While every now and then Carly Phillips releases a book that falls into the dud category for me, most of the time she writes solid if not extraordinary contemporary romances. Perfect Fling falls into the latter category. It is a good solid story that keeps you turning the pages even after everyone else in the house has turned out the lights. However it will probably not have you turning back to page one when you have finished the book.
”Erin Marsden had always been Serendipity’s good girl.” This is the opening line of Perfect Fling and sets the tone for the heroine’s personality right from the beginning. Erin’s father is the retired Chief of Police and both of her brothers followed him into the law enforcement field. Having so much law and order testosterone in the house forced Erin into her good girl bubble; a bubble she never left until she ran into Cole Sanders at her brother’s wedding. A little alcohol and a lifetime of lusting gets the proper assistant district attorney Erin to let down her hair and have one down and dirty night with Serendipity’s resident bad boy.
Cole Sanders has issues. His main issue is his verbally and at one point physically abusive father who blames Cole for the breakup of his marriage to Cole’s mother. Jed Sander’s constant demeaning of his son has left Cole scarred and afraid of commitment. Deep down he believes his father’s judgment that he is no good. He even follows his father into law enforcement (Jed was the assistant Chief of Police under Erin’s father), subconsciously seeking his approval. However, Cole goes into the dark life of undercover work instead of the public version his father chose. After two years of an undercover assignment that has left Cole drained and wondering who he is, Cole has returned to Serendipity for some down time before being sent out into the field again.
When Erin sees Cole again after their one night stand, it is clear that he wants nothing in terms of a permanent relationship. Hurt that he obviously does not return her regard, Erin resolves to leave him alone and get on with her life. Getting herself back on track is working out fine until after weeks of thinking she is battling the flu, Erin discovers she is pregnant. Before she can tell Cole about the baby, she manages to get herself shot in the parking lot of the courthouse. Cole overhears her telling the emergency room doctor she is pregnant and then all previous relationship bets are off. When Erin’s overbearing brother Mike insists that Erin be taken care of and protected until they discover who shot at her, Erin digs in her heels. Cole takes her feet and shoves them aside as he insists on taking care of her now that he knows she is carrying his child.
The good girl/bad boy trope is a familiar one, but Carly Phillips does a good job of not making this story stale. Erin’s character was likeable and mature without being too perfect. Cole was the quintessential bad boy only in his mind. His reputation stemmed from a few teenage scrapes that no one will let him forget because his father is always there to remind them. Unfortunately he cannot let his reputation go either and his constant beating up on himself does get slightly tiresome. The underlying mystery of who is after Erin is solid enough to entertain, but pretty transparent from the beginning. Phillips does throw in a twist that sets up a future book and that was enough to keep the reader guessing. The romance barely escapes the “big misunderstanding” and in the hands of a less competent author could have gone very wrong. However, Phillips pulls it off and creates a story that you will want to read to the very end.