Title: The Pretender
Series: Games People Play #3
Author: HelenKay Dimon
Format: Paperback & eBook, 368 pgs
Published: Dec. 26, 2017 by Avon
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
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.
Harris has changed his ways to become a Robin Hood thief but his latest mission has him embroiled in a murder.
Gabby is the rich girl no one wants to feel sorry for and when her sister is murdered, even her uncle thinks she could be to blame.
Harris knows Gabby isn't guilty but he can't reveal himself, however, with help from his friends he's going to work to clear her name.
Old secrets and new attractions will be exposed.
"You ever make a mistake and feel like you'll probably spend a lifetime trying to fix it?"
Third in the series, Games People Play, we have Harris the art thief as the star. I haven't read the others in the series yet but I didn't have a problem following along. There are obviously past characters, Harris' "boss" and future stars, Harris' friend Damon but each relationship was fleshed out enough to provide a good understanding of the group's world.
As with most of Dimon's books, the story is full of danger, mystery, and sex. I thought this started off intense and grabbed my attention right away with a murder that leads to a tightly controlled whodunit. The story takes place on an island with only a handful of characters. Our hero and heroine's characters start off a bit in the shadows as Harris' background takes a while to be revealed and Gabby's past and motivations are kept hidden in favor of extending the mystery. I felt Gabby's story was dragged out for too long and her past reveals had me, as the reader, feeling a bit lost in terms of her character. While getting to know the characters felt stagnant and hidden, their attraction for one another felt too swift. It was hard for me to get into their first sexual encounter because of how leery they still seemed to be with one another and how I didn't really feel like I knew them yet.
As I mentioned, this is a tight intimate story with only a handful of secondary characters that are mostly red-herrings to keep you guessing until the end. Gabby's uncle plays the out in front villain but as the story goes on, he feels pushed to the side and starts to feel more like a villainous outline rather than a fully filled out character. There are three other characters that shadow the sidelines until the end where the mystery suddenly speeds up and our villain's reasons and motivations are thrust forward. Harris' friend Damon plays a good sized role and he has next hero written all over him.
Having this set on an island provided a sense of danger and the small cast kept the mystery intimate. Gabby and Harris' attraction feels a bit sudden and their sex scenes start to take over in place of depth and moving along the mystery side; the middle drags. However, if you're looking for some sex and mystery, Dimon never fails to deliver.
Suggested Reading Order:
The Fixer (Games People Play #1)
The Protector (Games People Play #4)