Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blog Tour Review + TWO Giveaways: Pretending - Shanna Clayton

Shanna Clayton
Series: N/A
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: B+
On Goodreads

About the book:

Four years.

That’s how long Wesley Kent has to live with the girl his dad shacked him up with, and then he can collect his inheritance and escape small town life. He gets through the prison sentence by pretending Dahlia Reynolds doesn’t exist. With three years down and one more to go, he doesn’t expect much to change. That is, until the girl that’s not supposed to exist sharpens into his reality, making it impossible to ignore her.

Three years.

That’s how long Dahlia Reynolds has been living with a total stranger. She’s convinced herself Wesley Kent is no more than illusion in the hallways. It’s easy to do, especially since that same illusion has never spoken more than two words to her. But one mistaken identity later, and she finds herself caught up in the mysterious world Wesley lives in. One by one, he begins knocking down the safe, comfortable walls she built, leaving her wondering what his motives are. Does he want to expose her—or free her?

Recommended for 17+ due to mature language and adult situations.


I received this copy of Pretending for an honest review.

Well the blurb certainly doesn't prepare you for the book itself, not really. Neither does the genre, nor the first few pages. Where to begin?

I loved loved loved the opening lines:
"Anyone who thinks living in a mansion is a dream come true has obviously never been alone at night. . . . First thing tomorrow I swear I'm buying a dog. A big ferocious one. With fangs." (Clayton, 1)
It isn't because it's a particularly spectacular opening in itself, though I do love the immediate break from the conventions of glamorous fairy tale life, it's because Doll's voice is so clear. And it doesn't stop being clear. This is my favorite part of the book, how Doll and Wes are expressed vividly and more or less realistically.

Furthermore, the narration for the characters isn't stale and overly general, much of it is quite specific to each character. It's often a problem for writers to define the ways characters narrate in a book with multiple viewpoints, but Clayton pulls it off magnificently. Here's an excerpt from Wes's viewpoint to compare:
"I am lying. Sort of. I hadn't been thinking of the library girl when Christine asked, but I've been thinking of her every second since she left my room."
Wesley is seriously self-aware, in a way that Doll doesn't even try to be. While Doll is too busy to stare at her inner working, Wesley has an iron hand on them. He analyses himself more than anyone outside his head, and often is quite mechanical in doing so. There are also very few passages where he isn't thinking of sex, and many of his little musings are about who has broken up with who, who is lonely (hint, Christine is lonely), and all the wonderful tidbits of everyone's romantic and sexual lives. What fun!

Apart from having distinct voices and mannerisms in the narration, both characters are genuinely interesting. I didn't think I'd start to care for them, and it's quite subtle too, so you might not even notice. I expected to just sit through a terrible chick flic and watch it run without really caring about who got involved with who.

And then one scene suddenly shifts from hate to love and ugh the feelings! It's so subtle!
"Why hasn't he gone back to ignoring me?" turns into "You smell really good." and her realizing they have the same address and ugh! (72)
This touches upon what I wrote above, that the blurb does not prepare you for the book. I meant it. Clayton sets up cliche situations and then derails the whole lot for a new story.

You've got a girl who is pretending the boy she's stuck with doesn't exist, or at the very least can't see her, a boy who is a notable jerk. Then the boy, typically as if you could hear a Nicholas Sparks novel whispering to you, notices the girl's beauty. The girl is opposed to this dearly, but moreso because she thinks she might like him. And then there's an ex? And best friends who I hate but are hilarious? Oh yeah, totally going to hate this book. Well, I thought so. And then I read the first lines and got dazzled by Doll's distinct voice.

Which, after a while, started to fade into the background as I was trying to work out who the characters where and how they knew each other and why I cared.

But before I had time to be terribly confused, the solid writing kicked in and the adventure sort of just exploded on the pages. At first I wondered who the hell were the Black Templars? And then treasure? Swords and secret groups and the reason he hates his dad! And everyone's betraying everyone and cheating on everyone and wow the scene where Dhalia's a maid, and he finally sees her? DAMN. And so, so much more that makes the book absolutely worth a read. It takes a bit of time to get there but it's quite incredible when it does and I don't want to spoil anything.

The reason this isn't more than four stars, though, is that the writing at times, especially in the first few chapters, can seem confusing. At times, I didn't fully understand Dhalia's narration and sometimes I got angry that Wes was too caught up in his sex life to get on with the plot. And later on, I had a hard time coming to terms with how far my imagination was being stretched. There needed to be a bit less subtlety and more foreshadowing in the beginning, to prepare me for the total plot shift that happens. Though these are big hits, they seem a lot more minor once you've reached the 3/4ths mark and settled into everything, even the shift, and so I still think this book is well worth the read.

And then there was a nice and tidy conclusion that left me feeling happy but not terribly affected.

- Marlon

Purchase links:

About the author:

I’m not sure if my mother predestined me to become a romance author when she named me after her favorite Kathleen Woodiwiss book, but that’s what happened. Now I live and breathe all things books. When I’m not glued to my desk writing, I can be found eating too much chocolate, obsessing over Game of Thrones, and cyber stalking my favorite authors. Keep up with me on Facebook and Instagram. I love hearing from readers!

Author links:

Tour-wide giveaway: $25 Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We Live and Breathe Books giveaway: One ebook copy of Pretending in the winner's choice of Mobi, ePub, or PDF.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour hosted by:

No comments:

Post a Comment