I get it, the hero does not want to open his heart chambers for 'love', though his actions say otherwise. The heroine will settle for nothing less thaI get it, the hero does not want to open his heart chambers for 'love', though his actions say otherwise. The heroine will settle for nothing less than his romantic declaration in order to accept his hand of marriage.
It was still tiresome for me as a reader. How many hundreds of books have I read with a similar storyline? My life has no room for uncertainty, no margin for error. I have to keep a clear head, or people get hurt. You’ll get hurt.” His hand encircled her bandaged wrist. “Damn it, you already have.” “What if I told you I know the risks, and I’m willing to take my chances?” “It wouldn’t change a thing. Those walls, as you call them . . . They’re part of me now, and they are iron strong.” He lifted a hand to her face, skimming his thumb over her lower lip. “Even if I wished to, I wouldn’t know how to dismantle them.” 77%
But I digress.
The unexceptional story is saved by a some hilarious scenes, plus following the mystery the heroine is trying to solve was a delight to read (the reveal wasn't shocking though) The book is well worth a read for this if nothing else.
There was only one way she could think of to shake him up, change the rules of his game. No one touches my hair, he’d said.
She stretched one hand forward, sliding her fingers through his dark, thick hair. Lightly, playfully—teasing it to wild peaks. Until the clipped locks stood on end, in amusing contrast to his piercing gaze and serious expression. He seemed to have no idea how to respond. Oh, dear. This man needed unsettling in the worst way. Was he so unfamiliar with affection? Perhaps just very out of practice. He’d been restraining himself for so long. That propriety was an overstarched cravat, stifling all the emotion that must be lurking deep inside. Was it any wonder he didn’t see the reason to wait for a love match? In all his years of being perfect . . . he’d forgotten the untidy, unruly bliss that human closeness could be. If he’d ever known true closeness at all.
Bosh, she told her heart. Stop twisting and aching. He’s a wealthy, powerful marquess, not a lost whelp in the rain.
She added her other hand to the first, toying more freely now. Biting back a mischievous smile, she teased her fingers through his hair, creating tufts that stood out at crazed angles—like the fur of an angry bear. Then she pushed all his hair to the center, giving him the look of a Mohican. “Are you enjoying yourself?” he asked dryly. “More than you could know.”
“Lord Granville. I didn’t hear you come in.” “I didn’t see you walk away.” “Everyone seemed occupied. I decided to duck in here for a bit of shopping.” “Looks more like a bit of snooping to me.”
Charlotte decided to change the subject.
“You wouldn’t believe what goes in these things.” She offered her perfumed wrists. “Here, tell me which scent you prefer. Lilies and whale vomit, or lemon balm and beaver’s arse.”
This is Vikki Wakefield's fourth novel and we 'clicked' right away. Since I've admired and enjoyed he"My heart is a room with an unwelcome visitor."
This is Vikki Wakefield's fourth novel and we 'clicked' right away. Since I've admired and enjoyed her previous work, I knew I would love her newest addition.
It's gritty, it's raw and oh-so gripping. Even though I'm a big scaredy-cat, I adore the thrill just the same and the novel delivers on all accounts. But it's more than a mystery with elements of horror. The author excels at writing about the human condition and character study. Moreover, the writing shines the most when she peels back the wonderfully onion-layered characters and the readers get to see them in all their complexity. There are no heroes without a touch of darkness, there are no villains without good intentions. Because we're all messy, complex and sometimes fucked-up creatures.
Our story picks up with the protagonist, seventeen-year-old Grace Foley competing in a dare, one amongst many in a long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston. She's so good at fooling others and pulling pranks that no one believes her, not even her friends when she sees something strange while balancing on top of a pipe.
"Ballad for a Mad Girl" differs from what Wakefield has written insofar as it straddles the line between gritty reality and the paranormal. The reality here gets stretched to a breaking point and sometimes even snaps, only to fall back in place. The reader gets to cross it and experience a new, unexplainable dimension with creepy horror elements. In fact, I found the delicious creep factor to be right my alley, making my toes curl and heart pound but not shit my pants:
I look down. I'm standing in a puddle. In the corner, the lamp flickers and fades, only to burn again with a hot brightness - too bright for a forty-watt globe. I launch myself across the room and onto the bed, shuddering and panting. I clutch my pillow for protection and watch as the puddle grows, creeping in a perfect circle, as if the water is being drawn from beneath the floorboards. It's bottomless as a well and inky, like old blood. The patch of light on the floor begins to move as if time is in fast motion; the reflection travels metres in seconds, coming to rest in the centre of the puddle. Time stops. The water is no longer black but illuminated, with the rippling image of a white-painted window. (...) The light from the lamp takes the edge off the darkness, but not enough to carry to the top of the stairwell. I press up against the headboard. Whatever it is, its breathing is deep and laboured, and it's getting closer. Now I can see a pixelated shadow, low, crawling, and an arm flung wide, slapping down with a thud, fingers grasping at the carpet. (...) I let out a hysterical shriek. The thing stops moving. Downstairs, Diesel barks, and the thing lifts its head. In the darkness it looks at me; faceless, it looks right at me. - ch11, p109
After the unexpected death of her mother, Grace along with her sad, embittered father and gruff, older brother have all been struggling to cope with the big blank she left behind. They awkwardly circle each other, talking but not really talking.
A tragedy that took place more than twenty years ago is somehow connected to her becoming unhinged and Grace is desperately trying to connect them, hoping it will help put her broken pieces together.
With Grace Foley, the author once again created a character so magnetic and deeply flawed, she feels real. She's so full of rage, cheekiness and grief she keeps everyone at a distance. Her once close circle of friends is slowly drifting apart, latching onto new friends. Grace can't distinguish what's real and not anymore, which makes this an engrossing read with her as the unreliable narrator. We see Grace falling apart, losing herself and putting herself back together. The story's focus switches between Grace's unraveling, the twenty-year-old mystery, her friendships, family and the death of her mother.
If you prefer to to read novels with a clean, distinct style that seems effortless in itself, you'll love this one. The visuals, Wakefield put into my head making mundane things poetic and extraordinary through the smallest of details is sheer magic:
Ruby's is exactly as I remember it: eighties decor with faded plates and scratched cutlery, but filled with warm light and amazing smells. Dad's wearing a dress shirt. It's as creased as his face, but it's a revelation to see him wearing something other than hi-vis workwear. ch9, p90
I dip my fingertips in the dust in the bottom of the charcoal box and paint cloudy smears, leaving a ghostly white silhouette in the centre. The dots still dance. If I squint they look like a line of marching ants. Or tiny numbers. All I have to do is play connect the dots. I pick up the tick and follow the numbers: hard, black lines. The charcoal shatters, but I go on, trying not to let the numbers get too far ahead or I'll lose them. I grind each piece to a nub, and when I run out I use my fingers and the corner of an eraser, working the dust, smudging: light here, dark there. An eye. Lashes. A bridge of nose and one slender arm, reaching. ch6, p63
"Ballad for a Mad Girl" hits the ground running and kept me at the edge of my seat throughout the whole book. I don't know what else to say except that you should try and read for yourself!...more