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Havenbrook #5

Small Town Pretender

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Asher McCoy can win over a crowd with a husky note and a strum of his guitar, but proving to a judge he’s responsible enough to gain custody of his niece and nephew? Not so easy. His big idea—a fake marriage. And who better to play his doting bride than his longtime best friend? He just needs to get her home first...

Natalie Haven couldn’t get away from her suffocating hometown fast enough. For years, she’s fluttered around the globe as a freelance photographer. And if that unconventional job pisses off her daddy? Well, all the better. But when her best friend sends out an S.O.S., she heads back to the one place she swore she’d never land.

Except a fake marriage means a not-so-fake living arrangement, including only one bed. Nat's witnessed enough women fall for Asher’s charms, but she refuses to be one of them. Because permanence isn’t in her blood. Not even for him.

325 pages, ebook

First published June 24, 2021

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About the author

Brighton Walsh

40 books1,283 followers
Award-winning USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before taking her storytelling in a different direction and reconnecting with her first love: writing. When she’s not lost in her own made up worlds, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her real life hero of a husband, her two kids—both taller than her—and her dog who thinks she’s a queen. Her boy-filled house is the setting for dirty socks galore, frequent dance parties (okay, so it's mostly her, by herself, while her children look on in horror), and more laughter than she thought possible. Visit her online at brightonwalsh.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 55 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica Alcazar.
3,885 reviews441 followers
June 25, 2021
I have loved this series from the very beginning. Every single book has made my heart soar! The town, the people, the stories, all of it, it’s all amazingly heartwarming even when it isn’t! Take this story for example. Brighton could have made the choice to make this journey a all full of angst and heartbreak, but she made a different choice. Even the circumstances behind Asher and Nat coming together were writing as an uplifting circumstance. If you read the blurb, then you know the circumstances I’m referring to without me going into detail. I won’t lie and say I didn’t have multiple cryfests while I read this story, but that’s really only because of some personal circumstances of my own and I just got all up in my feelings a few times. There is more hope and heart in this journey than anything else and it was amazing!

This is the only series I’ve fully read by Brighton as a solo author, but I am comfortable saying that her style is an easy style to read. Her stories make you feel good and uplift you, even in the worst of circumstances. That’s all her and her writing expertise. She chooses to write true to life storylines with relatable characters in realistic circumstances. When you read a book written by her, you can see yourself in the story, a part of the narrative and it gives you an even better reading experience because of it. This friends to more story should be on everyone’s kindle stat, so go do the thing,k. :)
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,333 followers
August 27, 2021
Read more of my reviews @ The Infinite Limits of Love.

Friends-to-lovers romance fans, rejoice because Small Town Pretender is the book for you! Brighton Walsh swept me off my feet with this sweet, charming, and sexy romance novel between two friends who come together while supporting each other through a difficult time.

When musician Asher is forced to return home to Havenbrook to look after his niece and nephew following the death of his sister and brother-in-law, the very first person he calls for help is his best friend, Nat. Even though the idea of returning to Havenbrook is stifling to wanderlust-driven Nat, she drops everything to help support her friend. What ensues is a fake marriage to retain custody of Asher's niece and nephew as per his sister's wishes, two friends being forced into proximity, and maybe realizing that their feelings run deeper than even friendship.

Though the circumstance that pushes Asher and Nat together is tragic, Small Town Pretender remains a vibrant, positive, and hopeful novel throughout. Brighton Walsh knows how to inject my veins with all the serotonin and this book was no different. I'm not always fond of the friends-to-lovers trope. However, here, I was completely gaga over it. Asher and Nat's dynamic is filled with nothing but genuine love and mutual respect for each other. Underneath all the love, we find simmering sexual tension. The chemistry only heightens as the book progresses and I was all up in feels about these two lovebirds. There were plenty of sweet and heart-wrenching moments, especially when the little ones were involved. The book also delivers on the steam. As some of you may know, Brighton Walsh writes some of the best dirty-talking heroes and Asher certainly had a way with his words in the bedroom!

As with all of Brighton's novels, The Havenbrook series has been an absolute joy to read. If you like family-driven small-town romances with lots of fun tropes explored, you'll want to check out this series.

Content notes: on-page sex, accident leading to death

Relationship disclosure: Brighton Walsh & I are mutuals on social media.
Profile Image for PP's Bookshelf.
2,041 reviews298 followers
June 18, 2021
Small Town Pretender by Brighton Walsh is a swoony, sassy and sweet small town romance where best friends fall in love through a series of complex circumstances. I loved Nat and Asher and they have an amazing chemistry that is soul deep.

