Author: Shelle Sumners
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Publication date: October 30th 2012
My rating: 4.5 stars
Grace Barnum’s life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that, she fears, may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney who is steady and reliable. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mom slightly drunk.
Always a planner, Grace feels prepared for most eventualities. Until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up. Fresh in town from the Poconos, Tyler has warm eyes, a country drawl, and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes devastating songs. About her.
Tyler reaches something in Grace, something she needs, but can't admit to. Something she wants, but won't succumb to. Tyler Wilkie loves Grace Barnum and ruins everything. And Grace grows.
Oh, the heartache! The swoony, achy feel this story gave me! I felt LOVESICK over a freaking book!! I couldn’t stop reading. I was so bowled over with angsty feelings and I just had to know how it ended. This was another one of those books that I read long into the night. I peeked at the clock at my bedside after I finished and it was 5:30 IN THE MORNING! Even when I closed the book and my eyes I still couldn’t fall asleep because the scenes kept replaying over and over again in my head.
This story begins with the quote:
“How Tyler Wilkie wrecked my life..”
The Grace we first meet firmly believes this statement.
Twenty-seven year old Grace is at point in her life where she thinks everything is on track and how it should be. She has a job editing educational textbooks. She’s been living with her steady boyfriend for more than half a year. He’s ten years older and a successful patent attorney. They have a comfortable relationship, nothing too exciting, and plan on getting engaged when they’ve lived together for one year. Everything is figured out and well-ordered. Or so it seems.
On closer inspection, Grace’s “dream” editing job is not so much. She’s often tasked with removing bits that are deemed offensive, questionable, or controversial. The mention of condoms in a sex education text book must be removed. In a story, fruit salad is substituted for ice cream, because you wouldn’t want to encourage unhealthy eating. Then the ratio of male and female must be even for equality sake.
These kinds of changes are slowly chipping away at Grace’s soul, but she plods along and doesn’t speak up, in fear for her job.
Then there is her boyfriend. What I noticed from the beginning is the sheer amount of time they spent apart, even when they could be together. In my mind, if you don’t want to spend time with your boyfriend/husband, most of what they do doesn’t appeal to you or what you do doesn’t appeal to them, you’ve got problems. He might tick all the appropriate boxes, like being able to provide a stable and secure future, but if you can’t meet with your passions and mind, someone else will creep in. Guaranteed.
In spite of Grace’s intentions, this is what happens. This is where we meet Tyler Wilkie, and this is where he wrecks her life.
Tyler is twenty-seven, like Grace, but does not have his life ordered AT ALL. He’s come to New York to try his hand a becoming a singer. He definitely has an abundance of talent, but he’s a college drop-out and doesn’t even have health insurance *GASP*! I have to tell you, if I were Grace, I’d be running far, far, away as well! I'm so about responsible! She runs into Tyler outside of her apartment, he’s a dog walker for a neighbor, and they strike up an unlikely friendship. She’s drawn in by Tyler’s outlook on life. He sees things with fresh eyes. He wants more, but she continually pushes him away, and so she should. She’s committed to someone else. I hate cheating books so I was pleased that this wasn’t one of them. This story takes you on their journey with obstacles a plenty, but I loved every single page! There’s a slow change in Grace, and in Tyler, each changing and growing because of each other’s influence. And oh, man, did I fall head-over-heels in love with Tyler Wilkie!!
I found the writing of the story subtle, it didn’t beat you over the head telling you how you should view or think of a character or situation, and you’re left to make your own conclusions. I felt like I made all the same discoveries or revelations at the same time Grace did. There were a few times I did want to slap Grace upside the head and tell her to get a clue, but I could see her point of view. I wanted these two to have their HEA after so many close calls and misses!
Like I said, I couldn’t stop reading this until I knew what happened. I have to give a high rating to a story that claims my attention so absolutely. I’m still haunted and consumed.