A Picture of Pretense

Fiction - Intrigue
304 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2021
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Author Biography

You can’t always plan where life will take you. That is certainly true for Christine Noyes. Growing up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts as a tomboy, she spent her youth building forts, playing sports and enjoying the perceived innocence of the 1960’s.
Not having a clear vision of what her life should be, she went where she was most comfortable, to the kitchen. Beginning her work life as a cook at her grandfather’s restaurant at the age of eleven, she spent the next several decades re-inventing herself, becoming an accomplished chef, a sales representative, an entrepreneur, and now a writer and illustrator. She never chose her professions, they chose her.
She married her husband and soulmate, Al, in 1989. They moved to Orange, Massachusetts where, after Al’s passing, Chris remains today with thirty years of wonderful memories to keep her company.
When not at her keyboard, she can be found in her kitchen: back to her roots and love of cooking.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

In A Picture of Pretense by Christine Noyes, we meet a group on the Perth cruise ship and immediately wish we were on board with them. Holly and her dad Mike; Cate and her sister Sheila; Lynn, her husband Doug and wheelchair-bound son Bradley; and the intriguing Derek all find themselves at the same dinner table. They very quickly become friends and spend most of their time together sharing meals, going on outings, sunning at the pool, and trying to figure out who and what Derek is really doing aboard the ship. As the group watches and figures out more than Derek would have liked, the plot thickens and they realize he is not on vacation but has a very different mission.

I loved this book! A Picture of Pretense has so much going for it – romance, intrigue, suspense, friendship, family dynamics and so much more. As we get to know each of the tablemates, we share the surprises that face them. Holly realizes she is not really that shy frightened girl but ready for excitement and romance. Sheila realizes why her marriage is on the rocks. Lynn and Doug realize that Bradley is now growing up and ready for some independent decisions. Derek is busy trying to do his job, keep his new friends out of harm's way, and just may be falling in love. The characters are well presented and the plot is fast-moving with touches of both fiction and realism. Christine Noyes is a skilled author in creating a story that makes for so much enjoyable reading. I highly recommend A Picture of Pretense for young and older readers and my hope is to see this as a made-for-TV movie.

Peggy Jo Wipf

A Picture of Pretense by Christine Noyes starts with eight characters that begin a week-long cruise for different reasons. Celebrating a birthday, new beginnings, spending time with family, expanding their horizons, and catching a mobster or two. Two beautiful sisters, Cate and Sheila; one can't find love and the other can't stay satisfied with the one she has - will this cruise be their answer? Mike wants his shy daughter Holly to experience a carefree life without the problems of a health issue. Holly vows to become brave and enthusiastic. Doug and Lynn hope to see their twelve-year-old son, Bradley, encounter new possibilities outside his handicap. Derek is on a working vacation that leaves little time for fun and romance. As they bond closer, they jeopardize their safety. But it is their bond that saves a life.

I found A Picture of Pretense follows the mood of a cruise. Moments of relaxed reading, the thrill of trying new adventures, and the excitement of meeting new people are mixed with the anticipation of romance and danger. Christine Noyes constructs an engaging plot among strangers who leave as great friends. The author brings the exploits of a cruise together in a fascinating fashion. The characters are well developed with trivial flaws in their personalities which make them come alive. Overall, I finished this novel pleased with the ending. Most left for their destinations, friendships were built for life, hearts were healed and opened, and business was a success. Lives were changed for the better.

Velma Lang

Life on a cruise ship appears to be a new beginning for many passengers in Christine Noyes, A Picture of Pretense. Holly wants an adventure in self-confidence. Sheila is sorting out her marriage to David. Cate was ready for a romantic tryst. At their dinner table for eight, they meet Bradley, a twelve-year-old in a wheelchair, accompanying his parents. Along with Holly’s dad, they make a convivial group who have a rollicking good time on the cruise with dancing, karaoke, beer pong tournaments, and shopping on island stopovers. In the meantime, Cate and Bradley have become intrigued by Derek’s suspicious appearance and false stories. It turns out they are right and they find themselves embroiled in a smuggling plot and involved with the FBI. Is this the cruise from hell or paradise?

A Picture of Pretense by Christine Noyes is both light-hearted and fun but suspenseful with twists and turns that keep you guessing. The characters are likable and emotionally alive so that the reader can identify with them. They grow with interactions and plot development, maturing and resolving personal issues. This contrasts with the bad guys who appear with intentional malice. Fun events and opulent surroundings cleverly disguise the malevolent danger that the characters stumble into. The resolution of their dilemma hinges on one of the characters foiling the plot which nicely ties into the FBI operations. Although this could have been a tall tale beyond belief, the ending is satisfactory in terms of adventure, romance, and a holiday to dine out on. This was a very enjoyable read.