Ever since I’ve read Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe? by Hazel Osmond, I decided to never want to miss any of her succeeding books. There came The First Time I Saw Your Face and now it’s Playing Grace. I bought this copy from The Book Depository.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
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…
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.
The striking synopsis definitely adds to the mysterious characterization of Grace. From the moment I began reading, I would never have doubted her. Hazel Osmond’s portrayal of Grace comes out as someone who is reliable and trustworthy. Her organizational skills and control are also exceptional. Moreover, her enthusiasm towards the traditional arts is evident, but what catches my attention most is her attachment to an icon in the gallery. Everything falls right where Grace wants things to be, but here comes Tate to practically ruin everything for her. Who knew that the Grace we’ve come to know is just a façade – concealing the real person she is deep inside.
With the help of Tate’s persistence, sneakiness, openness, and stubbornness, Grace slowly reveals her true self unexpectedly. The growing chemistry is something not to be ignored that easily as readers could immediately see this beyond the prevalent arguments going on between the two characters. I’m actually impressed with their characterizations and the process of how Hazel Osmond shows their real personalities in relation to the development of the storyline. The revelations toward the end are quite a surprise and catch me off guard. The questions that emerge during the span of my reading are gladly answered.
But it’s not just about Grace and Tate’s stories that had me entertained. Hazel Osmond manages to capture the essence of the other characters as well. These complicated characters significantly contribute to the complex story. They are imperfect and flawed, which makes the book more realistic to read. The characters I encountered in this book are not those that I often see in other books. Plus, utilizing the switching points of views of characters helps in getting to know them better, instead of being misunderstood. What’s more surprising is the wrong impression I thought was true throughout the story.
Playing Grace offers a more different narration from Hazel Osmond’s previous books. It explores the world of art ranging from traditional to modern. I may not be an avid fan of art, but as a frustrated painter, I find myself still at awe with Hazel Osmond’s expertise in that aspect. Her detailed descriptions about the arts affirm Grace’s passion towards them. Readers will be able to witness how some paintings eventually connect to Grace’s life. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but not as much as I expected to. Somehow, it lacks the connection I would have wanted with the characters. Story wise, Playing Grace is a unique, complicated story. Just like a painting, there’s more to it than what is being shown.