It was a statement, not a question, and Grace wished that she had the self-respect to tell Vaughn that he could stuff his flat and his credit card and his pieces of art.
Meet Grace, our 23 year old passive-aggressive, wet blanket, pushover yet incredibly self-aware heroine. Grace has many problems. Whether it'd be her shopping addiction, which makes Rebecca Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series look like a sensible woman, or her shitty job that barely pays the rent, with the boss that makes it her life goal to decimate Grace's microscopic self-esteem, or her inability to simply stand up for herself in the face of… well… anyone. She allowed everyone from her boss to her best friend to her grandmother to even the porter shit on her repeatedly without so much as a meep.
10% into the book I knew I was going to need copious amounts of self-restraint to not hurl my kindle across the room. I don't know about you, but I need to at the very least tolerate the heroine I am spending time with.
She did seethe inwardly and threw death glares every now and then which totally counts, right? And just because she's aware she has no self-respect it totally makes it ok for her best friend to call her a prostitute or her grandmother to force her to meet her estranged mother even after Grace had said no, right?
Then again, that would've gotten in the way of Grace's two states of being: victim and hysterical.
If you're going to read this book (which I suggest you don't unless you're a sucker for punishment), be sure to read it with a spork in hand. You can use it to poke your eyeballs out or poke Grace until you can unearth her backbone. Assuming she was even born with one.
But if you're already cringing at the thought of spending 562 pages with this stellar heroine, wait until you meet our hero, Vaugh.
I mean who couldn't love a guy that speaks such charming, loving words like these?
'But I saw that moment when the realisation hit them that all the presents and the parties didn't go far enough to compensate for having to put up with me. Obviously, I miscalculated what an incentive my money would be to a girl like you.'
Mind you, that was 99% in.
Vaughn is our controlling, manipulative, emotionally abusive, mentally unstable, rich, older hero. Vaughn is an art dealer and he's very accustomed to having things his way and not have anyone go against him. He's also not well-versed in saying "thank you" or "I'm sorry", because such words are beneath him. He treats his employees like crap, threatening to sack them almost on a weekly basis. Alas, we need to forgive him because obviously Vaughn has some serious daddy issues which are not explained very well.
You want to know how seriously fucked up he is? He makes Grace not attend her best friend's wedding so she can entertain his guests in Whistler. Grace got sick in the middle of the holiday and he injected her with an adrenaline shot so she would have some "pep" in her step.
This is a guy who lives by the words "throw money at the problem" and then has a fit because he suspects Grace might only want him for his money. This is after he hires her to be his mistress so she can act as his other half/hostess/enticing treat to Young British Artists.
Their relationship (or contractual agreement) is fucked up.
'I don't trust anyone,' he said simply. 'Especially not myself. And do you trust me? Really?'
And she never did. Not once in the entire book did he trust her or did she trust him. Not even at the end.
She basically does everything he wants and when she tries to complain, he tells her to not be so difficult. Oh and whenever she does something to his liking, he rewards her with a "good girl".
*stabs self with the spork*
Their sex scenes left me feeling dirty. Vaughn's total domination took over the bedroom as well. He had this amazing ability to be a major asshole one minute and the next he was kissing her neck and trying to cop a feel which jarred me. She never called him out on it, just pouted and then turned to mush.
Though I will say, his only saving point was making it his mission to give her orgasms. This was after he realized he was a selfish bastard that worried exclusively about his happy ending and she never got hers.
The biggest SERIOUSLY? was the end. Ms. Manning solved (and I use this word loosely) everything in the last chapter while basically letting us know that these two hadn't grown much (or in Vaughn's case NOT AT ALL) during those 562 pages. Even if Grace manage to acquire a baby-sized backbone when it came to her job, it didn't reflect at all in her relationship with Vaughn.
There were times I did laugh out loud so that's why I gave it the one star. It didn't happen as often as I would've liked.
Only good thing about this book is that I read it for free thanks to Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library.