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The Dating Charade

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Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins. Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether. But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins. Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether. But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game. No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.


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Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins. Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether. But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins. Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether. But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game. No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.

30 review for The Dating Charade

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    A jolt of energy featuring one of the most unique romantic hooks I have ever read. Personality and zest shine through Ferguson's evident enjoyment at crafting hi-jinx and misadventures as two people slowly make way for love in the midst of major life upheaval. A marvellous treaty on unexpected grace and its life changing chaos, Cassie and Jett find beautiful vulnerability in redefining what it means to live happily-ever-after.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brooke — brooklynnnnereads

    2.5 stars Oh how I wish I liked this novel more. Especially because there wasn't anything specifically 'bad' about it. It just wasn't the story for me but I am willing to appreciate the important topics that were brought into the story. This novel included tough yet important issues such as addiction, neglect, foster parenting, and adoption. It really was a story that could open readers' eyes towards foster parenting and adoption and for that, I really wish I liked the overall story more. It 2.5 stars Oh how I wish I liked this novel more. Especially because there wasn't anything specifically 'bad' about it. It just wasn't the story for me but I am willing to appreciate the important topics that were brought into the story. This novel included tough yet important issues such as addiction, neglect, foster parenting, and adoption. It really was a story that could open readers' eyes towards foster parenting and adoption and for that, I really wish I liked the overall story more. It opens the door to discussions regarding the different forms of 'family' that are out there and is informative while telling an emotionally powerful story. Between the writing style, the pace, and the dwindling chemistry between the two main characters, it wasn't the novel for me but I know that there will be others out there that enjoy this story more. ***Thank you to the publisher for supplying me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen. (JenGalaxy4 Christian Book Reviews)

    . Totally cute! What a happy little surprise! The Dating Charade is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s a sweet and heartwarming story of love, sacrifice and patience. Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. I loved her method and her partners-in-crime – just hilarious! Jett Bentley, firefighter extraordinaire and all-around great guy, delivers some hilarious meme-able moments as he hopes to win Cassie over. Lucky for us, Cassie and Jett aren’t the only characters in this story! . Totally cute! What a happy little surprise! The Dating Charade is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s a sweet and heartwarming story of love, sacrifice and patience. Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. I loved her method and her partners-in-crime – just hilarious! Jett Bentley, firefighter extraordinaire and all-around great guy, delivers some hilarious meme-able moments as he hopes to win Cassie over. Lucky for us, Cassie and Jett aren’t the only characters in this story! Several other scene-stealers earn their moments in the spotlight, as well. The entire cast of this book is pretty awesome! The circumstances behind the children and how they came into Jett and Cassie’s care are sad and will certainly tug at your heartstrings. While the author does not gloss over these issues, she also doesn’t linger too long. This worked well for the overall vibe of the story and I appreciated the sensitivity. Towards the latter part of the book, a few surprising twists were thrown in and made this already engaging novel a complete page-turner! This was a really charming debut novel! I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely recommend reading it! I can’t wait to read more books from Melissa Ferguson! jengalaxy4.wordpress.com I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. A positive review was not required. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracy C

    This started out really good for me but then fizzled a bit. Cassie is fed up with online dating and I loved her escape plan. Jett’s excitement in connecting with Cassie again was adorable. But once the story lines regarding both sets of children were introduced, the romance took a back seat. Cassie and Jett barely had any interactions, which made the ending a bit far fetched for me. The writing was good, but I think the children really overpowered the romance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Inspirationalfictionreader

    Wow! I loved this story!!! I cannot believe that this is Melissa Ferguson’s debut! I am definitely going to be watching out for more of her work! I hope she’s a fast writer! This book was full of everything I love in a romance - humor, heart, wonderful main characters, great secondary characters, and, of course, a happily ever after with a few bumps along the way! Jett and Cassie are both such wonderful and giving characters. There are some serious and sad parts to this story, which really Wow! I loved this story!!! I cannot believe that this is Melissa Ferguson’s debut! I am definitely going to be watching out for more of her work! I hope she’s a fast writer! This book was full of everything I love in a romance - humor, heart, wonderful main characters, great secondary characters, and, of course, a happily ever after with a few bumps along the way! Jett and Cassie are both such wonderful and giving characters. There are some serious and sad parts to this story, which really brought out just how giving they both are. And the humor? I laughed out loud so many times while reading this story! Cassie’s sure way out of a date is so funny. And Jett with the toddlers at church is hilarious! I think I laughed nonstop that entire scene! My only one tiny issue with this story is that I wished Jett and Cassie had more page time together. I’m really hoping we get Bree’s story next. But, if not, I’ll be reading whatever Melissa Ferguson writes next! Wonderful debut! I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jes Drew