Nat has fled from Havenbrook as soon she could to pursue her career as a gifted photographer and get away from the stiffling small town. When her best friend Asher McCoy informs her about death of his sister and brother in law, she came back without hesitation. Asher is a growing musician who is now in charge of 4 year old June and 8 months old Owen. He is clueless and flustered and Nat is doing her best to help him. And that includes a fake marriage to win the custody battle with the evil grandparents. Only it doesn't feel fake so much. Can Asher ask Nat to put her roots in a town she wanted to escape? Does Nat want this instant family more than her freedom?

I am not a fan of third person narration at all. And that's why I was having a hard time getting into the story. But I pushed forward and the writing was good so after some adjustments, I was into the story. It had the magic of small town romance. Big families who love each other, nosey citizens, best friends forever..like those. Nat was an interesting character. She has this colourful, lively and sassy personality with great sense of humor, recklessness and unconditional love. Ashe made me swoon. I mean nothing is sexier than a bearded musician who leaves everything to take care of his newly acquired family. Nat and Asher had the comfortable camaraderie from the beginning. Trust wasn't an issue. And then the sizzling hot chemistry invaded. Asher, being the great guy he is, wanted to set her free but broke each other's heart before deciding to admit his feelings.

Small Town Pretender by Brighton Walsh was sometimes funny, sometimes intense, sometimes emotional and sometimes super sexy. Overall you can expect a good time in Havenbrook.

I reviewed an early copy voluntarily
Profile Image for Jackie Wright.
4,188 reviews79 followers
June 25, 2021
Brighton Walsh is a new author to me so this is my first visit to Havenbrook but it certainly won’t be my last because Nat and Asher’s friends to lovers story ticked all my boxes.
Nat left Havenbrook to follow her career, she never intended coming back but when her best friend calls saying he needs her, she returns without hesitation.
Asher is just about to hit it big with his music career when tragedy strikes when his sister and brother in law are killed, leaving him with two small children to care for. What follows is two friends learning to cope with grief, two small children and grandparents fighting all the decisions they make so they do what is needed and create a fake relationship to keep the judge happy. But what happens when feelings come into to play will love be enough for Nat to want to stay …..
This book touched me on so many levels, I smiled, I swooned and I shed a tear as I joined Asher and Nat’s journey, I fell hard and fast for Asher, I adored Nat and I loved those two small children who’s life was upturned in a blink of an eye. This book was everything I expected and I can’t wait to play catch up with the previous books in the series as soon as time permits. Wonderful read that I High recommend to all small towns/friends to lovers readers.

Profile Image for Kim.
2,435 reviews378 followers
June 29, 2021
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

All the stars! All the feels! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Nat and Asher and I have limited space to do it here, so I’m going to keep it brief. Heartbreak and loss brought them together, but it’s what they did with the opportunity that hit me in all the right ways. This perfect little family they found together obliterated my feels and I loved every moment of it. Their book was the perfect combination of heat and heart, something Brighton excels at in her books. Havenbrook is one of my favorite fictional small towns for so many reasons, but the biggest one is probably characters like Nat, Asher, and all the others.
Profile Image for Deanna (A Novel Glimpse).
3,235 reviews35 followers
June 24, 2021
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Brighton Walsh's Havenbrook series has cemented its place in my heart as one of my favorite small town romance series over and over again with each new book released. I absolutely adored this latest release, Small Town Pretender

Nat and Asher's book was everything I was hoping for. These two may have left town as teenagers, but they managed to keep their tight knit friendship over the years. The reason Asher had to try to get custody of his sister's kids made me sad, but loved that it brought him and then Nat back to town. Their fake marriage turned real was so much fun to read. Nat and Asher had amazing chemistry that made the move from friends to more all the more believable. I just loved them together! They were a great couple and 

It wasn't as simple as both of them being together, though. Both Asher and Nat had lived somewhat of a nomadic life prior to their return to Havenbrook. I liked how they each, separately, had to think through the decisions regarding their careers. Being tied to Havenbrook through the kids was a huge deal to both of them. I was so glad that this aspect of the story wasn't skipped over. It was important to both their characters.

As with the rest of this series, the Haven family also played a big part. I loved the sisterly dynamics and also the parental ones. Nat's relationship with her family wasn't always easy, and I was excited to see where things ended up between them all. I loved how they stepped up to help Asher and Nat through everything. The way they made those kids immediately part of the family made me so happy.

