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Book Review: Charade by Nyrae Dawn (Book one of the Games series)

Title: Charade
Author: Nyrae Dawn
Series: Games
Genre: New adult contemporary
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 stars
**audio version**

Charade opens with freshman Cheyenne Marshall walking in on Gregory, her boyfriend of two years and the guy who she’s followed to college, in bed with another woman. The past year without her was just so hard, he explains, but this was going to be the last time. It wasn’t what it looked like. (!) Then he brings out the big guns: He’s a guy.

Yep. Best. Excuse. Ever.

Um, no.

For Cheyenne, though, this feels like more than the standard-issue boyfriend betrayal. Instead it brings long-buried issues back to the surface: the fact that her mother left her at her aunt’s house when she was nine and never came back, not to mention all the other times her mother went off without her before that. Why, she wonders, is she so easy to leave?

She comes up with a brilliant plan—get a fake boyfriend and make Gregory jealous. Show him—and everyone else—that she doesn’t need him at all. Perfect. Now she just needs to find the right guy….

Colt isn’t that guy. He doesn’t have time to deal with a spoiled Princess and her games. His mom is dying of cancer, and he’s got his hands full trying to pass the college classes she so wanted him to take and manage to get all their bills paid. He doesn’t have time for Chey, and he certainly doesn’t have time for games. Except his mom’s on some new meds, and the lease on her apartment will be up soon. And Chey’s offering to pay him….

I have to admit, it took me a while to warm up to both of the main characters. The first few chapters nearly had me convinced that in their heads was not a place I really wanted to be—way too much inner monologue, and I wasn’t all that crazy about what I was hearing there. Chey especially read like an over-the-top drama queen. Her freak-out over Gregory and the solution she came up with just seemed so over-the-top; she really did seem to be the princess Colt accused her of being. Colt’s major attitude too was a bit of a turn off. His mom got him definite sympathy points, but surely he could be a little…nicer?

They decide to move forward with the plan anyway, though—Chey is sure that she has to show the world that she’s fine without Gregory, and Colt absolutely needs the money. They begin to spend time together, and…well, you know where this is going to go, right?

But the novel takes its time. It goes slow. It develops. Chey and Colt gradually begin to see each other—and themselves—differently. They start to try to grow and change and suddenly, I started to really care about what happened to them. I was totally pulled into their story, and I started looking for excuses to keep listening. A longer walk for the dog, maybe a little dusting, hey—look at those tiles in the bathroom! Boy, do they need a good scrub! Funny what a good audiobook will inspire me to do.

But I digress.

I ended up really liking this one. Both Chey and Colt began to work through their issues—no magic fixes here, thank goodness—and are well on their way to being better versions of themselves. Not everything is perfect, but things are definitely better. They are better in the end.

Speaking of the end, I may or may not have shed a tear or two by that time. Consider yourself warned.

In a nutshell: Engrossing read with strong character development. After I finished, I was definitely glad that I’d picked up book two in the series from NetGalley. 4 stars.

***Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for Nyrae Dawn’s Searching for Beautiful, due out in March! Click here!***

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