29 August 2013

Book Review: Playing Grace by Hazel Osmond

"Grace Surtees has everything carefully under control – her work life, her home life and her love life – especially her love life.

But then her boss hires Tate Saunders, a brash American, to spice up the gallery tours his company provides. Messy and fond of breaking rules, Tate explodes into her tidy existence like a paintball, and Grace hates everything about him…

…doesn’t she?

Because, for Grace, the alternative would be simply too terrifying to contemplate: to love Tate rather than hate him would mean leaping out of her comfort zone, and Grace’s devotion to order hides some long-kept secrets… secrets she’s sure someone like Tate Saunders could never accept or understand."

Rating: 2.5/5

You can buy Playing Grace as a paperback or an eBook now.

I have read both of Hazel Osmond's previous novels, and really enjoyed them. It's always fun to read a new author, especially when you enjoy their books and can therefore look forward to their next releases. When a review copy of Hazel's new book Playing Grace arrived, I was really looking forward to it. I was a little cautious because it's based around art tours, and galleries, something I know nothing about at all, but I hoped that the book would introduce me to these things in a nice way, and have me interested. I have to say that while I enjoyed the final third of the book, the rest of it was a struggle for me, and I didn't click with this book as much as I had with Hazel's previous books unfortunately.

Grace has a pretty rigid life, but that is exactly how she likes it. She likes things in order - her job, her art gallery tours, and her flat. But soon, things are about to head into disarray and Grace isn't sure she can cope. Her boss Alistair hires a new tour guide, an American called Tate who Grace immediately clashes with. The pair butt heads over everything, and Grace is sure that she hates Tate. When there is more drama at home, Grace begins to wonder if her perfectly ordered world is about to come crashing down around her. Will she be able to juggle her job, her home life and keep herself sane in the process? And just what is Grace going to about the awful Tate and those pesky feelings of hers?

I'll be honest and say that I did nearly give up on this book. I found the start of it to be incredibly slow and nothing was there to pull me in and make me want to read on. I didn't like Grace very much, she seemed quite odd to me and there was nothing majorly likeable about her if I am honest. I ploughed on regardless, simply because I hoped that it would get better and turn into something I would enjoy reading. However, around 200 pages in, I was still struggling and nothing had really happened. In fact, that goes for the whole book to be honest. I just felt like it wasn't going anywhere, I was constantly waiting for something exciting to happen, and despite a couple of things that occur, there was nothing there to keep me riveted. I did have to push myself to pick it up at times, and that's never a good sign with me.

As I mentioned, I didn't particularly like Grace as the main character and I think that made me struggle with connecting with the book. On the other hand, I did love a couple of the other supporting characters who I thought were fantastic. I really liked Gilbert, one of the other tour guides who lives with his troubled sister Violet. Their story was quite sweet, and I was just waiting for Gilbert to let his hair down somewhat. Their boss Alistair was great too, and I liked the story around him. It was a surprise when his secrets were revealed, I certainly didn't guess it at all and I liked that this part of it was unpredictable. Tate was a bit of a strange one, he was likeable enough, fun and bubbly but I was just unsure of his intentions all the way through, I just couldn't make up my mind about him and where he fitted in with Grace.

I found that the final third of the book did pick up pace a little bit and I found myself enjoying the story a lot more. Things about Grace become a lot more clear as it goes on, but since Osmond waits right until the end for the big 'tell-all' moment, I found myself losing interest in her story, her obsession with a few paintings and the reasons behind her odd behaviour throughout the story. When it was revealed, it was too late for the characters to do anything with the revelations so it seemed a wasted opportunity to me. Art isn't a big interest to me, but Osmond did a good job of describing the galleries, the paintings and the atmosphere, but it didn't hold my attention as I had hoped, I guess you can't help it when you just aren't interested in a topic.

It's a shame for me that this book didn't live up to my expectations, because it seems other reviewers have enjoyed it. However, for me it was too slow paced, with too little going on and I found that I got bored with it in parts. I didn't like the main character, the narrative did tend to go on a little too much for me in places, and while I liked the final part of the book, it seemed too little, too late for me. I hope Hazel Osmond's next book will be back to her best like her first two novels that I loved.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry the book didn't hit the spot for you this time, but thank you very much for taking the time to read it and for the considered review.

    Hazel Osmond (not anonymous, just failed to make the URL thing work!)