Mr Pretend was a terrific read. Dawson, head of the family business is a kind decent man, but closed off emotionally after a painful break up years ago. His vast family has reunions every four years and this get together he wants to bring a man as his date for 2 very important reasons: 1) to remind those that already know, that he is gay, this time around he's staying outside of the closet, and 2) to stop his meddling mother, whose in denial about Dawson's sexuality, from parading young women in front of him.
Taylor is temping at Juiced, Dawson's company. 2 years after college and he honestly thought he'd be working somewhere permanent. He knows next to nothing about his boss, except he's handsome and young to be CEO of a vast company. When Dawson asks him to be his pretend date, all expenses paid including a very large bonus, Taylor whose one pay check from eviction sees an opportunity to earn some decent money, pad his desperate bank account and spend time with his temporary boss.
Mr. Pretend was a great change of pace where the 2 men weren't at logger heads with each other. Both men were gay and out, though Dawson was emotionally fragile still reeling from the destruction of his one long-term relationship with the love of his life, he remained a little reticent about laying himself bare publically, though this was mostly due to the era in which he came out as gay, and his past relationship, more than any real desire by him to hide who he was. Add in his parents particularly his mother who was in full denial mode about Dawson being gay, and it was easy to see why Dawson was very private about who he was. Taylor was a breath of fresh air with his positive attitude, no stranger to hurt, he's come out of a long-term relationship where his boyfriend cheated on him, you'd think that would make him cynical, but he remains upbeat about romance and love.
It was also terrific to see the different mindsets between Taylor and Dawson about their shared sexuality especially in how they saw themselves as out gay men. Taylor being younger had no real discernible issues about coming out from his home front, accepting parents, and a large group of like-minded accepting friends at school, at twenty four he was a very modern gay man, and open about who he was.
At 32 Dawson was a lot more protective of himself about being so exposed and the different mind sets were interesting to read. His one long-term relationship was fully closeted and even years later he is still at odds with being out at his own workplace. I especially loved the way the men came together, and how Dawson finally allowed himself to take that step and start to find happiness again. Some sexy times, and fairly tame considering what is out there on the market, though it perfectly suited the plot. Definitely no gratuitous sex scenes here. Great secondary characters, especially Caleb, Dawson's BFF, hopefully he will get a book as well because if anyone deserves a romance it's him. As you'd expect from Ms Zane, this sweet ride finishes with a nice HEA.
I really enjoyed this novel and if you love a well written m/m quasi friends to lovers style of romance your going to enjoy this read. Trigger warnings: There is a steady references of drug use (not Dawson, Taylor or Caleb).
I haven’t encountered either of these authors before but I’m definitely planning on reading more from them. This is a well crafted story. The characters are warm and very sweet together. Dialogue flowed naturally and was often witty. As far as I’m concerned the only negative about this book is that it’s over.