The Pretender

The Pretender

The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise (Reata Publishing, September 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.

Learn more and purchase a copy.


  • This is a powerful story of love, hope, lies, regret and fate. The story focuses around Tillie and Noah. Their lives were ruined and futures changed in one second due to a simple misconception and later when others refused to tell the truth. As we watch the story unfold, you can see how a simple lie can destroy a person. This is a definite must read novel – I loved every moment of it! I felt like the ending is leading into a second book and I really hope that she does continue this story.

  • Fic Gal says:

    This is the first book in a series. I am open to books. If I think a book sounds interesting I’m going to check it out. This story just didn’t work for me.

  • As a whole, I enjoyed The Pretender. The South Dakota setting captured my imagination.

  • I had the hardest time reading this book.

  • This has to of been one of my favorite Christian stories by far that I have this year.

  • This was my first read by Hanscom, but I was drawn in almost immediately. She has a unique way of writing that really draws readers in and engages them.  This was a fast paced read that I couldn’t put down!

  • I really enjoyed this story but, I also was sad for them. Sometimes others really need to stay out of other peoples lives even if they think it is for their own good. 

  • To begin with, I would suggest some tissues. Your emotions may get the best of you at times. From the moment you open the book and begin reading, you are hooked. You won’t want to let go until you’ve read the very last word.

  • This book was well written, but I just didn’t connect with the author and the characters in the book. This does happen from time to time, and it makes me sad when it does happen, and I have to review the book because I hate having to leave reviews like this one. Like I said it was well written and I am sure that it will be a great book for other people it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

  • This was the first book that I have had the opportunity to read by this author. I was not able to put it down. I enjoyed reading about the setting of South Dakota. I felt that I was on a history lesson through out the entire book.

  • I can’t wait to read the rest of this series! Trust me when I say to go ahead and buy all of the books in this series. You will want to keep reading and reading to find out the rest of the story. I highly recommend this book.

  • The author chose a story that brings sadness and sorrow to a reader. While the writing is powerful and the settings are described perfectly, I feel that unless you as a reader want to put down a book and spend the rest of the day or night thinking about the topics included, this may not be a good fit for you.

  • If you are looking for an engaging read I hope you will give The Pretender a try.

  • The first thought that came to my mind after I finished the book was how unique the writing is. It’s gritty, thought provoking and passionate all at the same time.

  • I am always one to root for the heroes, but in this case, I wasn’t that happy with the way this novel rolled out. It is divided into two parts, Noah and then Ty and the series is slated to continue as the novels appear listed at the back of this one. There are too many story lines and characters that are launched onto the reader in the very beginning and you struggle to maintain the connections of who is who while you are going through the novel.

  • lisa Phillips says:

    I just finished this book two days ago and can’t wait to read what happens next. It kept me engaged the whole book. A lot of faith and also heartache. Keeps you wanting the the characters to reconnect. Look forward to continuing to the next book.

  • I was intrigued by the summary of this book, and thought that this would be a book that I would enjoy.

  • I give this one three stars and a G rating for content.

  • I tried several times to get into the book but just couldn’t.

  • The Pretender is an epic family novel with good Christian values. It’s a close knit family with members all looking out for each other. A time when life was seemingly simpler and safer.

  • I hope the sequel will be out soon – these cliffhanger endings are hard on readers! – but if sweeping sagas are your cup of tea, you’ll love The Pretender.

  • When all is said and done, I cannot deny that I’m hooked and eager to get the next installment of this saga. So make of this review what you will!

  • The book kept my interest, hoping Tillie would either discover the truth for herself, or her family would tell her the secrets they held. Hanscom does a fabulous job baiting the hook for the next story in the Caselli Family Series.

  • Moments says:

    Ta’Mara does an incredible job with beginning this series and introducing the reader to the Caselli family, a seemingly typical loving family, the parents who do not want their daughter following and falling for the wrong kind of guy.  There are so many pieces to this story and I cannot wait to read more about the other members of the Caselli family as the characters all became so real to me in the book. 

  • Ta’Mara Hansom’s The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise is an amazing first volume in her “Caselli Family Secrets” series. It recounts the story of Tillie Caselli and Noah Hansen, who have pledged their love for one another and plan to marry. But when the appearance of infidelity to those promises appears, there’s a tragedy that results in lives changed for nearly everyone involved.