    This book was a delightfully hilarious and also poignant read. A firefighter sees the opportunity to reconnect with his high school crush, now a woman who provides a safe haven for impoverished girls. Sparks fly- and then surprises drop from the sky. Our hero finds himself responsible for twin terrors and a nearly newborn infant, and our heroine finds her hands full with a teenager and two school age children. He calls upon the help of his roommate and neighbor, and she upon her best friend and This book was a delightfully hilarious and also poignant read. A firefighter sees the opportunity to reconnect with his high school crush, now a woman who provides a safe haven for impoverished girls. Sparks fly- and then surprises drop from the sky. Our hero finds himself responsible for twin terrors and a nearly newborn infant, and our heroine finds her hands full with a teenager and two school age children. He calls upon the help of his roommate and neighbor, and she upon her best friend and mom- but neither dare tell the other about their unexpected, possibly permanent family additions for fear of scaring away their potential soul mate whose profile says they don't want kids. Between frantic attempts to learn how to parent and simultaneously woo each other, while keeping the former a secret, this book had me in stiches. Until it had me freaking out. A wonderful, unique read. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, and the opinions are my own. First posted on my blog: https://agencyofbooksandspies.blogspo...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Abbi

    I have been desperately searching for a new contemporary romance author to love and I have just found her! You guys. This book was amazing! Everything I wanted it to be and so so so much more!! From the very beginning I was completely hooked and I read the whole thing in one sitting! Everything was expertly crafted, from the characters, to the plot, to the romance, to the humor! Cannot believe that this is a debut-it was that well done! I loved Jett and Cassie, both of them work in jobs that I have been desperately searching for a new contemporary romance author to love and I have just found her! You guys. This book was amazing! Everything I wanted it to be and so so so much more!! From the very beginning I was completely hooked and I read the whole thing in one sitting! Everything was expertly crafted, from the characters, to the plot, to the romance, to the humor! Cannot believe that this is a debut-it was that well done! I loved Jett and Cassie, both of them work in jobs that require sacrifice and they both care passionately about the people they take care of. They both immediately step up and in when it is needed almost without thought to how it will disrupt their lives. They were so perfectly matched for each other and I loved their easy connection and the banter between them! One of my favorite parts about this book was how much it made me laugh out loud! The humor was brilliantly woven in so naturally and just perfectly timed! There was the antics of the kids, the teasing of the friends, the scheming of little old ladies, and a bunch of other hilarious moments. The secondary cast of characters were all so entertaining and I loved each of them for their own reasons! Basically every single part of this book was awesomely fantastic and Melissa Ferguson has launched herself on to my favorite authors list! Cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us! I received a ebook copy of this book from NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emilee

    I like the plot and the characters. The writing is good. I didn't feel like there was enough development of the romantic relationship for my taste. I like that Cassie's and Jett's POV went back and forth between chapters. There is a too much focus on the children for this one to be considered a "romcom" in my opinion. Love the cute cover!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Monzon

    Cute! This book totally reminded me of the movie Instant Family. The best parts were with Jett and the kids. As a mom who hasn’t been out of the toddler years for too long, I could soooo relate...and it makes me wonder just how much personal experience Melissa Ferguson pulled from her own kids. . Cute! This book totally reminded me of the movie Instant Family. The best parts were with Jett and the kids. As a mom who hasn’t been out of the toddler years for too long, I could soooo relate...and it makes me wonder just how much personal experience Melissa Ferguson pulled from her own kids. 😅.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Denton

    Ferguson’s voice is fresh, flirty, and fun! The book deals with some weighty situations—child abandonment, adoption, social work—but it’s also laugh out loud funny. I think fans of romcom are really going to like this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beth Erin

    Full review and author q&a on FaithfullyBookish.com All the hearts on the cover of The Dating Charade are entirely fitting because this story has heart in a big way! I laughed, I cried, I hugged my kids, I told one of my kids to read this book! There is entirely too much I love about this story to put it all into words! The author has nestled Cassie and Jett’s story in a diverse and dynamic community of friends, family, and coworkers like a big ‘ol hug that’s always there when you need it. Full review and author q&a on FaithfullyBookish.com All the hearts on the cover of The Dating Charade are entirely fitting because this story has heart in a big way! I laughed, I cried, I hugged my kids, I told one of my kids to read this book! There is entirely too much I love about this story to put it all into words! The author has nestled Cassie and Jett’s story in a diverse and dynamic community of friends, family, and coworkers like a big ‘ol hug that’s always there when you need it. The romantic element is innocent and sweet with more almost-kisses than I could keep track of amidst two simultaneous (and semi-secretive) parenting crash courses… and I can’t find a single thing to complain about besides the fact that the story had to end. Melissa Fergeson’s debut is a “nothing but net” three-point shot for the win! I highly recommend this story! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fiction Aficionado

