Mixed feelings

Her Dollmaker's Desire (Beyond Fairytales) - Gina Wynn


"I need you. I need you right now, and I'll need you tomorrow, they day after, and next week. I'll need you always. Please forgive me for my past."



Romance? Check.


Difficult to love characters? Check.


Engrossing story? Check.


Inability to understand Amy? Triple check.



Not your usual contemporary romance but romance nonetheless. This novel has characters that I find very difficult to understand and relate to but their story still left me glued to my chair until I finished it. I read in all of my spare time because I needed to know how things will unravel and I was not left disappointed with the ending.






Amy is 28, a former ballerina and now a trying-to-be-a-journalist whose father got her the aforementioned job and who lives at home with her mostly-absent-father and her new young stepmother that she doesn't like... well, that feeling goes both ways actually. She danced most of her life until an accident happened that turned her life upside down and left her lost not knowing what and who to be anymore. She also has an overbearing, abusive, psychopath-like ex boyfriend and former dance partner who made her into this little frightened girl whose life is filled with his rules and trust me... those rules annoyed me to no end.... you will see soon. 


She is sent to do an interview with Tobias, a famous dollmaker, who has an exhibit of his life's work happening soon. There she meets his grandson, Peder. 


Peder is introduced to us as another dollmaker who instantly falls in love with Amy as she walks into his grandfather's home. He is smitten in a second. He is a leather clad, motorbike loving, tattoo having gorgeous-looking... dollmaker. Right. So... apparently he has some shady past which we only learn about more towards the ending so I am not going to spoil it for you. He is trying to do whatever is possible for Amy to relax, accept his company so he eventually make her fall in love with him. 






Amy is our heroine... but boy she is so unlikable... I don't even know how to describe it. She is 28 and she still living abiding by all of her abusive ex boyfriend's insane rules and she is a complete doormat. People trample all over her left and right. Everyone. Her father, her stepmother, her boss, her ex, the lady at the museum. It's remarkable how much people can throw at her and she will still say she is fuc**** sorry. Pardon. I just get so mad when I see that. I cannot relate to that character on no level whatsoever. But I am trying my best to at least partly understand her.


All of Amy's rules listed in the order as they appear in the book:



Rule Number 15: Know your place, always.


Rule Number 9: Mind your own business.


New Rule Number 83: Retreat, retreat, retreat.


Rule Number 23: You're just not that interesting; stop talking.


Rule Number 37: Always ask permission.


Out-dated Rule Number 1: Never question Jonathan.


Rule Number 19: Motorbikes...oh dear God.


Out-dated Rule Number 3: Eating...something about not doing it.


Rule Number 14: Be controlled at all times.


Rule Number 7: Whatever the situation, always remember to breathe.


Rule Number 93: Learn to break and enter.


Rule Number 8: Your opinion holds no validity and is of no concern.


Rule Number 11: There to be seen, never heard.


Rule Number 16: Calories don't really drop out when you cut the cake.


Rule Number 43: Little brains don't deal well with new concepts.


Rule Number 52: You can't do anything on your own.


Rule Number 19: The Victorians could teach us a lot about decorum.


Rule Number 5: When in doubt, count.


Rule Number 12: I watch you always.


New Rule Number 6: Stop expecting every man to have Jonathan's motives.


Rule Number 2: When in bed with a man, do not ever, at any time, for any reason, mention the ex. Nope, surely it should be Rule Number 2 ½: Thou shalt not consider the ex whatsoever during an intimate moment.


Rule Number 47: Memorise layout of houses owned by lovely men in case of awkward morning after situation.


Rule Number 32: Learn how to escape via drainpipe.


Rule Number 41: The people you spend time with reflect who you are.


New Rule Number 5: Judging a book by its cover was no longer allowed.


Rule Number 18: You'll never be worth anything without me.


New Rule Number 0: Ignore the rules.


Rule Number 25: Things could change for the better.


Rule Number 96: Never accept a sports bag full of cash from anyone. Under any circumstances.


Rule Number 1: Live happily ever after.

(show spoiler)




Peder (please do not look up what his name means in a Croatian translation) is a bit of a mystery for the most part of the story. He is supposed to be this hardass bad boy with a difficult past but also a gentle loving and caring dollmaker. Very hard stretch and very hard to put together. Especially since we ever know he makes that one doll of his love of his life. But okay okay. I can sort of understand his character more. At least he only had that one rule *sighs in relief*. 


Tobias is the dollmaker and Peder's grandfather and the person who helped Peder and Amy realise they were meant for each other. He is described as a recluse, a bit of an eccentric persona who also loved a ballerina, the love of his life and who inspired all of his work (dolls). 


Jonathan is Amy's ex. I don't want to spend too much time on him because if I was Amy and he did that to me, he'd be long gone from this world and no one would ever miss that abusive prick.



  • "Jonathan liked his routine. Lying on a bed, quick feel between her legs – in, out, while she tried to think of something else, and then a shower because Jonathan found her disgusting and couldn't look at her until she cleaned herself up again."



Then we have Rosa, an Italian restaurant owner who helped Peder and his brother when they were growing up and getting into all sorts of trouble, Sebastian, Peder's half-brother who is presented to us as a leader of a gang but there comes a twist to this story later on, Belle/Maud, Amy's evil, not so evil stepmother, Mick, Amy's a$$hole of a boss who should spend some time with a dominatrix so he can be shown what a little insignificant a$$hole he really is. 


All of the characters we are introduced to add to the meaning of the story and there is a connection between all of them except for one person and his name is Nicodemus. Nicodemus is described in a lot of detail and introduced to us mysteriously with having a pet tarantula with him and visiting the old Tobias as though he will have a big meaning later on but no, we never see or hear of him ever again. It's a shame, I would have loved seeing his character a bit more, he seemed very interesting.






If I could... I would slap Amy silly, kill Jonathan, have a serious conversation with Amy's father, show Amy's stepmother and Amy's boss just how insignificant their little fits are and I would have paid more attention to Tobias but unfortunately I can't do any of it. So let me say the rest of my thoughts as if though I actually understand the characters.


Characters have pasts, they have layers, they mature and they develop well from what we see of them in the first few chapters. They move on and they find the strength to overcome their difficulties and reach a favourable ending to their story.


One thing I would like to mention to the author herself: Please bless us with a Sebastian story, I would be immensely grateful to you. 


The story itself is gripping, it very interesting and the writing is superb. The author wields her pen/keyboard well and I definitely enjoyed her style of writing. I also like her idea of a good bad boy so hey, another big plus for her.


The emotions run deep the deeper you go into the story so be prepared for it. It may not seem so at the beginning but eventually you do develop a bond with our main characters and you really have no choice but to root for them. I mean, as I finished the book, my breathing was laboured and my cheeks were flushed. So it's not all about creating characters everyone would like, it's about creating characters that will be remembered.




*I received a copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways and in return I gave my honest and heartfelt opinion on it.