Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Grace McCaffery hopes the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader.

A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

My Thoughts:
The description of this story really captured my attention, immediately drawing a grand picture in my mind of the potential fun that could be had with the scenario. Unfortunately, the execution of the plot fell somewhat flat and left me rather disappointed.

The story started out well enough, and initially I liked Grace and Owen, the two main characters. Their interactions were entertaining, especially when Grace was still fresh off the boat from Ireland. But somewhere along the way, perhaps around the 1/3 mark, I found my attention starting to waver, and it never fully recovered.

Grace's distrust of police officers results in her and Owen having little interaction for a large portion--right in the middle--of the story, and I feel this is one of the downfalls. It forced the plot to mostly revolve around their separate lives, which ultimately served to make Owen look like a work-a-holic and to make Grace look overly naive. They were kept apart so long that when they finally did start to work together in the end, I could no longer see any connection or chemistry between them.

I felt the conflict wasn't played up enough, and what conflict there was seemed to be spread across several different subplots. In particular, I thought the side story involving Owen's parents was unnecessary and didn't add much, aside from length, to the overall novel. Grace's issue with her employer being involved in questionable practices initially appeared like it might offer a fun/creepy vibe, but it fizzled out and was resolved without much commotion.

I did like the parts where the Brownie camera came into play, however I felt it wasn't used to the full potential. The gangster matter also wasn't as predominant as I thought it could be. Ultimately, I feel the story would be stronger if it were trimmed and tightened up. I don't like giving 3 star ratings, and I really do like the *idea* of the story... but at this point I have to admit that I'm glad to have finished the book so I can move on to something else. 

My Rating: 3 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Tyndale) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

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