    I was anticipating this novel with equal parts eagerness and trepidation. Eagerness, because I’m always on the lookout for a great romcom; trepidation, because there were aspects of this story that had very real potential to annoy me rather than entertain. My verdict? I’m so glad I took the risk. Not only was it an entertaining and engaging read, but there is a serious, heart-tugging story at its core. There were two things in particular that caused my trepidation. The first was that I wondered I was anticipating this novel with equal parts eagerness and trepidation. Eagerness, because I’m always on the lookout for a great romcom; trepidation, because there were aspects of this story that had very real potential to annoy me rather than entertain. My verdict? I’m so glad I took the risk. Not only was it an entertaining and engaging read, but there is a serious, heart-tugging story at its core. There were two things in particular that caused my trepidation. The first was that I wondered how believable it would be for Cassie and Jett to find themselves suddenly responsible for three children each. Second was the fact that they would hide it from each other—even more so if that became the basis for the humour. You know, near misses, ridiculous explanations to cover up the truth. That kind of thing. Definitely NOT the kind of humour I’m looking for. As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. Not only was it entirely believable (though still quite a coincidence) that Cassie and Jett suddenly found themselves the sole guardian of three children each, but the children’s situation was never made light of, despite the humorous tone to the rest of the story. In fact, the story gave me a deeper appreciation of the complicated emotions children in foster care (and the adults who become their carers) deal with. And as for the whole hiding it from each other thing—I completely understood why they didn’t mention their respective situations to start with, and I loved that it played out from there in such an unpredictable way, including the way it changed both Cassie and Jett. I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t say any more than that. The romance did take a back-seat at times, but I think the author stayed true to the story rather than writing to preconceived genre expectations. My one slight criticism was that I felt the resolution was a little out of left field—almost as though there was a scene or two missing. But in all other ways, this was an excellent debut, and I’m looking forward to whatever’s next from Melissa Ferguson. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cara Putman

    A sweet story. The romance has hiccups, the supporting characters are fun, and my emotions were engaged.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Tero

    This was not at all what I judged it to be… which means I was pleasantly surprised. I love comedy, but I’m not the biggest romance fan, so yes, I realize when I sign up to read a rom-com, I might get more romance than I bargained for. But this was totally not the case. There was a lot of heart-wrenching depth to this story as foster care was a very big thread woven throughout the story. The Dating Charade is a hilarious yet deep read. I cannot even count the times I actually laughed out loud This was not at all what I judged it to be… which means I was pleasantly surprised. I love comedy, but I’m not the biggest romance fan, so yes, I realize when I sign up to read a rom-com, I might get more romance than I bargained for. But this was totally not the case. There was a lot of heart-wrenching depth to this story as foster care was a very big thread woven throughout the story. The Dating Charade is a hilarious yet deep read. I cannot even count the times I actually laughed out loud while reading it. It was just the read I needed. The romance was actually not the main focal point of the story, which I personally liked. It was there and it was something the characters were concerned about, but there really weren’t many uncomfortable scenes. Okay, there was one, but it wasn’t between the two MCs… yeah, it was really an unnecessary scene in my eyes, [spoiler] as it involved Jett interrupted while in the bathroom and the whole scene was basically him undressed and seen by another woman [end of spoiler]. Yeah, that scene could have totally, totally been left out, as it showed the chaos, but I think a much more G-rated situation could have occurred. Besides that, I don’t remember anything specifically, but then I will openly confess that I was more involved in the kids’ stories than in their romance. The spiritual content really wasn’t deep at all. I guess they did pray, but it was more of a flippant, “Okay, God, I need You” (which I don’t have anything at all wrong with—it’s just when that is basically all the spiritual content). Oh, and there was a church service, but it was more the before/after service than the actual service that was honed in on. Definitely a 4.5 star-book in my books. ;) I’ll probably find time to reread it. *I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review*

