Tommy sat by the ocean in Malibu, watching the surfers, clad in wet suits like black seals waiting for the right wave. It was almost dark. He mulled over the day‟s events. He really hadn‟t meant anything to happen. He had just gotten off the plane when his cell phone rang. It was Marie—the Bel Ange, as Sylvia called her. Marie suggested they have lunch again—she‟d seen from his Facebook post that he was in LA. Just to talk about her headshots, she said. A little chitchat about music, acting—have a nice time out.
She was pushy, Tommy thought. A pretty girl used to getting men to do her favors.
Still, he found himself saying “yes.”
He had no idea that Marie would be so flirtatious. So predatory. Her skin was silky and
pearlish, smooth and taut. Her dark hair hung over her shining eyes like a wild mare‟s mane. She was wearing a short (oh so short!) black skirt and he could see a flash of knickers when she sat down. Wow, she looked young. So fresh. Innocent. So bloody . . .Photogenic.
Just looking at her nipped-in waist and pert breasts, (so wantonly on display—visible through her tight little sweater), made him question himself. He felt old. Played.
It was as if she had some power over him and she could feel it. She played with it like a child bouncing a ball. Controlling where the ball went, how high.
He was the ball; a worn, leathery old rugby ball.
Her French accent made her vulnerable, though—all the more enticing. Vulnerability and power mixed together, like a bomb waiting to explode. She had a slight lisp when she spoke. A little pussycat.
Ready to pounce on him.
Sylvia—a composer half-heartedly conducting an orchestra from an armchair, wanting him to play the right tune but with no direct input herself—flashed into his mind.
It was a warm day, and he and Marie sat in the restaurant‟s patio garden. Very LA. Relaxed. Cool. Smart, but not pretentious. She ordered a Margarita so he did the same, even though it was
midday. She giggled and shuffled about in her chair. Her legs opened and closed as she crossed and uncrossed her legs—he saw that her kickers were white—a little twinkle of light flashed from them. Like a star. That’s right, the Americans call them panties. He laughed, remembering a chant they used to have at primary school, playing Kiss-Chase with the girls, when he was a skinny little boy afraid of the opposite sex:
Up with skirts, down with knickers . . . Up with skirts, down with knickers . . . Up with skirts....
“So what‟s your favorite kind of photography? Fashion?” Marie asked, her doll eyes wide, her lips parted.
He thought of Diane Arbus, one of his favorite photographers, how she earned an income from fashion photography, although her real love was finding the interior soul of a subject: portraits of dwarfs, giants and transvestites. She had broken a mold, opened doors, seen beauty in the distasteful. That was Tommy‟s goal, his passion.
This girl though, would probably have never heard of Diane Arbus.
He said, “Well what I really love is—”
“I hope you‟re going to take some amazing pictures of me,” the girl interrupted.
“Well, I‟m not sure if I have—”
“I need the pictures to get the attention of directors, you know? Look really sexy but also like
I‟m a serious actress.” She licked her top lip slowly, flicking her tongue to catch a flake of salt, and then let her mouth caress the straw, gently sucking up more of her cocktail.
As a true fangirl of Arianne Richmonde, I can HONESTLY say without doubt that this is her writing in its finest!! I have religiously kept up with her Pearl Trilogy and then her two follow up novels, Pearl and Belle Pearl BUT... Stolen Grace, in all due respect, blows all of those earlier works away!!
I think it was very “ballsy” for an author to write in a three person perspective but primarily when it switched to five year old Grace’s POV in an adult romance. How very ingenious and intuitive!! I very much applaud Arianne’s intelligence for effortlessly portraying that!
The story itself is so sensitive, heart gripping, and dynamic that you can’t help but immerse yourself into it. It not only covers a marriage on the rocks but also: race, poverty, war, hate, deception, religion, forgiveness, perseverance, and also four types of love (romantic love, a parents’ love for their child, unconditional love, and love for oneself).
A very dramatic, spell binding, and out of the box success for Ms. Richmonde!! I LOVED every minute of it!!
-Overall : 10
-Plot : 9
-Writing : 10
-Characters : 9
-Cover : 9
Arianne Richmonde is an American writer and artist who spent her formative years in both Britain and the US. She has also lived in Spain and France.
She has traveled to many corners of the globe and meeting people from all walks of life and different countries is a passion of hers. She speaks fluent Spanish and French. She lives in France in an old stone farmhouse amidst sunflower fields and vineyards, with her husband and coterie of animals.
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