Small Town Pretender was a great addition this series and I really, really hope it's not going to be the end for Havenbrook. Maybe there are some friends that needs books or cousins that could pop out of the woodwork or something. I just don't want to leave these characters and town behind! 

You can find this review on A Novel Glimpse .
Profile Image for Laurie.
1,361 reviews22 followers
June 27, 2021
Photographer Natalie Haven and musician/songwriter Asher McCoy had been best friends ever since Asher's family moved to the small town of Havenbrook, Mississippi when he was in the first grade. They remained close even though they both left town after high school to pursue their careers, talking or texting nearly every day and seeing each other whenever possible. Naturally, Nat was the first person Asher called when faced with an unexpected tragedy, and she immediately rushed to his side. She wasn't thrilled at the prospect of an extended stay in Havenbrook, which had always felt more like a prison than her home, but she'd do anything for Asher - even enter into a fake marriage so that he could retain custody of his late sister's kids. It was only supposed to be temporary; as soon as Asher's guardianship was assured, Nat would be free to resume her adventures around the globe. However, the more time they spent together, the more it started to feel like they were a real family. Would Nat really be able to leave Asher and the kids behind?

Asher and Nat were both incredibly likeable, three-dimensional characters, and I loved them as a couple. They just seemed to fit together, probably because they had been friends for so long and knew each other inside and out. Their biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance stability for Asher's niece and nephew, June and Owen, with the demands of their careers and Nat's need for adventure. They made things harder on themselves by avoiding having a tough conversation and instead assuming that they already knew what the other wanted, but luckily for them, their mutual best friend Nash refused to let them give up on their marriage without a fight.

Overall, "Small Town Pretender" was a sweet, heartwarming story with the perfect amount of steam, and I highly recommend it for all contemporary romance readers. It was the first book I've ever read by Brighton Walsh but certainly won't be the last.

*Review copy provided by the author via Wildfire Marketing Solutions. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Julie Booklover.
983 reviews21 followers
June 20, 2021
4.5 Stars

“I didn’t come for Havenbrook. I came for you.”

I loved the small town, big family, cast of characters that this book gave me. I had not read any previous books, but that did not matter; I got right into the story.

Nat left Havenbrook with the intention of never looking back. Her wanderlust taking her wherever she can get a photography job. When her best friend calls and needs her, she returns without hesitation.

Musician Asher McCoy is on his way to bigger things when his sister and brother-in-law are killed, leaving him with her two small children. He needs help, yes family is near, but he needs Nat, his best friend.

Asher has been a couple of days with the kids when Nat arrives; he is a complete mess and in need of a shower! The story unfolds with troublesome grandparents of the kids, a Judge with a history with Asher, and a fib. Keeping secrets in a small town is not easy. What if it is not a secret? Will Nat stay in Havenbrook?

I received an advanced copy from the Author; this is my voluntary review.
Profile Image for Lisa.
2,058 reviews13 followers
June 25, 2021
Rating: 4.5*

I have loved this series of small town romances and the five sisters falling one by one. Here we have Natalie, the youngest. As soon as she could she escaped Havenbrook and developed a successful career as photographer that has taken her all over the world.

Asher has been best friends with Natalie for a long time. His music career is just taking off when tragedy strikes and he has to return home to Havenbrook. When he needs support and help, Nat drops everything to be by his side and help him. But he needs more from her. He needs her to marry him in a fake marriage. She never lets him down.

These two have wanderlust, never really settling but when the situation needs them to remain in the same place for an undetermined amount of time, they willingly give it up. I can completely understand why Nat couldn't wait to get out of town with a dad like hers. This has been a common theme with all the sisters. These two made sense together right from the get go, so when they are forced into close quarters the chemistry starts to heat up. This was a sweet and spicy read that made my heart sing.

***Reviewed for LBM Book Blog***
Profile Image for Karen_Lee_Reads.
976 reviews29 followers
June 16, 2021
Small Town Pretender
(Havenbrook #5)
Written by: Brighton Walsh

What would you do when your best friend since Grade 1 called you in the middle of the night, devastated and needing you? Nat (Natalie) Haven without a second thought threw her clothes in a suitcase and headed back to her home town of Havenbrook because Asher needed her. Never mind she rarely went back home, that’s what you do for a best friend in need.

Boy did Asher McCoy need help! Not only is he grieving the loss of his sister and brother-in-law, he was now temporary guardian of 4 year old June and 8 month old Owen.