  15. 5 out of 5

    MJSH

    A fantastic debut novel from Melissa Ferguson! The author’s writing style is easy to read and the book will have you laughing out loud at the hilarious encounters and events that fill the plot. But don’t let the humor and the light-hearted title of “The Dating Charade” fool you. The author addresses deep emotional issues involved in broken families and also highlights the sacrifice needed in loving and rearing children, whether blood-related or not. If you enjoy hilarious and heart-warming A fantastic debut novel from Melissa Ferguson! The author’s writing style is easy to read and the book will have you laughing out loud at the hilarious encounters and events that fill the plot. But don’t let the humor and the light-hearted title of “The Dating Charade” fool you. The author addresses deep emotional issues involved in broken families and also highlights the sacrifice needed in loving and rearing children, whether blood-related or not. If you enjoy hilarious and heart-warming contemporary romance, you will love this book. Cassie, the director of center for disadvantaged girls, and Jett, a firefighter, are both relationship-shy for different reasons but end up hitting it off after a couple of hiccups. But their relationship is littered with trials thrown their way by children unwittingly landing in their homes, well-meaning friends and acquaintances meddling, and plenty of misunderstandings. After having been in their world, I’m hoping for a follow-up book or two about the other characters in this book, like Cassie’s best friend Bree and Jett’s roommate Sunny. I received a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson via Celebrate Lit Tours and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Daniel

    My first read of 2020! I really enjoyed it! Laughs AND tears too! This book is more than a Romance, in fact I feel the Romantic love isn’t even the focus so much (don’t worry. It’s a HEA type anyway) love making a group of people family is foremost in this book. You’ll laugh and cheer!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I read this one, turning each page and just hoping that the story would develop into the expectation I’d had going in. The story was odd, there certainly was no “rom-com” this has so many serious elements to the individual lives of the two MC - and so little actual interaction between the two of them. Most the time it felt like I was reading two different stories about two separate individuals facing the new ‘norms’ that came suddenly into their lives. So many plot issues too. At times I’m doing I read this one, turning each page and just hoping that the story would develop into the expectation I’d had going in. The story was odd, there certainly was no “rom-com” this has so many serious elements to the individual lives of the two MC - and so little actual interaction between the two of them. Most the time it felt like I was reading two different stories about two separate individuals facing the new ‘norms’ that came suddenly into their lives. So many plot issues too. At times I’m doing a double take thinking.. “wait, what?” confused over something that just didn’t add up to an earlier statement. Pretty sure they had only three dates, but there’s something about it being their tenth? When did that happen? Ok so, amongst all the dramas they were facing with the children - anything really between the two of them was totally lost. Sadly. I kept waiting for a deeper connection. Chemistry, quite simply more interaction. It just wasn’t there. I finished it, but at times I just felt frustrated. The book needed a little more editing. If you’re not hoping for a romance you’ll probably really enjoy this. Though with a title like that I think you’ll be expecting it. Hilarious? Hardly. Serious and challenging issues each of them are facing, yes. Thanks to Netgalley for the eARC. This is my honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aimee (Getting Your Read On)

    There were so many bits I enjoyed in this book. The main characters are genuinely good people so it was easy to like them and root for them. The brief moments they were actually together and interacting were great but those were few and far between. It was mostly about Cassie and Jett in their separate lives, dealing with unexpected events and struggles. The story sometimes got a little long winded with the secondary characters and I will admit to some skimming. I guess I thought this was more There were so many bits I enjoyed in this book. The main characters are genuinely good people so it was easy to like them and root for them. The brief moments they were actually together and interacting were great but those were few and far between. It was mostly about Cassie and Jett in their separate lives, dealing with unexpected events and struggles. The story sometimes got a little long winded with the secondary characters and I will admit to some skimming. 😳 I guess I thought this was more of a romance than it turned out to be but it was a love story. A love for children however they come to you and how that love makes a family. Family isn't always about who you were born to- sometimes it's more about who you choose to love. It was a feel good aspect of this book. I thought the ending was cute and again, I loved the overall message of this book. I just wish there were more moments of connection between the two main characters and less of the secondary characters. Content: abuse mentioned in several different forms, mention of drug abuse. Kissing. - I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fernanda Granzotto

    “I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own” Is not a bad book,but I didn’t connect with any of the characters and found the story very bland. I like the kids that are present in the story and how the author deal with them but is was not enough to make me like the book. It took ages to read the book and I admit that I skim read the last 100 pages so I do not reccomend this book after all.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Lowery

