I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I bought it on a whim (being doing a lot of that recently to great success so far!) and was not expecting to be so drawn in.
Vain is the story of Sophie Price. Sophie is perfect in every way. Rich, beautiful and popular, all the guys want her and all the girls want to be her. She can have anyone she wants and frequently does, never caring if she hurts anyone in the process. She uses her beauty to seduce and manipulate others. Sophie is a bitch you see. She doesn't give a damn about anybody. Or does she? Sophie is the very definition of a mean girl but you quickly see that most of this is just a front, a facade to cover up the vulnerable and neglected young girl she really is. Her parents are fabulously wealthy but do not pay her any attention. Sophie has practically raised herself and as a result is acutely lonely.
After a party she is attending is busted by the police, and Sophie is caught snorting coke, her life is flung into chaos. In order to avoid a prison sentence (as this is not her first offence) Sophie is ordered to 6 months working in an orphanage in Uganda. This is where the story really kicks off. Sophie meets a young man dubbed 'Dingane' who has been sent to pick her up from the airport and take her to the orphanage where he works as a teacher and general handy man. Sophie is surprised to see a white man there to pick her up (she was expecting an African). She instantly feels a strong and undeniable attraction to this young man who as it turns out is from Cape Town (real name Ian Aberdeen), the son of two wealthy politicians. He appears to hate her on sight however, and treats her with contempt.
Sophie is nearly brought to tears when she sees the children at the orphanage. Most of them are wounded in some way, missing limbs, eyes, even parts of their faces. All of these children have been affected by hardship and violence. The orphanage is a tough challenge for Sophie, who is not used to living rough at all, but she becomes entranced with the children and is soon accepted into the small community. Dingane (or Ian) takes longer to warm up to her but it soon becomes apparent that he too has very strong feelings for her and a warm friendship is begun that soon turns into a romance.
However, their relationship faces more dangers than they could ever imagine and there is also the fact that Sophie's time is limited, that she is to return home once her sentence is complete. Will their relationship survive the trials they face?
This was a surprisingly intense novel. The story was very different and the romance between the two main characters was realistic and hard-won. Overall I really enjoyed this and will now be checking out the author's other works.