  • Is this a “Guys Book”? Not really. More like a modern day “Romeo & Juliet” without all of the family violence. Just some kids that aren’t sure how to communicate with each other during an earlier time in our country that saw a lot rebellious teens not doing a lot of fruitful communicating.

  • The cover and description of the story really intrigued me. I came to this novel with great expectations, but I was not able to connect with the plot lines and the characters. This book just isn’t my cup of tea.

  • Baker Kella says:

    Ta ‘Mara is a great writer and I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions and imagery she used to bring the 70’s to life.

  • I really tried with this book. I couldn’t connect with the story or the characters and ended up giving up about 50% of the way in. I wish I could have liked it more.

  • I did like the strong Christian message as the gospel was explained well and there was much talk of faith, prayer, remaining pure and waiting for a knight rather than a blackguard.

  • So while this one was just OK for me – I know others out there would really love this book! It just wasn’t what I was hoping. So please get it and check it out for yourself.

  • Overall I felt that the plot was a good idea and the writing itself was good, if a bit simplistic for my taste. Quite a few reviewers really loved “The Pretender” which is why I think it’s just not my type book.

  • amandainpa says:

    An enjoyable story with strong family dynamics…definitely ends with many unresolved issues and had some frustrating moments of misunderstanding.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed The Pretender and how the characters intertwined. I was a bit disappointed by the ending because it means I will have to read the second book, coming out later this month, to find out what happens. But, I feel like I’m a part of these people’s lives now and I must know what happens next!

  • I was drawn in by the unusual scope and concept of this novel, and eager to give a new novelist a try. But I am sorry to say I could not get into this book. I was immediately put off by the disregard for commonly held editorial conventions — unintentional, I’m sure, but distracting. I

  • The Pretender is book 1 of the series. This installment gives the reader a heartwarming beginning to and promises a great series. Gear up and expect a long read. The Pretender had a saga type quality. Not a bad thing. But this is not a story than you can sit down and read in a setting or a few hours. I enjoyed book 1 and look forward to reading the remainder of the series.

  • The author is an imaginative writer and the story is definitely not predictable. However, it wasn’t my favorite read. It had to much go on for me and I was sad that so much of the story was left unfinished. Despite that, I do find myself wondering what will happen to Tillie and Noah in the books to come. So I am not totally opposed to reading book two if I get a chance. I would like to recommend that you check out more reviews from other readers and then decide if The Pretender looks like a book you would enjoy.

  • The Pretender by Ta’mara Hanscom is the first novel in her new Caselli Family series. I was drawn in by the description of the book, but quickly found it hard to concentrate on the story. I am not sure if this is supposed to be a young adult novel, but I immediately felt the rebelliousness and anger of Noah from the first page. The emotions of the characters leapt out from the first page, and it was so strong I actually had trouble concentrating on the plot line. The story line appears to be well thought out and suspenseful, but I had trouble getting past the raw, almost too exaggerated emotions of the characters and the writing style itself.

  • A very powerful love story that ends up being continued to the next book. Tillie and Noah fall in love at first sight while she is there with a group visiting his town. What I liked about the book was it kept me interested from start to finish but did not like how it ended. I would love to read more of the series sometime to see how the story develops.

  • EmpowerMoms says:

    I really wanted to like this book because the description sounded good. However, I struggled through most of it because there were so many characters mentioned and the story line kept jumping back and forth between people.

  • Told through alternating perspectives, the story shows how both Noah and Tillie fell for each other, suffered heartbreak, and then tried to move on with their lives. In order to see any kind of resolution the reader will clearly have to continue reading the series.

  • The story definitely grabs your attention – and emotions

  • SK Bell says:

    I instantly wanted to know how these characters might be connected. I imagine it probably really is a great book but even after eight chapters I just couldn’t get into it.

  • Once you start this, you will not want to put it down. I actually put it down to go to sleep, and the next thing you know I am awake and continued to read.

  • This is NOT a typical romance, nor is it historical fiction. It is a story about family, disappointments, paths unseen and more.

  • Some good thoughts and little lessons sprinkled throughout. Sometimes novels centered on family life can be really nice and sweet, if you take the time for them. Perhaps some affection grows for the characters as you journey through daily life with them. I quite enjoyed the last part of The Pretender.

  • This novel really kind of blew me away. At first I was not so sure I liked how the story was going, however as I continued reading and got to know the characters and their situations, I was feeling pretty absorbed in their lives.

  • I really liked the premise of this story and the characters.

