The Pretender (Games People Play #3) by HelenKay Dimon
Series: Games People Play #3
Also in this series: The Fixer, The Enforcer (Games People Play #2), The Negotiator (Games People Play #2.5)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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“Sexy, emotional, funny . . . Dimon gives it all to her readers.” —New York Times Bestselling Author Jill Shalvis
They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and Harrison Tate is proof. Once a professional burglar, he now makes a lawful living tracking down stolen art. No one needs to know about his secret sideline, “liberating” artifacts acquired through underhanded methods. At least until one of those jobs sees him walking in on a murder.
Gabrielle Wright has long been estranged from her wealthy family, but she didn’t kill her sister. Trouble is, the only person who can prove it is the sexy, elusive criminal who shouldn’t have been at the island estate on that terrible night. She’s not expecting honor among thieves—or for their mutual attraction to spark into an intense inferno of desire.
Under the guise of evaluating her family’s art, Harris comes back to the estate hoping to clear Gabby’s name. But returning to the scene of the crime has never been riskier, with their hearts and lives on the line.
The Games People Play series is all about a group of men with traumatic, messed up childhoods who create a found family and go on to become extremely successful (of course). Book 3 is about brother Harrison Tate. Harrison is what might be termed a cat burglar. Apparently in the past he was more indiscriminate in his thieving, but now he’s a “good” thief who only steals from people who deserve it…supposedly. When the book opens, he is in the middle of a job and happens upon a recent murder. He runs out, but not before the victim’s sister catches an unidentifiable glimpse of him. Fast forward to the present, when Harrison, with the help of Wren, has returned to the scene of the crime posing as an art appraiser. His main objective is to help the sister, Gabrielle Wright, who was never charged but has fallen under suspicion for having killed her sister. Harrison knows she didn’t do it, and he’s been wracked with guilt that he didn’t do more to help before. He’s back to protect Gabrielle and see justice done. Gabrielle is hiding some pretty big secrets herself, and Harrison is lying about who he is. When they start falling for each other, it adds a complication neither one particularly welcomes.
I liked Harrison, in a way. He is very sweet and gentle in a way I think some of the other brothers aren’t. I enjoyed the verbal dance he and Gabrielle do as they circle each other. They both know they are attracted but that it’s a bad idea to get involved. I really felt for Gabrielle, too. She has a lot of unfair shit happen to her, and it made me so sad to see. She gives so much to protect the people she loves, and she really deserved her happy ending.
It’s a bit hard to get around the fact that Harrison is a thief. “But he steals for good reasons” was kind of a cop out, in my mind. Hell, the whole catalyst for this book is that he was stealing from Gabrielle’s sister–there were “good” reasons involved but she certainly wasn’t a villain. I didn’t quite love that. An even bigger issue is the lying, my own personal hot button. I sound like a broken record about lying, I know, but Dimon keeps including these major lies in her books and it keeps yanking me out of the stories! (Clearly this series is based around characters lying and hiding secrets and I am a glutton for punishment for continuing to read them.) Unlike the lies in Book 2, which come out in the middle, Harrison doesn’t ever fess up to Gabrielle until the very end. I totally understand why he kept lying, but there is no way it was not going to go badly when the truth finally came out. Gabrielle never got a chance to know him or come to terms with what happened. There are all kinds of meager justifications for why he kept silent and how he was trying to protect Gabrielle behind the scenes, but I was just not liking it. Still, I felt awfully sorry for Harrison when he realizes he fucked it all up. I was actually tearing up at the end when he comes into a work meeting and realizes Gabrielle’s there…ack, he is so heartbroken it pained me! If he had confessed earlier on, I would have been a happier reader.
I think you could easily begin this series at this book, although Book 1 was my favorite and I’d absolutely suggest you start there. I know I enjoyed, but didn’t love, Book 3. If you have an easier time overlooking the hero lying than I do, this may appeal even more.
Games People Play Series
Grade: 3.5 out of 5