Of course he had support, Nash, Rory and the rest of the whole Haven family, but he needed his best friend. There were so many things he needed but the one thing he knew he needed was to keep his niece and nephew with him, to raise them and nurture them. It was the one thing his sister had always asked of him. Who expects it will ever happen. He also knew the only way he could get through the small storm around him was with Nat’s support.

I loved this story! The first thing that caught me was this wonderful best friendship between Nat, Ash and Nash, friends who would do anything and had done a great many things for each other since they were kids. I loved how Ash and Nat took on these two little tykes and rolled with the punches. I loved how the story unfolded through the emotions Ash and Nat were dealing with. It was a low angst story with lots of learning, a bit of fibbing and a lot of loving.

I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to make sure I go back to Book 1 in the Havenbrook series and get to know these wonderful characters.
Profile Image for Susan (susayq ~).
2,076 reviews121 followers
June 17, 2021
4.5 stars!

I loved this! Nat and Asher went together so seamlessly. I guess that is what happens when you go from being best friends to being married. There were moments that brought me to tears, but I finished this with a HUGE smile on my face.

I'll just add that I have not read any of the other books in this series and was not lost. When looking to add the previous books to my Kindle, I realized I already own them LOL I will be reading them sooner rather than later :)
Profile Image for Laura Fabian.
328 reviews23 followers
June 21, 2021
This is my first Brighton Walsh book and it has been an amazing, moving story with characters that I have really enjoyed reading, I will definitely read the rest of the books, because more than one character has me intrigued.

Asher is the man in this story, he’s a rising musician who has left his hometown to seek success, however, a sudden tragedy makes him return to take care of his niece & nephew. He was a character that I fell in love with from the beginning, is playful, a little cocky, funny and has a great love for his family and his best friends Nash and Nat, from the first moment is clearly that Ash is willing to do anything to keep Owen and June safe and with him, even to fake a marriage and relationship with Nat. What I enjoy most about him is how much he cares about the important people in her life, the moments he shares with little Owen, his desire to help June feel better, and the fierce way he defends Nat.

For her part, Nat is a girl who has also chosen to leave Havenbrook, like her best friend, to pursue her dream of being a photographer, and to escape the expectations of her family, she has a similar personality to Asher, but much funnier, sarcastic, unpredictable and a free soul, without a doubt, my favorite of the main characters. Unlike Asher, Nat has a complicated relationship with her family, mainly her father and her sister Rory. I think Nat is the character that grows the most throughout the book, because as he spends time with Asher, Owen and June, his opinion of Havenbrook changes and she begins to feel more at home, also she realizes that his family is not so bad most of the time and his attitude towards life changes completely. Another thing that I loved was her friendship with Asher and Nash, I think they are very funny together and I had a great time reading her memories and crazy things from her youth.

Nat & Asher have an unconditional love and special bond since they are friends, they have known each other for more than 20 years and I think that is one of the main reasons why their relationship works so well, it is true that Nash has always been part of the group, but when they begin to live together, share space, and bed, it’s evident that between them are another type of chemistry that cannot be hidden, the sexual tension and the game of seduction in which they both participate is something incredible that I enjoy reading very much. It was also beautiful to read how little by little they are starting a family and both Nat and Asher want the best for Owen & June, and they’re willing to protect and love them, the family moments that the four share are super fun, especially when none of the Adults know what to do, or when they are both completely adorable showing their feelings for the little ones. But although things between Ash & Nat are quite simple, the change in their relationship is not, when sex and unconfessed feelings of both everything gets complicated, the fake marriage begins to seem VERY real, both make bad decisions and hide things from each other, and then the friendship of a lifetime is in danger, but also they hearts, but not everything is suffering, because these two know very well how to be adorable, kind and careful with each other.

And as I said at the beginning, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books because I have fallen in love with these characters, especially Nash, and I want to know the love story of each of the Haven sisters.

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Este es mi primer libro de Brighton Walsh y de la serie Havenbrook y ha sido una historia increíble, conmovedora y con personajes que he disfrutado mucho leer, definitivamente voy a leer el resto de los libros, porque más de un personaje me tiene intrigada.

Asher es el chico de esta historia, es un músico en ascenso que ha dejado su pueblo natal para buscar el éxito, sin embargo, una tragedia repentina lo hace volver para hacerse cargo de sus sobrinos. Él fue un personaje que me enamoro desde el inicio, es juguetón, un poco engreído, divertido y tiene un gran amor hacia su familia y sus mejores amigos Nash y Nat, desde el primer momento es evidente que Ash está dispuesto a cualquier cosa para mantener a Owen y June a salvo y con él, incluso a fingir un matrimonio y relación con Nat. Lo que más disfrute sobre él es lo mucho que se preocupa por las personas importantes en su vida, los momentos que comparte con el pequeño Owen, sus ganas de ayudar a que June se sienta mejor y la feroz manera en la que defiende a Nat.