    If you like contemporary romance AND like to giggle as you read? THIS is the book for you! I feel like I need a Cassie in my life! Haha. She totally cracks me up! The first line of this book had me hooked! “If one was going to dip one’s toes into the murky, pestilential waters of online dating, an escape plan was critical.” I also feel like Cassie should write a book about online dating. “Two minutes. After a year of online dating, she’d developed the ability to spot a rat in under two minutes. If you like contemporary romance AND like to giggle as you read? THIS is the book for you! I feel like I need a Cassie in my life! Haha. She totally cracks me up! The first line of this book had me hooked! “If one was going to dip one’s toes into the murky, pestilential waters of online dating, an escape plan was critical.” I also feel like Cassie should write a book about online dating. “Two minutes. After a year of online dating, she’d developed the ability to spot a rat in under two minutes. That deserves some sort of recognition.” And then Jett’s humor joins the party. He says he has a “Fear of chickens. Terrible, horrible fear of chickens. Can’t even see eggs. IHOP is my nemesis.” And, “does lying impress you? Because I can lie. I can be the best pathological liar you’ve ever met. “

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kini

    I am almost always sucked in by a cute cover and a moderately interesting blurb. This book has both. At least to me. Y’all know by now that I am almost always going to click on a book that mentions online dating. And this blurb mentions single parenting. I felt like I had to read it. Then I noticed it was published by Harlequin’s Christian Printing imprint. I debated not reading it, but I decided to give it a go. I watch plenty of Hallmark movies that kind of dance around faith/religion. I I am almost always sucked in by a cute cover and a moderately interesting blurb. This book has both. At least to me. Y’all know by now that I am almost always going to click on a book that mentions online dating. And this blurb mentions single parenting. I felt like I had to read it. Then I noticed it was published by Harlequin’s Christian Printing imprint. I debated not reading it, but I decided to give it a go. I watch plenty of Hallmark movies that kind of dance around faith/religion. I figured this couldn’t be much different. And it wasn’t. Cutesy story of a woman in her early 30’s trying to find love. She is giving online dating a try. But then she decides it is trash and opts to just live her life. (I feel like there is a lesson in there for me.) Naturally before she completely deletes her profile she connects with a handsome man who just happens to be someone she went to high school and wouldn’t you know it he works across the street. CW & Spoilers Back to the book. The love match was cutesy and had moments of sweetness but that was only about half the focus of the book. There is some mention of faith- Jett takes his family to church. There were a few mentions of prayer. It didn’t feel too heavy handed but also I had bigger issues to work through. Cassie works at an all girls organization that read to me like Boys & Girls Club, except all girls. Star is one of the girls that attends the after school program. Star and her sisters are removed from the home due to child neglect and abandonment. Cassie decides to take Star and her sisters home with her and provide care for them. She truly cares for them and wants to see them stay together as a unit and doesn’t want them to go to foster care. There was one early mention of Star’s hair that felt like code for Star being black. Once Cassie takes in the girls, the author states the girls are black. Cassie is white. The whole situation made me uncomfortable. So much so that I researched the number of children in foster care. Per Statista, in 2018 there were over 190,000 white kids in foster care and 99,000 black or African American kids in foster care. Childwelfare.gov shows similar stats with 44% White, 25% Black or African American children in foster care. Weirdly enough, the hero, Jett also ends up parenting children that are not his. His sister, who is battling some sort of addiction, show up on his doorstep with her three children. She is there for a day and then leaves the kids in his care. There were a few times that Jett described his sisters addiction battle that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. He was pretty judgey. Once Cassie and Jett are caregivers to their respective charges, they don’t tell each other about their situations and hilarity does not ensue. They don’t talk about it until close to the end and then there is a big misunderstanding that was ridiculous but also I was not invested in the story and just wanted to know how it ended. Spoiler Ending Star’s long lost uncle agrees to take Star, Diedre and Kennedy. This is after Cassie finds out that their mother has surrendered her parental rights. Cassie is devastated. The girls leave her care. But in the epilogue they are back together. We don’t know why. Jett’s sister takes her kids from Jett’s house without telling him and is driving impaired and causes a major accident that kills someone and causes injury to the children and because Jett is a fire fighter/EMT he is there to save them. They all end up together with a happily ever after. I am not here to say that the author didn’t research this (foster care and/or transracial adoption) and attempt and want to handle the situation with care. I am here to say that there were no other characters of color that I could easily identify. To have the only characters of color be a neglectful mother whose children end up in foster care seems to be a potentially very hurtful narrative. I know that children of all races end up in foster care for a variety of reasons. But it had me feeling uneasy that the only time I was easily able to identify people of color was because they committed a crime or they were children in foster care. Jett’s niece and nephews are white and perhaps that is a balance and I am overthinking it. However, I felt how I felt and that is okay. Long story short I didn’t love this book. I felt the romance was completely overshadowed by each of the main characters journey with becoming a caretaker. It felt like they didn’t really get to know enough about each other in order to sustain a long term relationship. When I factor in how I felt about the children, I didn’t enjoy this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I really enjoyed THE DATING CHARADE! Are you sure that this is Melissa Ferguson’s debut? I am going to be putting her on my auto buy list after reading this wonderful story! THE DATING CHARADE will have you giggling out loud, at the same time holding your breath. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Melissa Ferguson’s writing held me captive from the very first page until the last page. I can’t wait to read more of her stories. The characters are so real and believable, they feel as if they I really enjoyed THE DATING CHARADE! Are you sure that this is Melissa Ferguson’s debut? I am going to be putting her on my auto buy list after reading this wonderful story! THE DATING CHARADE will have you giggling out loud, at the same time holding your breath. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Melissa Ferguson’s writing held me captive from the very first page until the last page. I can’t wait to read more of her stories. The characters are so real and believable, they feel as if they are people you know and really care about. Jett and Cassie are both such wonderful and selfless characters. I was emotionally invested in Jett and Cassie, both of them work in jobs in THE DATING CHARADE that require sacrifice and they both care passionately about the people they take care of. Melissa Ferguson has written a contemporary story that takes place in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and is filled with strong, caring characters that everyone will be able to relate to and care about. Soon, you will feel as if you are right there with all these fun characters, struggling to figure out where their lives are going. Melissa has a way of grabbing her readers and never letting them go! Such a fun and captivating story! There are some serious and sad parts to THE DATING CHARADE as well which really brought out just how giving they both are. And there is so much humor. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this refreshing story! Cassie has a great way of getting out of a bad date and it is so funny. When Jeff is at the church with the toddlers is hysterical. Make yourself a yummy hot drink, get your favorite blanket and get on the couch. THE DATING CHARADE is an awesome way to spend the afternoon or evening. Once you start, you won’t be able to put it down and will find yourself cheering for these amazing characters as they try to navigate their way through a very different and unique situation. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caitlyn Santi

