Review of The Delicate Things we Make by Milena McKay
I’ve been hearing good things about this book so I’ve decided to drop everything else and read it. This is McKay’s debut novel just published last month (January 2021) and she has already published a second book, in this case, a novella, called The Perfect Match. While I think this is a promising debut, I was expecting a bit more.
Investigative journalist Jamie Walker is going through a rough patch: her boyfriend left her, and she’s got no permanent job and no money. When she is asked to use her research skills to find the secretive and elusive artist DeVor, she sees it as a ticket out of her troubles. But as she gets closer to the enigmatic artist, she risks breaking her heart once again.
This book was originally conceived as a Devil Wears Prada fanfiction. And of course, there’s an ice queen and an age gap relationship. Now released as a novel, it still keeps some of the telltale signs of a fanfiction story in its extension and the way the chapters are structured. In my opinion, it could have done with a bit more editing work. For example, the balance between prose and dialogue is a bit off, some important parts of the plot happen off-screen, and there are some issues with the pacing, among other problems. However, it’s a debut so that has to be taken into consideration.
I have to warn potential readers that there are a good number of triggers in this book in the form of rape, sexual harassment, and abuse. Everything happens off-screen but that theme takes a big part of the plot. There’s no way around it and while the romance is in some parts passionate and hot, it doesn’t take away the bittersweet feel of the book. I’m not saying this as a criticism, on the contrary, it’s quite realistic, but I’m just warning not to expect a fluffy read. The story reminded me a lot of the case surrounding Harvey Weinstein so that’s what you should expect to read about.
The story is told in third person from the exclusive point of view of Jamie. Personally, I would have preferred first-person instead in order to reduce the psychic distance between the events of the story and the reader. This is a very personal and emotional story and some of the main character’s experiences are lost because the reader isn’t completely in her headspace. It would have made the investigation process more interesting too.
Regarding the romance, it was sweet, passionate, and sizzling hot. The sex scenes are very good in this novel and the author captures perfectly the sensuality of art. While the romance is mostly in the background, it is very well done and the best part of the plot. Maybe if the main characters’ relationship was in the driving seat, my enjoyment would have been better. Nevertheless, Ms. McKay is an author to watch. 3.5 stars.