Por su parte Nat es una chica que también a elegido dejar Havenbrook, al igual que su mejor amigo, para perseguir su sueño de ser fotógrafa, y escapar de las expectativas de su familia, ella tiene una personalidad similar a la de Asher, pero mucho más divertida, sarcástica, impredecible y un alma libre, sin lugar a dudas, mi favorita de los personajes principales. A diferencia de Asher, Nat tiene una relación complicada con su familia, principalmente con su papá y su hermana Rory. Creo que Nat es el personaje que más crece a lo largo del libro, pues a medida que va pasando tiempo con Asher, Owen y June su opinión sobre Havenbrook va cambiando y comienza a sentirse más en casa, además, se va dando cuenta de que su familia no es tan mala, la mayoría de las veces y su actitud hacía la vida cambia por completo. Otra cosa que me encantó fue su amistad con Asher y Nash, creo que juntos son muy divertidos y la pase muy bien leyendo sus recuerdos y locuras de juventud.

Nat & Asher tienen un amor incondicional y vinculo especial desde que son amigos, se han conocido por más de 20 años y creo que esa es una de las principales razones para que su relación funcione tan bien, es cierto que Nash siempre ha sido parte del grupo, pero cuando comienzan a vivir juntos, compartir espacio, y cama, es evidente qué entre ellos hay otro tipo de química que no se puede esconder, la tensión sexual y el juego de seducción en el que ambos participan es algo increíble que disfrute mucho leyendo. También fue hermoso leer como poco a poco van formando una familia y tanto Nat como Asher quieren lo mejor para Owen & June están dispuestos a protegerlos y amarlos, los momentos familiares que comparten los cuatro son súper divertidos, principalmente cuando ningún de los adultos sabe que hacer, o cuando ambos son completamente adorables al demostrar sus sentimientos por los pequeños. Pero aunque las cosas entre Ash & Nat son bastante simples, el cambió en su relación no lo es, cuando interviene el sexo y los sentimientos sin confesar de ambos todo se complica, el matrimonio falso comienza a parecer MUY real, ambos toman malas desiciones y esconden cosas, y entonces la amistad de toda una vida esta en peligro, pero también el corazón de ambos, pero no todo es sufrimiento, porque estos dos saben muy bien como ser adorables, amables y cuidadosos con el otro.

Y como ya dije al inicio, estoy deseando leer el resto de los libros porque estos personajes me han enamorado, especialmente Nash, y quiero conocer la historia de amor de cada una de las hermanas Haven.

ARC recibida a cambio de una reseña honesta
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews702 followers
August 31, 2021
I’ve been waiting for Nat and Asher’s book since they first graced the page and I have to say: it was worth the wait.

I’ve always loved these two. She’s stubborn and independent. He’s charming and loyal. Together they have an amazing friendship and history. I love love loved reading their back and forth mixture of “wtf is this chemistry” to “omfg I’m in love”. Of course it was awesome seeing all of the previous sisters and gran.

Plot wise, it was good. While there was the thread of story that pertained to the custody battle, this story was firmly about Nat and Asher and feeeeeeeeeelings. And I was here for all of it.

Overall, I’m sad this series is over, but as always, Brighton delivered another fantastic set of books and I can’t wait to see what’s next for her.

**Huge thanks to the publisher for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Teresa Mary Rose.
1,121 reviews354 followers
June 29, 2021
Brighton Walsh never lets me down! I have loved spending time in Havenbrook and I’m really going to miss all of these characters. We have been building to Nat’s book for a while and it definitely delivered.

Nat and Asher were both so great and their chemistry was off the charts. Friends to lovers is a favorite trope of mine and I do so love a good fake romance and this combined both of those tropes so well. I love how effortlessly Nat and Asher fit together even with all the chaos and upheaval around them. Both of them are thrust into an unthinkable situation and they get through it by leaning on one another. This one broke my heart in parts and at one point there were tears, but it was also such a sweet read.

Also, I need to take a moment to appreciate Gran because I love her to bits. She is such fun. I also love all the banter and little moments between the four sisters. The different sibling dynamics all feel so authentic. And I must take a moment to appreciate Nash because he is the true MVP of this book and I truly appreciated him for saying all the things I wanted to say to Nat and Asher but couldn’t because ya know… they’re not real.

