Wednesday 14 August 2013


Book review: Playing Grace by Hazel Osmond

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 15 August 2013 by Quercus, 535 pages.

Description: Grace Surtees has everything carefully under control – her work life, her home life and her love life – especially her love life.

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...

...doesn't she?

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.


As a tour guide Grace has the opportunity to show visitors some of the finest London art institutions. Her love for the more conventional works is obvious from the way she animatedly talks about them and their creators to her charges. But when one day an obnoxious and irritating American butts into her tour and suggest that perhaps she's not quite as knowledgeable as she thinks she is it really gets under her skin.

So when after this disastrous encounter her scatterbrain boss introduces her to the man and happily announces that Tate is joining their small company to lead edgier and more modern tours it feels like her worst nightmare come true. Tate is possibly even more of an arrogant nuisance after she is forced to work with him, grating on Grace's nerves every time they so much as exchange a few words. It seems there is absolutely nothing the two are able to agree on yet beneath all this tension sparks are flying back and forth. As secrets from the past are threatening to catch up with Grace, she has to decide whether Tate really is a foe or perhaps he could be a friend (or more).

I am not sure how to judge this novel, as there was nothing wrong with it per se yet I didn't fell in love with it either. It was gentle, perhaps bordering on the slow side ever so slightly, but an enjoyable enough read. I suppose the main issue I had while reading is that I was unable to muster up any interest for the two main characters, nor was I able to connect to their individual stories. And because of that I felt largely uninterested in what would eventually happen to them.

In her attempts to hide the past, and the unforgivable secrets hidden within them as alluded to time and time again within the novel, Grace comes across unsympathetic and unreasonable. Tate in turn often is the personification of the loud and annoying American that Grace sees him as. The two truly are like water and fire and it is difficult to understand what it is that Tate sees in Grace during that first meeting which makes him so determined to chase after her, despite Grace's obvious dislike for him and her reluctance to open up.

The uninspiring story of Grace and Tate aside, I was instantly intrigued by some of the characters surrounding them. Grace's father and his eccentric obsession with police work was one of them, and Violet who is afraid of leaving her house yet is obsessed with visiting other countries through the means of scrapbooking is another. My favourite of them all was Alistair, Grace's boss who is hiding a big secret not only from his employees but also his wife. These supporting characters were all fascinating and had a unique story to tell and I really wanted to know more about them.

While I didn't overly love the novel, as I felt disinterested in the main characters and the story isn't very memorable, reading it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

You can pre-order your copy now from,, Waterstones or your own preferred retailer.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review

Would you like to know more about author Hazel Osmond? You can connect with her online at the following places:


Twitter: @hosmond



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