    Oh my word, what an absolutely delightful novel! From the first chapter I knew I would love this book, and love it I did! Cassie and Jett were both such great characters and I loved their story! It has been quite a while since I read a great rom-com, and this one is fabulous, I lost count of the number of times this book had me laughing out loud, and while this book does tackle some tough topics I never felt like it was a depressing read, quite the contrary in fact, it is heart-stirring and Oh my word, what an absolutely delightful novel! From the first chapter I knew I would love this book, and love it I did! Cassie and Jett were both such great characters and I loved their story! It has been quite a while since I read a great rom-com, and this one is fabulous, I lost count of the number of times this book had me laughing out loud, and while this book does tackle some tough topics I never felt like it was a depressing read, quite the contrary in fact, it is heart-stirring and immensely entertaining in equal measures! All the children were wonderful characters, and so well drawn. I can't forget to mention that I was particularly charmed by the fact that Jett is a firefighter! I loved this book from beginning to end, and hated to stop reading! I'm already itching to re-read The Dating Charade, it's that good! Melissa Ferguson has a forever fan in me! If you're looking for a book that will crack you up, have you happy-sighing at the romance, and also tug at your heartstrings, The Dating Charade is the perfect choice! This book is just the thing to turn your frown upside down! I most highly recommend The Dating Charade, and I cannot wait for Melissa Ferguson's next book! (5 Stars!) I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Which did not influence my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions are one hundred percent my own!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Faye

    Two unsuspecting singles looking for love hit it off after the first date, and find themselves taking care of three children each, all the while keeping it a secret from the other. A modern romance that relevantly looks at modern dating habits, mixed with a feel-good romantic comedy vibe, heartwarming, with laugh out loud moments sure to bring a smile to your face. This book has a fun cast of side characters, with fun relatable humor. Great for fans of Christian-ese comedians and Hallmark movies, Two unsuspecting singles looking for love hit it off after the first date, and find themselves taking care of three children each, all the while keeping it a secret from the other. A modern romance that relevantly looks at modern dating habits, mixed with a feel-good romantic comedy vibe, heartwarming, with laugh out loud moments sure to bring a smile to your face. This book has a fun cast of side characters, with fun relatable humor. Great for fans of Christian-ese comedians and Hallmark movies, there's plenty to make you laugh and smile throughout. There are many hilarious situations, and I loved how the children keep Cassie and Jett on their toes. A heartwarming debut, with lighthearted humor, with a heartfelt core. Highly enjoyable read. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    The Weekly Romance