All in all, Small Town Pretender was another great addition to the Havenbrook series. This has been such a good series and I’ve loved this small town with these feisty sisters and swoonworthy guys and I’m going to miss them.
Profile Image for Jenn M..
391 reviews5 followers
June 14, 2021
"I didn't come for Havenbrook. I came for you."

Small Town Pretender is the fifth book in Brighton Walsh's Havenbrook series. The story can be enjoyed as a complete stand alone, but personally I like to read a complete series as there tend to be references to the other books intertwined into the story. Small Town pretender is also written in the third person POV- so if you are not used to that style of writing it does take a little time to get used to.

Asher McCoy is on the brink of landing a record deal when he suddenly finds himself the temporary guardian of his young niece and nephew. Life threw the curveball and now his priority is to make sure June and Owen stay with him- and the best way to do it, fake marry his best friend Nat. Natalie Haven has always had a heart of wanderlust. Havenbrook was too small and too constricting for her- so a life of adventure and spontaneity as a freelance photographer was perfect. But when Asher needs her she is there- even if it brings her back to the small town she had worked hard to escape from. The lines of their friendship are blurred and feelings have grown- will Nat still be able to walk away when it's all over? Or will she finally want to stay?

I tend to read books that are written in alternating first person POV, so it took me a few chapters to really get into the rhythm of the story. But Brighton Walsh had done such a great job of setting the scene and creating interest in the story that once I found that rhythm I couldn't put the book down. Small Town Pretender is a perfect balance of sweet, funny and just enough heat. Asher and Nat's friendship was already so loving- they had obviously been a safe haven for each other most of their lives. So the transition of shifting those feelings to something more than just platonic felt natural and easy. I love how neither of them really had any experience or knowledge of how to handle a 4 year old and an 8 month old but they stepped up without hesitation anyway. My heart swooned for Asher, not only for the way he was with the kids but how he always treated Nattie. Such a great addition to the Havenbrook series!
Profile Image for Angela.
791 reviews38 followers
July 1, 2021
Ahhh! I love this series. It’s one of the few that take place in the South that I feel captures the south at it’s best - and I love this cast of characters so much.

I can’t pick a favorite from the quintet, but this was fantastic.
Profile Image for Kait Nolan.
Author 87 books1,057 followers
August 18, 2021
A fantastic wrap up to the Havenbrook series, full of some of my favorite things--friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, hilarious kids. It was a heck of a lot of fun seeing the youngest Haven daughter make her way home and find adventure where she never expected it. Two thumbs up!
Profile Image for Sharon Moritz-rosenthal.
1,927 reviews17 followers
June 24, 2021
This is my first time reading this author and wow I have been missing out. This was a really well written story about two childhood bestfriends who through a huge loss end up having to get married to keep custody of two young children. It was sweet, romantic, and heartfelt and I even cried some tears while reading this story.

This is #5 in the series and as mentioned I have not read any of the other books in the series. But I was told this was a stand alone and so thats how I looked at it when I started this book. In the first few chapters I honestly was a bit lost. There were lots of names, characters, who was married to who and whose kids each one had we a bit confusing. I think a family tree would have been very helpful in the beginning of the book so I could get a clear picture since I had not read any of the previous books. But that said once I figured out who was who and what was important, I understood their relationships and could fully enjoy reading this story.

This is a story about two people who grew up in Havenbrook, a very small town with limited opportunities. Nat, Nash and Asher were best of friends but both Ash and Nat wanted out of the small town as soon as they could. They both have family in town but they do it only in spurts as the town gets too much to them.

Ash is in Nashville when he gets a call that changes his life forever. He is a musician about to sign a contract when he has to go back to Havenbrook. Needing support he calls his best friend, Nat and asks her to come because he needs her to be there for him. She is on a photo shoot and she drops everything for Ash as he is her person.

When they get to town they have two children that need them desperately but with a custody battle in their future Ash asks Nat to pretend marry him for the kids. Thats when these two have to face the feelings they really have for each other.

This story had heat, romance, a fake marriage, two adorable kids, close family and best friends in a small town and I adored every second of this story.

I received a complimentary early release copy of this e-book from the author prior to release and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Alphas Do It Better Book Blog .
3,091 reviews84 followers
June 24, 2021
5 Stars


Who knew one word could have the power to change two people’s lives forever? That one word, one promise to help in any situation that may exist, would lead to a future full of happiness, desire and love.

