Gracie and the Bad Hat
by Vicki Gaia
'A bad hat': a person who deliberately stirs up mischief and commotion.
Grace O’Shaughnessy, a hat maker who lives in San Francisco, is determined to find a perfect man to love. Left at the altar because her ex-fiancé had considered her too high-maintenance, Grace makes a list of the qualities she’s looking for in Mr. Right. Never again will she date an irresponsible guy.
Dedicating her list to Jane Austen, the way she sees it, Ms. Austen’s heroines always chose the gentleman over the rake. Everything is going according to plan, until she wakes up naked in bed with a stranger! Well, not a complete stranger…but a photographer she’d met at his opening. Living in the seediest neighborhood in San Francisco, he’s definitely not a suitable choice for a serious relationship.
Not at all a gentleman, Steven Levy is a man Grace’s mother would consider a bad hat. Worse yet, he sets out to get Gracie back into his bed, viewing her as a delicious challenge. Reeling from a bad affair, he wants nothing to do with love, but Gracie, with her long legs, honey color hair, and crazy hats intrigues him. Ready to prove her wrong about that damn list of hers, why can’t she realize finding a perfect man isn’t the same as shopping for groceries?
To Grace’s annoyance, Steven pops up everywhere! He won’t go away, and the more she’s with him the more their attraction grows. He shows her a side of the city she’s never explored. There is more to Steven Levy than Grace first thought, and she’s tempted to rip up her list. Anyone who loves his grandmother the way Steven does can’t be all that bad.
A self-confessed Janeite, I was drawn in by the premise of this book. Gracie is searching for her Mr Darcy. She even has a list of all the qualities she wants in a man. Jane Austen doesn't factor into the plot much more than that, although the characters' pride and prejudices keep them apart for most of the novel.
Grace just can't believe that Steven is the kind of guy she needs. He does not fit her list at all. He's a photographer, lives in a bad neighbourhood, and is quite anxious to get her into bed.
As Steven tries to seduce Grace, he finds he's falling for her. A big surprise for him.
Through most of the novel, Grace and Steven battle demons of the past: failed romances and Steven's strained relationship with his mother. Although the title and premise lead one to believe this is a light hearted tale, there are serious issues of drug use and mental illness. It gives the story substance.
While Grace and Steven's romance is the main one, I found myself drawn more to the secondary one between Mina and Robert. I just loved this couple. I can't say much about them without giving away their story but they were very real to me.
The story lagged a bit for me in the middle and there was a a sprinkling of silted dialogue here and there but overall, I found it to be quite an enjoyable read.
Review by Lavender