The Dating Charade
by Melissa Ferguson

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. 

“A heartwarming charmer.” —Sheila Roberts, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Moonlight Harbor series 

“The Dating Charade will keep you smiling the entire read. Ferguson not only delights us with new love, with all its attendant mishaps and misunderstandings, but she takes us deeper in the hearts and minds of vulnerable children as Cassie and Jett work out their families—then their dating lives. An absolute treat!” —Katherine Reay, bestselling author of The Printed Letter Bookshop 

“The Dating Charade is hilarious and heartwarming with characters you truly care about, super fun plot twists and turns, snappy prose, and a sweet romance you’re rooting for.” —Rachel Linden, bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees

“Melissa Ferguson is a sparkling new voice in contemporary rom-com. Though her novel tackles meaningful struggles—social work, child abandonment, adoption—it’s also fresh, flirty, and laugh-out-loud funny. Ferguson is going to win fans with this one!” —Lauren Denton, bestselling author of The Hideaway and Glory Road 

“A jolt of energy featuring one of the most unique romantic hooks I have ever read. Personality and zest shine through Ferguson’s evident enjoyment at crafting high jinks and misadventures as two people slowly make way for love in the midst of major life upheaval. A marvelous treaty on unexpected grace and its life-changing chaos, Cassie and Jett find beautiful vulnerability in redefining what it means to live happily-ever-after.” —Rachel McMillan, author of The London Restoration and the Three Quarter Time series 

“Ferguson delivers a stellar debut. The Dating Charade is a fun, romantic albeit challenging look at just what it takes to fall in love and be a family. You'll think of these characters long after the final page.” —Rachel Hauck, New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress 

  • A sweet romantic comedy that can be read as a standalone.
  • Book length: 76,000 words.
  • Includes discussion questions for reading groups.