  • This book was exhilarating from the beginning, however, it is a big book with over 300 pages and fine print. This is one book that was hard to put down, I would fall asleep while reading it. Not because I was bored with the book, but because I wanted to keep reading even though I was tired.

  • I have to say that this story completely surprised me and I loved the story and the characters.

  • The only thing I did not like about this book is the fact they I need to wait for the next book in the series to find out what happens with our star crossed lovers…yes I was that invested. I enjoyed meeting this very intriguing family that includes the quintessential Italian parents, the artistic and passionate youngest, and only, sister and brood of doting older brothers who range from cowboy to international spy to up and coming politician. They are loud, protective and determined to preserve the family honor.

  • It was easy for me to imagine the physical setting. I enjoyed the story; it was hard for me to put the book down.

  • Book by Book says:

    The Pretender is the first book in Ta’Mara Hanscom’s Caselli Family series and sets it up to be quite full of drama, secrets, and unpredictable plotlines. These elements held my attention as I read The Pretender

  • The Pretender is different from anything I’ve ever read – and I liked that difference.

  • Ta’Mara Hanscom is a new author to me. And she has certainly caught my attention with The Pretender! There are four other books in the series and I will be reading them as well. In this first book, readers are introduced to the Caselli and Hansen families through Noah and Tillie. This cast of characters is absolutely intriguing. There are so many secrets and family dynamics at play. I got only a couple of pages in and was completely invested in the story. And the ending! Hanscom leaves readers hanging. I especially like how Hanscom had the gospel woven throughout the story; not in a preachy way but as a natural part of the characters’ interaction with one another.

  • What a riveting read that really keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole book! I loved the characters and how they interacted with each other and really grow on you throughout the book. This really brings the 1970’s to life which was an interesting time with so much change and struggles. This was a new author but I am looking forward to trying out her other books!

  • I fell in love with this story from the start, I could not put this book down and it left me wanting more. I love Ta’mara Hanscom’s style of writing especially the pace of the story and the way the words come alive in my mind so that I felt like I was there with Tillie throughout this journey. The characters in this book are well written and very realistic.

  • I so enjoyed the setting of The Pretender – post-Vietnam, 1970s Black Hills of South Dakota. At least in the genres I commonly read (Christian fiction topmost among them), that time period is often overlooked.

  • This book was an amazing and compelling read!

  • The storyline is good, a good clean story to read. I encourage readers to check this one out

  • I fell in love with this story the first time I read it. The characters, the location, and the Caselli’s came to life for me and I haven’t forgotten them since. Reading this book again was like having coffee with an old friend I haven’t seen in a few years. This is my third time around, and I will likely read it again through the years.

    What do I love about this book? It’s realistic! This story could be any of our stories. Family secrets, sheltering parents, sins of omission, and so much more! The book was so realistic to me, at first, I thought it was based on a true story and started attempting to google the Caselli’s, only to find out, they truly are a fictional family! I admire their love for family, for each other, their desire to protect their own, and their love for God. They are not perfect, and there are regrets, but they are real.

  • Overall, it is a great start to a series that I will need/want to continue to read. The characters were vivid and full of life, the era spoke of a time not remembered and gave a breath to a story that felt made for readers. I am eager to see what is next in the series. Now to add the rest to a review pile!

  • When reading the description, the novel seemed very interesting. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get into the book.

  • I like the concept of the book and the characters. Sometimes it felt like I was right there in the room with the characters. Quite often I wanted to grab a few of them by the back of their neck and ask them what they thought they were doing. Other times, I cheered them on when they showed their mettle. The story line, and the possibilities of what could happen in future books, is intriguing.

  • For me, this one started out slow and I had to sort of force myself to keep going but…
    I am glad I did because…it turned into this sweet story about Tillie and Noah that was incredibly captivating. I went from trying not to put it down and forcing myself to continue to not being able to put it down and a lot of late nights in bed reading because I just had to know what was going to happen next! How was this scene going to play out? Is this really going to happen? The questions continued and so did the story so i continued my late nights 🙂 The plot got so thick and was so good with the backdrop being 1975 South Dakota. I am just so glad that there is a second book coming!

  • More Of Him says:

    This is a really fascinating story and, while there were some slow parts for me, I would definitely read it again and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

  • Although the story has several down sides, it is also is a good reminder of the struggles of war veterans, as well as the positive influence and strong relationships of both family and romantic.

  • Write a Review

     characters available