Title ~ Pretend (Blackcreek #3)
Author ~ Riley Hart
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Published ~ 29th December 2014
Mason Alexander thought all he wanted in life was something to call his own—something without the family name attached. He got that when he bought his bar in Blackcreek...but then a hard truth opens his eyes that he’s been lied to his whole life, and he’s tangled amid the family that loves him, a truth that haunts him, and torn between the life he wants for himself and the obligation he feels for his family.
Gavin Davis knows a thing or two about living a double life. Being a gay man with strict Christian parents who believe he’s going to Hell, has never been easy. Instead of dealing, Gavin lost himself in his career. Teaching music gives him solace. So when he loses his job at a private school for helping out a gay kid, he feels like he lost more than a job. He lost his identity.
Blackcreek is a new start for both of them, two men, loyal to a fault, who both feel obligated to people in their lives. What Mason and Gavin don’t expect to find in each other is the place where they can be real. They know they want each other, it’s the rest of it they can’t figure out. Caught between loyalty, obligation, fear, tragedy and family, Mason and Gavin’s lives threaten to pull them away from each other if they don’t get real, and stop playing pretend, for good.
I've been loving Riley Harts Blackcreek series. The MC's have all been engaging guys, plus there's always just the right amount of conflict and angst to keep you engrossed in each couples path's to true love, packed with truck loads of sexual tension and chemistry; the two main components that are essential, in my eyes, to keep any m/m romance lover captivated.
The love story this time round is between Mason Alexander, the fairly new owner of the towns local bar, who we've already met as a secondary character, and Gavin Davis, a musician and ex teacher, who was talked about in Stay, the previous book, but has now come back to Colorado, after being away for more than a decade. Both are having to handle a different set of family problems that have shaped their outlook on life and love in general. For Mason it's dealing with the betrayal he feels after he learns something about his status in the family that his parents, who have always accepted his being gay and loved him, have kept secret until recently; a secret Isaac, his now (insistent) ex boyfriend and friend of the family from childhood also knew about, but decided to keep away from him, causing their breakup.
For Gavin however, it's coping with a family who in their own unbending way do love him but because of their deeply religious background, won't accept his sexuality and life choices, placing him in a position where, because of his father's oncoming Alzheimer's, he's now stuck between a rock and a hard place. Drawn to each other from the beginning, problems arise when the consciences, expectations and the obligation that arise from their respective family drama's, begin to encroach on their budding romance and they have to choose whether they let all the burdens resulting from it push them apart or they carry on telling themselves that they're coping with the life situations their families have created. Pretending to themselves is something they've kind of perfected, pretending to each other...not so much.
I like that in each novel we get to see more of the previous couples we've come to love, but never in a way that encroaches on the two new guy's romance as each one is a separate love story in its own right. More of an enhancement, they add a nice touch of support to each other's stories, as their interactions together helps to drive the series forward. I would say that to really get the most from this, it's a bonus to have read Collide and Stay because you do get to know how they all connect to each other, but I also think you could pick this up and read it as a standalone without too much trouble, because even though the links are there, it's not a series where the books end on cliff-hangers. For instance the connection in this, is between Braden, who found love with Wes in book #2, and Gavin, who have history together, but even though we get to see more of Noah and Cooper, and Braden and Wes, the main focus is definitely on Mason and Gavin's struggle to start, and keep, their relationship despite the backlash from both their family situations.
Overall, I enjoyed this a lot but it didn't thrill me quite as much as the first two in the series as it lacked a little bit of the magic I experienced when I first read those. I can't really put my finger on what exactly, because like always the sex is hot, the dynamics in the bedroom are interesting; as Mason is a very 'toppy' bottom, the guys are really likeable and the chemistry is there, but I just found it harder to connect as quickly this time with Mason and Gavin as a couple, the way I did with the other two partnerships. One of those times where, for whatever reason, I feel like it's more likely a case of the "just me" syndrome. I do love this series though and if Riley does carry it further—and I'm wondering now if Isaac, Masons ex could be next—I'd definitely add it to my Riley Hart collection as I am a fan of her writing style. I know it's nothing to do with this particular series but Broken Pieces was one of my stand out reads of 2014...I really adored that book!
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Series Reading Order
Book #1 ~ Collide
AMAZON GLOBAL LINK
Book #3 ~ Pretend
AMAZON GLOBAL LINK
Meet Riley Hart
Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She's a hopeless romantic. A lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together. If she's not writing, you'll probably find her reading. Riley lives in California with her awesome family, who she is thankful for everyday.
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