June 16, 2014

Review: Unsticky by Sarra Manning

Unsticky by Sarra Manning
Published: 2012, CB Creative Books
Genre: Adult Romance
Source: Purchased

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.

From an outsider’s perspective, it may appear as though Grace Reeves is living the fashionista’s dream. She works for Skirt, a London-based fashion magazine, she breathes fashion, and she wears many of the latest trends.

The problem is that she cannot afford this lifestyle. At all. She lives in an apartment building that should probably be condemned, her credit card debt is so high that she’s afraid of even opening her mail or listening to her voicemail, and as for her glamorous job? She basically does the grunt work.

When super rich art mogul James Vaughn offers her an usual proposition - become his mistress, receiving a generous allowance each month and access to elite events - it doesn’t take Grace too long to accept his offer. And for a while she thoroughly enjoys the perks of being Vaughn’s mistress, even if she isn’t too crazy about Vaughn himself. But Grace soon learns that her new lifestyle doesn’t magically solve all the problems in her life.

So. This book. Given the rocky relationship I had with it on the outset (for a good while picking it up felt like a chore to me), I ended up enjoying Unsticky quite a bit. It took me a while to adjust to how very British this story is, and also to the fashion world being presented here. Unsticky is also a lengthy novel in comparison to many romances. But sticking this story out ended up being a very satisfying experience for me.

Grace is very reminiscent of another British fashionista who drowns her issues in shopping: Becky Bloomwood of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. But somehow Becky’s story feels a little more glorified, a little more Disney-ified, if you will. At least, in comparison to Grace’s.

At times it was absolutely anxiety-inducing to have Unsticky be narrated through Grace’s perspective. This is firmly Grace’s story and should be told through her perspective, but it wasn’t the easiest for my nerves. I’m Grace’s polar opposite in many ways, and to witness her impulsivity with regard to finances, daily needs, and more was more than baffling to me.  Even knowing that there was going to be some resolution and much-needed character development at the time did not entirely quell my unease about her more-than-questionable choices.

And so while I admire how far Grace has come by the end of the book, I cannot say that she is one of my favorite protagonists, nor that I was able to ever truly empathize with her (generally terrible) choices and circumstances.

As far as romances go, Grace and Vaughn’s relationship is not entirely without literary or theatrical precedent. She’s the young, (somewhat) impressionable and naive girl that he deigns to take under his wing. He’s the uber rich businessman with trust issues of his own. They bicker and constantly misjudge one another. But in the end readers know that they’re the only ones who will be able to make the other whole.

Was their relationship problematic at times? Most definitely. But it was also a lot sweeter than I expected it to be, and by the end I was definitely rooting for them. I think that understanding is perhaps the most important factor in a relationship and, even though they didn’t always like each other and their decisions, Grace and Vaughn both were able to at least understand one another.

Outside of Grace’s characterization, Vaughn’s characterization, and their relationship, not much else in this book is lasting or substantial. Grace’s coworkers, former best friend, and grandparents (and familial estrangement issues) all play a role in the face she puts forth to Vaughn (and the world), but this is her story with Vaughn.

And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. This may be my first Manning book, but it will not be my last.

Recommended for those who enjoy dysfunctional relationships that promise to evolve into something more functional, as well as the sort of protagonists who have a long, long way to go to reach any sort of stability. And for people who enjoy a more complicated sort of romance.

Rating: 4 stars

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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. "This is her story with Vaughn."

    Yes. That. :)

  2. Yay! I'm so glad that you ended up enjoying this Amanda. I agree at times Grace did remind me of Becky, but I'm glad that she wasn't as annoying as her. Vaughn and Grace certainly won me over in the end too, which I'm glad about as Vaughn blew hot and cold with me at times. Looking forward to seeing how you get on with more of Manning's books! Lovely review!

  3. I haven't heard of this, but it sounds really interesting. I love it when books I'm debating giving up on end up being good--which sounds like the case here. It is hard for me to sympathize with the shopaholic lifestyle. I enjoy shopping as much as the next girl, but I know when I can afford it and when I cannot. I like Kinsella's series, but it is just fluffy fun. You never think anything bad will actually happen to Becky. The romance here sounds unique, though, maybe I'll give this a shot sometime. Great review!

  4. YAY! I'm glad that you stuck with this one and ended up loving it. I also like that this is all about Vaughn and Grace. You made me laugh with your Shopaholic reference - that DID feel Disney-fied compared to this. You know there's going to be another one of those books. I'm not going to read it though. Becky gives me a headache, and I ended up finding Grace to be more endearing. She does grow up in this, and I love how well Vaughn and she compliment each other, despite the fact that outwardly they seem like they wouldn't work at all.

  5. I'm so glad you like this book, Amanda (: You made grin by making the reference of Becky Bloomwood's story as Disney-ified and I completely agree with you on that. I was sold for Grace and Vaughn's relationship by the end of the story, although I was exasperated with Grace at some moments. Lovely review, dear!!


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