Sunday 1 June 2014

Review ~ Unsticky by Sarra Manning

Reviewed by Donna ~ 5 Stars

“We're broken. It's like we have all these jagged edges that scare other people off, but when we're with each other, our jagged edges fit together and we're almost whole.”

This book was released in 2009, how it has never come across my radar until now, I don’t understand but once I had started this book I could not put it down, all 562 pages of it. Yes it is a long book, but it didn’t feel that way at all, the words flowed, the story developed, the characters embedded themselves into my heart and the rest is history.

This is a typically English book, based in England and the prose is most definitely English, this made a change from those books that are predominantly written for an American audience. This meant that as I am English, I could relate to so much more contained in this book, the English humour, wit and banter kept me emotionally invested throughout and most importantly kept those pages turning.

Grace is 23, a compulsive shopper and works in fashion for a magazine. She lives well beyond her means using shopping for “pretties” as her therapy. Her need for “therapy” ramps up a notch when on her birthday her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her in the middle of the handbag section in a large department store, not taking this latest knock back very well, she creates a scene, so he storms out. With the tears flowing she is whisked up by a knight in shining armour who takes her out of the store and sits her down for a drink. Will she ever be able to make it past the three month mark in her relationships? It just seems that men can only stomach her for three months at a time, this dumping being the latest conforming to what seems her three month limit. All she wants is a proper relationship to be loved, wanted and needed. Suddenly realising that she is sitting down with a complete and utter stranger she panics and hightails it away, but will this be the last she sees of him?

“That was the way it had always been. Friends and lovers came and went because there was something about her which repelled the, and she didn’t have a clue what it was.”

Vaughn, said knight in shining armour (or is he?) is 41, older and wiser and a man of the world but extremely emotionally stunted. He is a highly successful art dealer, who has turned himself away from the female form. He has “relationships” but these are purely business related and never extend for more than six months at a time. He sees something in Grace and this leads him to proposition her with one of his “six monthly” contracts. These contracts are as I said before, purely business motivated, he needs arm candy for functions, a hostess for dinner parties and art gatherings and in return, he pays them handsomely.

With spiralling debt and debt collectors constant chomping at her heels, after her initial repulsion at the idea, Grace suddenly becomes to see its benefits, after all is it only six months…or is it?

“Nothing lasted. Especially the good stuff. All you were left with were memories, and even they crumbled and faded over time.”

The thing I loved most about this book was how “real” the characters were. Even though it wasn’t pretty at times, their strengths and weaknesses were played upon throughout this book. Grace was extremely naïve, has very little self-confidence but has a heart of gold and always spoke her mind. She could be extremely frustrating and annoying at times but as the book progressed you saw her slowly change before your very eyes. Vaughn gave her confidence so he had a big part to play in her growth and she was actually changing for the better.

Vaughn was such a complex character, it was obvious he had been hurt in the past and he was not going to open himself up for that kind of pain again, hence the need for these “arrangements,” but as much as Grace needed him, as the relationship progressed it became apparent that Vaughn needed her just as much. Maybe it was the age difference, but Grace enlightened him on so many things and you slowly saw Vaughn relax and the “real” Vaughn eventually shows up. He too has a heart of gold, despite his tenacious attitude and his relentlessness in the strive for perfection not only in business but in his personal life too.

This was an emotional journey, not in a tear jerker kind of way, but just this book made me “feel,” I felt for Grace and I felt for Vaughn, their ups and downs became my ups and downs, I lived it a breathed it and it was exhausting! I was rooting for these two throughout and despite the mistakes they make, it just showed how true to life it was. Nothing ever runs smooth and it takes time to see the wood for the trees, no matter what “label” you put on it; it was obvious that these two loved each other, but when would they both recognise it? Or more importantly, would they recognise it at all? Littered with humour this book will also have you laughing out loud many time and it is this constant mix of angst and humour that makes it a flowing, beautiful read.

“Don’t know about you, but I was so sick of feeling lost.”

My only gripe about this book, is that it ended too quick…I wanted more, yes I am greedy, it has been said before, but I just felt that their story is far from over, in fact it is just beginning, I truly feel that Vaughn and Grace need revisiting and I hope that Sarra Manning is reading this!!

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