Friday, November 27, 2020

Rhea Rhodan - Finding Grace

Two haunted souls seeking peace, find each other instead.
Kidnapped by human monsters, Grace Thorne was ripped from her quiet intellectual life and left deeply scarred. She’s hidden herself for five years, but there’s no escape from the nightmares of the past, or visions of the future. When one foretells tragedy, she gambles her fragile defenses on a haunted man to prevent it—only to discover love is the biggest risk of all.
Jack Daggery doesn’t need a mirror to know why people avoid him, but he doesn’t really care. After years working deep undercover, immersed in betrayal and death, all he wants is some peace and the quiet security company he co-owns.
Dagger has no idea why the foul-mouthed little server of questionable gender bothers him. But he does know that living with the ghosts of his past was hard enough without being tormented by the mysterious thorn in his side—or finding how much he needs her.

Comment: This book got on my radar more or less two years ago because I saw it presented by a reader in such a way, that after reading the blurb I was sold on trying it too. I finally managed to get to it but the result wasn't as good as I hoped for.

This is the story of Grace Thorne, a young woman whose life changed after the day she was attacked and left for dead. Her recovery was hard but now she reinvented herself and leads a life behind the stage, being a computer expert and having sometimes "visions" which she acts on when it's possible to help someone. One day she helps a team of private consultants while they are working and somehow she gets arrested because of that. The team's boss decides to help her and later on hires her, but it's future co-worker Jack Daggery that gets under her skin. They both dislike being in the center of attention and both have things from their past they aren't comfortable discussing but they definitely think about the other more than thy should. When something happens to Grace once more, can Jack be there for her?

I had a hard time enjoying reading this book. Some parts weren't very appealing to read, simply because they were boring, other sections confused me and I really disliked how the relationships between the characters were so superficial and lacking enough complexity. When I say this, I don't mean I wanted complicated things, only that the character's personalities weren't captivating and the way they interacted wasn't anything special either.

The plot should be interesting but I feel the way the author wrote this made things unnecessarily badly done. The narrative style seems to jump from place to place and I think it made me less willing to keep the focus on what was happening. I suppose I should say it didn't feel, to me, the author did the wisest decision in pushing the main character so suddenly into the front. I think this is a type of story that should be given more time, more development into every scene. In the end, I just felt this wasn't as good as it promised and the characters didn't carry the plot on their own.

Grace is a woman who suffered a lot and we get to have information on it here and there. I still wonder why she was attacked, though. Convenience? The author didn't feel that mattered? However, in how things are shown to us, Grace feels like coming from nowhere. She is smart, got to climb higher in her formative years so she was very intelligent but somehow she also knew dance, which we learn in scenes closer to the middle of the book... why? Why does this matter except finally reveal herself to the hero?

Yes, in this story, Grace prefers to hide herself from attention by wearing men's clothes and (apparently) there's some androgyny to her that other people can't immediately understand her gender. Ok, interesting, but then the hero doesn't have great thoughts about gay people (nor do most of the characters to be fair) so to have him dislike the idea of being attracted to Grace without knowing she is a woman in disguise but still thinking about her delicate fingers and whatnot while thinking and allowing offensive comments about gay people... it just was unappealing to me to read about these characters.

The hero, by the way, whom I never got to understand. He is considered ugly but it isn't explicitly shared why and the fact he is reserved should fit Grace perfectly but another thing I didn't think was presented well is how they fall in love. To me, they didn't. I see the need to add romance to this story but there's so much the author could have done... 

Then comes the big conflict, which was quite over the top and I wasn't paying enough attention as for why she Grace was kidnapped but with the lack of good writing and subtlety in conveying information in a way readers could make their own minds, it just stopped mattering that much to me. It's a pity, really, because what made me interested in reading the book were the elements that I felt were less developed or developed in the weakest way, to me. Reading the description the person who told me about this story gave, made me think of a quiet heroine who wanted to be alone but would be slowly convinced of being with others while she and the hero fell in love. Well, this does happen but the execution certainly lacked the emotion and the romance I envisioned.

After all that happened and although being in love, Jack and Grace don't work on their past traumas. They act as if still being affected by the things they no longer manage to do, which is fine but then don't treat this as if it didn't matter to why their personalities are the way they are. With the kind of things they lived through, Grace more so, can they really improve to be in a stale relationship with all their being? I can't judge but I don't think the author convinced me of that in this context.

I don't think I need to keep repeating I wasn't too fond of this story. Sadly, it's one of those I probably won't remember much more about it than just the notion I didn't like reading it.

Grade: 3/10

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