By Ta`Mara Hanscom
Caselli Family Series #1
Reata Publishing, 2017
Set in South Dakota in 1975, where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beer in a bar, and loaded guns were kept under the counter.
Frankie Valli sang "My Eyes Adored You," and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.
It's within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined-and had been for many years-yet they had no idea.
From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart---and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride's deception.
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The Pretender is different from anything I’ve ever read – and in this case, I liked that difference. Opening in 1975, it centers around a large, close knit Italian/American family living in South Dakota. The writing isn’t as professional and smooth as I’m used to, the pacing isn’t fast, and it sometimes has a young-adult feel, yet difficult topics are handled with ease and grace.
The Pretender is the first of several volumes, reminiscent of the family sagas I enjoyed reading many years ago. The Caselli family is the heart and soul of this novel, and while the main focus is on Tillie and Noah, we get to know others fairly well. I loved the family’s fierce protectiveness of each other and especially liked Tillie’s brother, Marquette. If I wasn’t an only child, I would want a brother just like him.
I was in college during the Vietnam years, so this aspect of the novel hit close to home for me. Hanscom breathes life into the 70s era and Black Hills of South Dakota setting.
I also liked the spiritual themes of love, obedience, and forgiveness – and the strong part that faith played. Characters are flawed and reflect the far-reaching effects of a lie and the unintended consequences of withholding the truth. I like to see a loving relationship slowly grow, and thought that themes of falling in love and spiritual transformation happened a little too quickly, even for fiction. I also need to warn that, rather than coming to a nice conclusion, the ending left me eager for the next book’s release.
The end result is that there were positives and negatives about this story for me, but I was drawn into the story and am eager for more of the Caselli family.
I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Born and raised in South Dakota, Ta`Mara loves to write about the Great Plains and the beauty and people of Italia. While her husband and children manage their two pizza ristoranti, Ta`Mara works full time on The Caselli Family Series, and ministers to women.
It is Ta`Mara s prayer that as the readers explore the truths in these volumes, they will come away with a new perspective on love, forgiveness, obedience, and God's plan for marriage.
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