What do you hope readers take with them after they’ve read it?
I hope readers come away from the story having laughed and smiled over the crazy antics (some that were plucked directly from my mothering life) but also learned more about the ups and downs of the foster system, some perhaps even finding themselves called to get involved in some way. That’s what happened to our family. After writing this book, we were led to start fostering ourselves and our house recently became officially approved.
“I LOVE THIS STORY! . . . The Dating Charade is fresh and fun. I was entertained and amused, and also moved by its incredible and unexpected intensity. Melissa Ferguson is a clever storyteller, infusing her writing with equal servings of wit and depth. . . . this heartwarming book has earned its spot on my Favorites of 2019 list.”
He swung the locker closed. He needed to get it together.
In the stillness of his room he lay on his back, picked up his phone. It glowed in the otherwise dark space. Even as he typed the words in the app store and hit the download button, he felt the heat on his neck, the shame in even considering the terribly desperate option. He twisted his neck to double-check the lock on his room door. The mere act of looking into one of these sites depleted the level of his manhood. This was just testing the waters, he reminded himself as he swiftly created a username and logged in, scrolling down the page as dozens of faces popped up. He would just take a look around, see if this was a real possibility for expanding his connections . . .
“…a family drama story with both Cassie and Jett finding their way with the kids they’ve inherited. And, neither one knowing about the other’s situation with miscommunication occurring. . . . this was a delightful read. It was heart-warming and often heart-tugging.”
How does this book stand out in this genre?
The Dating Charade is a bit different from the typical rom/com, particularly because while there are several laugh-out-loud moments, there’s also the story revolving around the children and the issues they have to face (abandonment, addictions, foster care). So, I guess I’d say, The Dating Charade is happiness and total happily-ever-after with a bow, but also carries a message about the power of family, however they came to be.
“Such a funny and heartwarming story!
I don’t always enjoy stories that combine humor and serious elements. A balance is needed to make this work. To not make the humor seem out of place in the midst of the tragedy or to make the more serious elements seem like a shock because they are so extreme. Melissa Ferguson crafted a story that had me laughing and pulling out the Kleenex! . . . If you enjoy laughing and romance, I highly recommend The Dating Charade!”
He rested his hand on the top of her car door and paused, the door separating their bodies but their faces suddenly not so far apart. “Till Wednesday, then.”
The exposed skin of his neck was red from the chill, and beneath his form-fitting jacket sat a pair of dark jeans that complemented his green, button-down oxford. Any drift of cologne—if he wore any—was overpowered by the thousands of pines surrounding them, infusing their world with shouts of Christmas.
Nat King Cole’s melody, “Almost Like Being in Love,” came over the outdoor speakers, drawing them toward one another like the red-velvet ribbon draped around the large Christmas trees in shop windows.
“Till Wednesday,” Cassie repeated softly.
“Ferguson has been added to my must-read, auto-buy list of authors. I loved her writing style, the characters, and this story! So much emotion and heartbreak, but so much hope and love as well, making the story not too heavy, which is the perfect combination. Definitely recommended to both Christian and non-Christian contemporary romance readers.”
Cassie’s face hurt from smiling. For ten minutes she drove with that smile—a slaphappy grin. When a car cut her off turning into Food City, she had nothing but a Merry-Christmas-to-all grin to give him. As she slowly passed the lights of an ambulance and two feuding citizens beside busted cars, her wide and vibrant smile met them, and with understandable misunderstanding both citizens threw a few choice words toward her before turning back on each other. But there was nothing to be done about it. The smile wasn’t going anywhere.
What if he was the one?
“From laugh out loud moments to more emotional and serious layers, The Dating Charade has appeal far beyond its cute cover and promising synopsis. . . . With just one novel to her name (she has a novella I’m wanting to read!), Melissa Ferguson has found her way onto my must-read author list. I eagerly look forward to whatever she pens next!”
“Okay, so first; WOW!!! I’ve loved books and I’ve laughed reading books but never so much as this one. This book? I have no words! It was messy, sappy, happy, and wonderfully one of the best books I have ever read!”
Jett whispered tersely, pointing to the thrown items. “Drew. Pick. Up. Your. Macaroni.”
Drew looked up at him while shoveling another handful—literally, as in hand without the spoon—of macaroni into his mouth. “Can’t. I’m a dinosaur. Dinosaurs don’t have hands.”
Jett’s uncle stifled a smile.
Jett himself stifled a look that would’ve slid that smile right off his uncle’s face. He set the fork down and stood. “Young man . . .”
“This is a fun read but it does go deeper than you expect. Ms. Ferguson does an excellent job of balancing out the light with the dark. I just wish, in a way, that there was more romance. But hey, I love romance books. Do yourself a favor and pick up this gem of a book. You will thank me later.”
