Unsticky, by Sarra Manning

Review published on September 23, 2012. Reviewed by Jade Cranwell

Dubbed as Pretty Woman for the twenty-first century, Unsticky poses the question, How far would you go for money?. Grace Reeves learnt a long time ago that money makes the world go round – the only problem is that she doesn’t have any. Trying to survive on minimum wage is something that is becoming more common these days, and the massive backlog of debt that Grace has accumulated over the years doesn’t help her dire financial situation. So what would you do if a wealthy art-dealer like Vaughn appeared at your side with an offer of financial stability in return for your name signed on a contract and a promise to be at his every beck and call?

Grace agrees, and soon finds herself in the deep end, trying to adjust to a world of luxury and privilege, instead of Primark and poverty. Her family and friends disapprove of their relationship, and turn away from her, and soon Vaughn is the closest thing Grace has to a friend. Their arrangement becomes increasingly like a relationship and as the line between mistress and girlfriend begins to blur, Grace has to ask herself if the money is enough, when it’s the man she really wants.

This is a rerelease for Sarra Manning’s Unsticky, due to doubt to the Fifty Shades of Grey popularity. As fan of Manning’s young adult novels, including Let’s Get Lost and Nobody’s Girl among others, I actually read Unsticky when it was first released back in 2009, and let me assure you, it hasn’t lost any of its edge the second time around.

Although the plot seems to leave a little to be desired on paper, Manning’s incredible eye for detail brings the story alive. Her writing is excellent; the characters realistic. Unsticky has always been my absolute favourite ‘chick-lit’ novel. It has a mixture of everything you could want; humour, romance, complicated relationships and characters with a troubled past.

Unsticky has a lot in common with Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, because shopping is essentially what sets the foundation for the story. Grace is addicted to fashion; working for Skirt magazine and being surrounded by the height of fashion and fashionable people only adds fuel to the fire. She goes on shopping binges, buying expensive handbags and dresses that only result in her ever-growing pile of debt. Out of her eleven overdrawn credit cards, she even keeps one hidden in the depths of her freezer. As Grace’s financial situation worsens, the arrangement Vaughn proposes – to become his mistress for a monthly allowance of cash and clothes – is one she can’t refuse.

The outcome is one that actually makes Grace happy. Meeting Vaughn gives Grace a much-needed chance to reinvent herself, and try to forget about the old Grace, and the baggage that she carries. But, of course, nothing is ever that simple and soon her troubled upbringing is catching up with her, in the form of her mother, with Grace’s new half-sister in tow. Grace’s humble beginnings keep her grounded but the mixture of a communication breakdown with her family and friends, combined with her unusual, ongoing relationship with Vaughn results in enough drama to keep even the fussiest reader happy. I am now eagerly awaiting Manning’s next adult novel, due for release in May 2013.

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