    I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I was immediately enthralled in this love story as soon as Cassie was talking about how she wished she could find someone like the firefighter outside her window and then the perspective changed to Jett, the firefighter outside the window. The character development was good, the reader got a very strong view of the characters opinions and attributes which made me, as a reader, feel as though I I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I was immediately enthralled in this love story as soon as Cassie was talking about how she wished she could find someone like the firefighter outside her window and then the perspective changed to Jett, the firefighter outside the window. The character development was good, the reader got a very strong view of the characters opinions and attributes which made me, as a reader, feel as though I knew the characters like they were my best friends and each decision was their own to make. The plot was great very entertaining, and that is what drew to read this book in the first place, the idea was very interesting and a reader feels captivated by the story. Writing style was great not too much description but not too little as you didn’t remember what the characters looked like. The only thing i didn't like as much was that I wish the epilogue was longer and the lead up to them finding out their kids was a little shorter. Overall, good instalove, slow-burn, with kids book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    THE DATING CHARADE -- I am going to admit to cheating. I read a two star review before reading the book and thought "No sexual tension? No romance? No fun!" But that said, that review was mostly wrong. There is no sexual tension, but there is romance of the lets be friends and have fun together type, and oh, there IS fun. Laugh out loud, subject your holiday guests to readings fun. I *loved* this book. Okay, there are some soft swear words. There is lying - a lot of it. There are some gross THE DATING CHARADE -- I am going to admit to cheating. I read a two star review before reading the book and thought "No sexual tension? No romance? No fun!" But that said, that review was mostly wrong. There is no sexual tension, but there is romance of the lets be friends and have fun together type, and oh, there IS fun. Laugh out loud, subject your holiday guests to readings fun. I *loved* this book. Okay, there are some soft swear words. There is lying - a lot of it. There are some gross things. And part of the ending felt so contrived. But that aside, this book is FUN. Murphy's Law fun. Take two singles who neither want kids, add three kids each, two elderly matchmakers, and a whole lot of inner-city teen girls and you have trouble to the tenth power fun. If you like family drama, low-key friends-romance, and lots of laughs you will love THE DATING CHARADE. Grab your copy today. I will be looking for more by this author. I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gracie

    Okay, I officially have a new author obsession!! Y’all. This. Book!! (Insert all the squeally, happy dances!!!) The Dating Charade was hysterical, heart-felt, totally romantic, and absolutely swoon-worthy. The characters were dynamic and their stories believable, relatable, and rich. I adored every one and badly wish for a sequel to spend more time in this cozy and beautiful story! The circumstances were a mix of wild comedies of errors and heart-rending tragedies molding together to form something Okay, I officially have a new author obsession!! Y’all. This. Book!! (Insert all the squeally, happy dances!!!) The Dating Charade was hysterical, heart-felt, totally romantic, and absolutely swoon-worthy. The characters were dynamic and their stories believable, relatable, and rich. I adored every one and badly wish for a sequel to spend more time in this cozy and beautiful story! The circumstances were a mix of wild comedies of errors and heart-rending tragedies molding together to form something wonderful and bittersweet. Melissa Ferguson did an amazing job crafting such a heart-warming journey of romance, second chances, and secret children!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steph's Romance Book Talk

    3 Stars / 0 Steam Fans As much as I wanted to enjoy this story based on what I thought was going to be the storyline, 'terrible dating experiences from using a dating app' but what I got was a story about family. Cassie is a woman that works with underprivileged youth girls, she has taken to one of the teens named Star. When Cassie is checking on Star one night she finds that Star and her sisters have been abandoned by their mother and living in filth. Cassie takes in the girls despite the fact 3 Stars / 0 Steam Fans As much as I wanted to enjoy this story based on what I thought was going to be the storyline, 'terrible dating experiences from using a dating app' but what I got was a story about family. Cassie is a woman that works with underprivileged youth girls, she has taken to one of the teens named Star. When Cassie is checking on Star one night she finds that Star and her sisters have been abandoned by their mother and living in filth. Cassie takes in the girls despite the fact that on her dating app profile she has said she does not want kids. Jett is the firefighter that works at the station across the street from Cassie's youth center but what is even more interesting is that Jett signed up on a whim to the same dating app as Cassie, found her profile, and has been harboring a crush on her since they were in high school together...Cassie and Jett end up going out a few times but both have very big secrets that they are keeping in the form of three kids apiece. There are moments where this storyline has "white savior" issues, adoption discussions, abandonment discussions, religious discussions, and foster care discussions that were interestingly handled; however, not so overwhelming that the story came off preaching a single-minded directive. I also never really felt the chemistry between Cassie and Jett and there are a few other characters that are mentioned that give off a weird vibe to the storyline. Overall, this was just a meh read for me. Video review available in Week 49 Dec 1 – 7 weekly book reviews. For other video book reviews check out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Romance Book Talk

