Pretending by Holly Bourne Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

TRIGGER WARNING: PLOT INVOLVES MENTIONS AND PLOT LINES INVOLVING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND TRAUMA. 

A woman dealing with a traumatic past finds herself leading a somewhat double life after dealing with a series of bad relationships in author Holly Bourne’s “Pretending”. 

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The Synopsis

April is kind, pretty and relatively normal—yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.

Gretel is perfect—beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She’s your regular, everyday Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-Next-Door with no problems.

When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun—especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

The Review

This was a fantastic yet harrowing look into the modern world of dating, relationships and the boundaries that people cross every day. The story is also one of cycles, as cause and effect play a pivotal role in the theme of this narrative. 

The author dives emotionally into the sad yet true nature of a male-dominated society that makes things such as dating such a harrowing experience. Add on top of that the trauma of an experience where the protagonist found someone in her life crossing a line that should never be crossed, and in the process left her emotionally and mentally scarred by the event. The way the author showcases the impact this event has had on the protagonist’s psyche is really engaging to read, and how the character evolves over the course of the narrative keeps the reader invested throughout.

The Verdict

At times darkly comical, at others a shocking yet much-need narrative on the modern world of dating and holding those accountable for crossing horrific lines, the novel “Pretending” by Holly Bourne is a must-read story. The way the story plays out really highlights the need to not only help those who have suffered tragic events but to work to prevent them from happening by having more open and honest discussions in society is perfectly felt in this narrative, and the intimate inner dialogues the protagonist has with herself and her alter ego make the character growth throughout the novel feel much more impactful. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Holly started her writing career as a news journalist, where she was nominated for Best Print Journalist of the Year. She then spent six years working as an editor, a relationship advisor, and general ‘agony aunt’ for a youth charity – helping young people with their relationships and mental health.

Inspired by what she saw, she started writing teen fiction, including the best-selling, award-winning ‘Spinster Club’ series which helps educate teenagers about feminism. When she turned thirty, Holly wrote her first adult novel, ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’, examining the intensified pressures on women once they hit that landmark.

Alongside her writing, Holly has a keen interest in women’s rights and is an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health problems. She’s helped create online apps that teach young people about sexual consent, works with Women’s Aid to spread awareness of abusive relationships, and runs Rethink’s mental health book club.

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