When Asher is called home for tragic circumstances, his first call is to his best friend, even though she is halfway around the world. Becoming a father wasn’t something Asher pictured in his future yet, but he has no doubt raising his niece and nephew is what he needs, and wants, to do. When he realizes the cards might be stacked against him he does the one thing he has never done before, or thought he would need to do, he sends Nat, the woman he has always been able to count on, a text with one word. At that moment he knows neither one of their lives will ever be the same, but he also knows there is no one else in the world he can trust and depend on the way he can with Nat.

Nat doesn’t miss Havenbrook, she ran as soon as she turned 18 and never looked back. She has begun visiting a bit more often in recent months but she is meant to travel the world. Staying in one place has never been what she wanted out of life. When her best friend, a man she knows better than almost anybody else in the world is breaking down, racing home is the only option.
As she arrives home to offer any and all support to Asher and the kids, she receives a text she never expected. She also knows there is only one response to whatever it is Asher needs...Yes.

As Asher and Nat embark on a journey from best friends, to “husband and wife,” they discover things they never knew about themselves and realize no one in the world knows either one of them as well as the person they married. Readers will be completely engrossed in the path this entire family travels to find their way to a new future for them all, together. This story is full of love, laughter, vulnerability and passion. Just as Asher and Nat will never be the same by the end of this story, neither will the readers.

Cara - Alphas Do It Better Book Blog
Profile Image for Becky.
2,968 reviews121 followers
June 25, 2021
Friends-to-lovers/fake marriage of convenience/instant family story? Sign me up!

Small Town Pretender absolutely did not disappoint! I loved Nat and Asher's (and June's and Owen's) story so much, and not just because Nat's nickname for Asher's niece is from one of my favorite kids' series of all time. (Yep, I'm one of those librarians who has to try really hard not to scare small children with her enthusiasm when they check out her favorite books.) Their we're-just-doing-this-for-the-kids-oh-there's-only-one-bed-we-got-this-story was just so much fun to read. I definitely don't miss those days when the baby wakes up soaked, but they may have made a teensy bit nostalgic for them...

Just as much as Nat and Asher's slow-ish slide into love and being a family, I adored the way that Nat fit back into the family and town that she'd been so eager to leave six years earlier. And though their black moment did hinge quite a bit on non-communication, usually a pet peeve of mine, Ms Walsh made it work with their characters without being annoying *and* brought them back together in the best way possible.

Though Nat's the last of her sisters to get an HEA, Small Town Pretender worked just fine as a standalone. All of her sisters' books are on my TBR (book 4, Captain Heartbreaker is free right now!) and I'm now more anxious than ever to get to them ASAP!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Profile Image for Flavs is Mrs David Gandy♥~♥’.
2,873 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2021
4.50 Stars

Nat left home as soon as she could to pursue her dreams of photography. She just couldn’t get away quick enough from the small town. But when her best friend Asher needs her to come home as he lost his sister and he is now in charge of two kids with no clue what to do.

Asher is a musician who is on the verge of his big break, but then he needed to come home when his sister died and on top of that she left him as the guardian to his 4year old niece and his 8 month old nephew. And on top of that he just blurted out to the judge that he is engaged to be married. And who better to be his intended that his best friend who is always there for him. Now he just need to convince her to stay in a town she did everything to run away from…

Loved this story. I loved Asher. He didn’t even think anything of it to take responsibility for his sisters kids. He just jumped in and did what he needed to. I loved the friendship that Asher and Nat had. They were so easy and comfortable with each other. I loved that their relationship started with friendship and then because of their circumstances they found something even better 😊 I love the second chance small town romances it gives you such a good feeling when you get to the end. It makes you believe in fairytales and love and living happily ever after 😊♥

Read on behalf of
Fay’s Corner
Profile Image for TLynn.
1,244 reviews12 followers
June 28, 2021
Small Town Pretender is the fifth book in the Havenbrook series. It was a new-to-me author, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. The story was heart-warming and beautifully written. I really enjoy reading books with a friend to lover troupes and seeing the main character’s relationship slowly change while dealing with their grief was touching. They were real-life, easy to connect with, and charming. My heart went out to Asher because he had to deal with his own grief and the sudden responsibility of his niece and nephew. Natalie “Nat” was a wandering photographer and hated returning to her hometown of Havenbrook. When Asher called her with news of his sister’s death, she didn’t hesitate to go home for her best friend. There was such a strong bond between Asher and Nat and they were perfect for each other. Together they tackled every challenge that came their way and found a life that would fit them. This was a tear-jerker but also inspirational to see them succeed while grieving. I am so glad I discovered this author and I look forward to reading the previous and future books by the author.
I received an ARC and am voluntarily leaving a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Melena.
2,471 reviews51 followers
June 24, 2021
Brighton Walsh takes readers back to Havenbrook with Small Town Pretender! I really love this series and this was a great read.