  29. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Bodine

    (4/5 Stars) If you aren't rooting for Cassie by the first chapter, it’s probably because you’ve been too distracted by laughing at the opening sequence. From chapter one’s surefire escape-a-date plan until the dialogue of the final page, Melissa Ferguson writes a heartwarming story that will have you laughing, your heart breaking, and your spirits soaring. Cassie is a heroine who has reached a fork in the road and, as can sometimes happen, the Lord seems to throw up a roadblock as soon as Cassie (4/5 Stars) If you aren't rooting for Cassie by the first chapter, it’s probably because you’ve been too distracted by laughing at the opening sequence. From chapter one’s surefire escape-a-date plan until the dialogue of the final page, Melissa Ferguson writes a heartwarming story that will have you laughing, your heart breaking, and your spirits soaring. Cassie is a heroine who has reached a fork in the road and, as can sometimes happen, the Lord seems to throw up a roadblock as soon as Cassie decides which path to take. Jett is a complicated mix of a hero. To be honest, I didn’t immediately love him. He was a gentleman, sweet, and funny, but I think the reason I didn’t fall for him is the very thing that makes Ferguson’s debut so rich: it’s real. Jett isn’t prepared for the kids who get dropped off at his doorstep. He doesn’t immediately adjust to this new situation or seamlessly transform into this unbelievably understanding guy. I think his reactions, considering his history, are believable. So, while I didn't think him the most lovable protagonist, I really admired who he had become as a character by the end. I’ve never been a parent, but, for the span of this book I felt like I was getting an inside peek into that life. Melissa Ferguson has created a cast of diverse and intricate characters who are thrown into this overnight switch to parenthood and they are forced to adapt to its many rollercoaster twists and turns. Ferguson does it in a way that has you wishing you could be there to feel the love of family while simultaneously stepping back, hands raised, to graciously allow someone fictional to take care of the dirty diapers. This isn’t your typical romcom. It is more than a love story. Well, actually, that’s only half true. This is a love story, but it’s more than a falling-in-love story. The Dating Charade is an original take on the idea that one person matters, that one bond God weaves between two people can help pull them from dark places. It’s hope, it’s grief, it’s love. This is family—in all the many forms that family can surprise you, test you, and envelop you. The story is one that can remind us of how God shapes individuals through experiences that don’t always align perfectly with another’s. Yet those experiences can transform two people into a meeting point where they’re finally ready to “stop the charade,” if you will, and find out who the other really is; as well as appreciate the life with which God has blessed them. I will be on the lookout for future books by Melissa Ferguson and I hope you will, too. She brings a new, funny voice to Christian Fiction and I’m excited to see what other stories are ahead. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Randi Sampson

    Whoever came up with the old cliche, 'never judge a book by it's cover' was CLEARLY talking about The Dating Charade. Looking at the fun cover image and even reading the back cover copy, I expected nothing more from this book than a light-hearted romantic comedy. While it certainly had that too, it was so much more than I expected...and I absolutely loved it. The story drew me in laughing from the start as we meet Cassie and her fail proof date escape plan. I couldn't help but suppress the Whoever came up with the old cliche, 'never judge a book by it's cover' was CLEARLY talking about The Dating Charade. Looking at the fun cover image and even reading the back cover copy, I expected nothing more from this book than a light-hearted romantic comedy. While it certainly had that too, it was so much more than I expected...and I absolutely loved it. The story drew me in laughing from the start as we meet Cassie and her fail proof date escape plan. I couldn't help but suppress the laughs. THIS was just what I had anticipated this story would be. Fun. But while the humor carries on throughout the story to the final pages, it also goes onto tackle some pretty weighty topics in the midst of that. Topics like the foster care system and addiction. Not topics you'd think to talk about in a romantic comedy, is it? Still, the author blended the humor so beautifully with these deeper issues to create a heartwarming story that I could not get enough of. You'll be laughing at those humorous scenarios... but you'll want to have a box of tissues ready too. While this is a Christian romance, I could see it appealing to a wider audience as well. There are certainly elements of faith found throughout the story, but there is not a preachy tone in the slightest. The characters attend church, they talk about praying, etc so it really just falls very naturally into the characters lives, reading more like a clean women's fiction or contemporary romance with characters who happen to be Christians/believers. This book was so well done that I was quite shocked to discover that it was Melissa Ferguson's debut novel.What a debut! I look forward to reading more from her in the future! *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own.

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