This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Grace Surtees enjoys a life of order within her home, personal life and career. Anything messy has no place in her existence and she has worked hard to make it that way. When her boss hires Tate Jefferson, a young American with no respect for personal boundaries, Grace can’t stand him. Grace is determined to make herself as blandly pleasant as possible in response to his almost confrontational approach to trying to get to know her. When Tate continues to initiate a friendship or perhaps more, Grace feels the pressure of keeping her past secret and keeping a man who she is fighting not to like at a distance.
The novel begins with Grace giving a tour of an art gallery and the reader has to work hard to piece together what exactly is happening. I wasn’t overly impressed with the beginning, finding it quite slow. It seemed to take a long time for anything substantial to actually happen. It took a while to feel any kind of warmth for the characters as they are not introduced with any formal description. Instead, the reader has to read between the lines to figure out their circumstances. My first impression of Grace was that she was coldly detached from everything around her. She seemed almost robotic at times.
My understanding of Grace’s character grew as the storyline moved on and I was introduced to other people within her life. The mystery surrounding her ex-boyfriend, a famous painter called Bill Jackson, intrigued me and the suspense continued to build throughout. Her mother and sisters offer some laugh out loud moments with their rather ethereal values and views on life. Tate is unbelievably annoying and I completely understood Grace’s irritation at his behaviour. It didn’t take long for me to soften my opinion of him when his caring side starts to shine through.
The pace soon picks up as more complications are thrown into the mix. Gilbert’s dysfunctional relationship with his mentally ill and possessive sister has caused him to lose his boyfriend and close himself off to future possibilities. Bernice and her unfriendly cousin, Esther, who work in the travel agency beneath Grace’s place of work both have something to reveal. Grace’s boss, Alistair is also hiding a big secret from his wife, Emma, and if she finds out it could mean the end of their marriage.
Add in a few stolen paintings and a father obsessed with being an amateur sleuth and the novel becomes an action-packed read! It is well worth persevering through the slow beginning.
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