Nat and Asher's friendship was so wonderful, and I loved how she stepped up to help him. I was curious how their relationship would grow from close friends to falling in love with Asher's niece and nephew and a marriage of convenience involved. Their relationship and the story as a whole were both nicely paced. I grew to like both Nat and Asher quite a bit and they became two of my favorite characters in Havenbrook. This small-town romance had a nice balance of emotion, drama, and romance.

It was also nice to see other characters from previous books in the series and to find out what has been happening with them. I really hope there will be more Havenbrook in the future, but I will read whatever Brighton Walsh writes!

Thank you to the author for providing an ARC for an honest review.
Profile Image for Wendy Livingstone.
13.8k reviews131 followers
June 25, 2021
This is the 5th book in this series and is Asher and Natalie’s story. These two are best friends, and Natalie could not leave their small town fast enough to follow her dream career, and Asher is a musician. When tragedy strikes and Asher’s sister and brother-in-law are killed, he is left with his little niece and nephew, but he needs to convince a judge about him having custody, rather than their evil grandparents, so he comes up with the idea of a fake marriage, and who better that his bestie Nat. Natalie is a freelance photographer and when Asher reaches out for help, she does not hesitate to return home. This is a well written story which is sweet, and is heartfelt, with emotions, grief, family, humor, and love, which all leads to an entertaining and addictive page turner. I look forward to reading more from this talented author whose work I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Stital.
835 reviews18 followers
June 10, 2021
Sweet, steamy and so utterly swoony, Small Town Pretender is the best kind of small town, friends-to-lovers romance and the perfect culmination to the Havenbrook series.

Nat was always my favorite of the Haven girls, and her and Asher together were just everything I could have ever wanted. Their perfect synchronicity and no holds bared support for each other, building over decades of friendship made their whirlwind romance feel real and not forced, with a special kind of magic drifting from the pages.

Brighton's ability to invoke all my emotions has yet again took center stage, with many tears shed, sighs expelled and laughter escaping my heart. A great addition, to a wonderful series, and a must read to any romance lover.

5 stars and a downpour
Profile Image for Reading  In the  Red Room .
1,508 reviews36 followers
June 13, 2021
Asher is a musician doing his thing until he gets a phone call saying he has lost his sister and her husband. Having to take over raising his niece and nephew he does the only thing he knows to do he calls his best friend. When world traveling photographer Natalie gets a call from her best friend asking her to come home she flies home to do anything he needs her to do. When a marriage of convenience is needed to keep the kids these two best friends jump at the opportunity to do so. This is quick read and a story of best friends turning into a sweet family. Friends going above and beyond for each other and finding out what has been in front of them this entire time. I would definitely read more books by this author and look forward to doing so.
Profile Image for United Indie Book Blog.
4,257 reviews78 followers
July 3, 2021
Great Read! I've volunteered to review this book for United Indie book Blog. This author is new to me. Small Town Pretender is the fifth book in the Havenbrook series. This is Nat and Asher's story. They were childhood friends and living in a small town of Havenbrook. I love how Nat and Asher fit together even with all the chaos around them. Nat and Asher were both so great and their chemistry was off the charts. When her best friend Asher calls and needs her, she returns without hesitation. So, what started out to be a fake marriage, turned out to be something more. If you love to read about friends to lover's romance. Then this is the one for you. Keep up the awesome work. I will have to go back and read the first four books in this series.

Profile Image for Chantelle Bouffanie.
1,164 reviews7 followers
July 4, 2021
Great Read! I've volunteered to review this book for United Indie book Blog. This author is new to me. Small Town Pretender is the fifth book in the Havenbrook series. This is Nat and Asher's story. They were childhood friends and living in a small town of Havenbrook. I love how Nat and Asher fit together even with all the chaos around them. Nat and Asher were both so great and their chemistry was off the charts. When her best friend Asher calls and needs her, she returns without hesitation. So, what started out to be a fake marriage, turned out to be something more. If you love to read about friends to lover's romance. Then this is the one for you. Keep up the awesome work. I will have to go back and read the first four books in this series.
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