Review: ‘Pretend…’ by Stacey Nash

Pretend_Stacey_Nash

Life’s easy when everything’s fake.

Savannah West had it all: popularity, good grades and a family who loved her, but how quickly things can change. Living half a state away doesn’t stop the painful memories of her past ripping her heart in two. And sometimes lies are easier than coping with the truth.

The thing she didn’t bank on was Dane Beaumont. A blast from her horrendous past, he’s the last person she expected to run into at college … and it’s not just because he knows the truth. Hot as sin, he’s more off limits than generic brand clothing, but staying away isn’t easy when he insists on looking out for her. Dealing with the reality of finding her place in the world, Savvy must face the guy who tears down all her carefully placed walls and pull herself together. It’s time to grow up.

Pretend… is the sequel to Shh! and Wait! — which I have also reviewed — and is part of the Oxley College series. (Oxley is the name of a student housing dormitory at Armidale University, if you’re wondering.) Pretend… is actually set concurrently with Shh!, which was a lot of fun — I enjoyed those little outside glimpses into Olivia and Logan’s story.

I confess I wasn’t in love with Savannah’s story to the same extent as either Olivia’s or Hex’s; my main reservation is neatly captured by the blurb. Although Savvy has issues and traumas in her past, most of her current problems are caused by her own reluctance to be honest with people. I’m not saying I didn’t understand why — it’s definitely easier to pretend to be the carefree socialite than to risk rocking the boat — but still. The end result was that, at times (particularly at around 60%), I wanted to knock her gorgeous blond head into a wall.

I also didn’t like Dane as much as Logan, who was the love interest in the first book. The reasons for this are mostly personal taste: I don’t generally enjoy cocky alpha male types. And Dane seems quite shallow and vain at first. However (and this is a big however), given the dual POV, we get to see inside his head, which gives us a chance to see that there is more going on than a surfboard and immaculate pecs. I admit he, erm, grew on me. :p

And the pairing of Savvy and Dane really worked. I liked that he saw past her smokescreen and was, from the start, the one she could rely on, who knew the truth and who called her out on her BS. I liked the way they grew throughout the book.

The other thing I really loved about Pretend… was how much of it was set at the beach. It made me really hanker for a holiday!

Like all the Oxley College books, Pretend… is sweet new adult romance, meaning that although there is heated kissing (boy howdy!), the sex all happens off camera, so to speak. There is more swearing in this book than in the previous two, which I actually found a relief as it read more naturally.

If you enjoy clean-ish college/university romances with raw and honest alpha male leads and fashion-conscious female leads with tragic pasts, then Pretend… is the book for you. Although the story would stand alone, if it were me I’d start with Shh! and then read this one, then Wait!.

Four stars

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