” loved this! Getting to see these characters interact, both adults and children, made this a great read. Cassie and Jett are two amazing people who really step up to the plate when it comes to taking care of the three children they have each suddenly found in their care. Taking care of children is never easy, and these two were thrust into that with three kids!”
So, this was how it was going to be. He’d thought that exact thought a thousand times since entering that long stretch of highway between his aunt’s house and his own. Every time, however, the blow lessened. At first it was like he had stood against a wall, and a truck had slammed into his body at seventy-five miles an hour. Then it felt like being strapped to a tree, an archer shooting an arrow into his chest. This morning it was a brass-knuckled punch to the face. Now, however, the hand giving the blow had softened, no more of a sting than if Sarah had slapped him on the cheek. He was getting used to the pain.
Could perhaps even acknowledge a part of him liked watching the two small heads huddled close together beside him, Dakota’s little hand in his. Could acknowledge he was getting used to seeing a stack of diapers next to a stack of movies.
It wasn’t as lonely.
What is your next release and/or what are you working on now?
M: The Dating Charade released December third (woo!!!) and I’m working The Cul-de-sac War coming out fall of 2020. 🙂
“All the hearts on the cover of The Dating Charade are entirely fitting because this story has heart in a big way (and a healthy dose of hilarity, too… often at the expense of the main characters)! I laughed, I cried, I hugged my kids, I told one of my kids to read this book! . . . Melissa Ferg[u]son’s debut is a “nothing but net” three-point shot for the win! I highly recommend this story!”
“There are many hilarious situations, and I loved how the children keep Cassie and Jett on their toes. A heartwarming debut, with lighthearted humor, with a heartfelt core. Highly enjoyable read.”
“The novel was a fun and cute read. I like that even though Cassie was jaded, she still tried to open up her heart to love. . . . a novel about two separate people adopting children and learning to care about others than themselves. Overall, I like the idea of family being people who you choose and not only the ones you are born into.”
Jett was a bona fide hero.
And she couldn’t let him go.
Pulling herself back to the present, Cassie shook out the pink tablecloth and threw it across the Ping-Pong table, shaking out her thoughts as she did so.
Meanwhile, Bree, with crossed arms, stared at her as though she’d watched every bit of Cassie’s playback reel. “Listen, if you don’t call him, I’m going to. I’ll marry him myself, Cassandra Everson.”
“I totally fell madly in love with this book and all of its characters. . . . And there are plenty of moments that will tug at your heartstrings. I admit that I cried both sad and happy tears while reading this book, as well as almost laughing to the point of tears. There’s just so much love and greatness in this story. I’m so glad that I picked it up.”
When you are not writing, what other hats do you wear? What do you do for fun?
When not writing, I’m a mother of twin 4-year-olds and a 2-year-old daughter, and they stay all day with me. I also teach Bible and Religion online primarily for my alma mater, King University.
“The Dating Charade is a super cute, fast paced and fun read. I knew that this was a debut novel when I started reading it but it certainly doesn’t seem like a debut novel at all, it reads as a novel penned by a more experienced author, so kudos to Ms. Ferguson for that.”
“This author did such a great job with the struggles and horrors of foster care, trying to be a single parent, and trying to just get thru the day-loving and hating every minute of it-being exhausted but grateful at the end of the day. As a parent, I could relate to so many of the struggles, laughs and tears. I loved reading this book!”
Star, as she was always so keenly aware, was nowhere to be seen.
For the past seven years she’d watched for the magic minute when the girls left their schools and made their way to the Haven. At the window, at 2:15 p.m. every day, she’d waited for them to come. Like the rumblings of thunder before a heavy storm, she and her staff would feel the anticipation, the shake, before the magic minute struck. The sudden rush at the computer to finish that report, to send that e-mail, to put the finishing touches on that flyer. The dash to the coffee station for a refill, because it very well could be the last calm moment for the rest of the day.
Often Cassie couldn’t stand it any longer and would step out the front door with her fresh mug, beckoned by the distant sound of the final school bell.
“Oh my goodness! Add this book to your TBR pile right now! If you love clean romance written from a Christian perspective, The Dating Charade is a book for you. I had to keep checking to make sure this was “for real” Melissa Ferguson’s first book, because it sure doesn’t read like a debut novel! Sure enough, it is! I’m already looking forward to her next book.”
All excerpts from The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson. Used with the permission of the publisher, Thomas Nelson. Copyright © 2019 by Melissa Ferguson.
The Dating Charade
By Melissa Ferguson
Contemporary Romance, Christian
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 336 Pages
December 3rd, 2019 by Thomas Nelson
Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins.
Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.
But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.
No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?
Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.
About the Author