Desert Isle Keeper
Mr. (Not Quite) Perfect
I think I just found a contender for 2014’s Best Category Romance. Mr. (Not Quite) Perfect mixes lighthearted romantic comedy and emotional angst almost perfectly to create a story that held my attention from beginning to end. Not many books will manage to make me laugh out loud and get teary but this one manages it.
Living in the shadow of her reknowned journalist mother doesn’t come easy for Allegra Fielding. She struggles to win her mother’s approval but heavyhitting political writing just isn’t her. Instead Allegra is trying to find a footing at Glitz, a fashion magazine. She’s convinced that her latest article idea just might help her climb the ladder. Allegra will transform a not-so-perfect everyday guy into Prince Charming and take readers along for the ride.
Allegra gets the go-ahead to write her article, but finding a volunteer to take part in the various stunts Allegra cooks up proves more difficult. Since Allegra is helping out her roommate Max with a business dinner, she decides to rope him into being her guinea pig for the article as payback. Not surprisingly, as the two work together on the sometimes ridiculous assignments required for the piece, the chemistry between them becomes impossible to ignore.
If you love friends-to-lovers stories, this one is particularly sweet. The plot is pretty predictable for anyone who has ever watched a good romantic comedy. However, what takes this book from okay to great is the writing. Allegra and Max feel like real people and their dialogue is fun to read. Readers can sense the chemistry between them just by reading how they speak to one another and so by the time they finally move toward a relationship, it feels just perfect. Their first time having sex seems wonderfully romantic instead of contrived, and this ended up being one of those rare books where I actually felt emotionally invested in the conflict that arose between them.
While the progression of stunts designed to further Allegra’s article definitely brings plenty of humor to the book, the more serious side of the story gives it a depth that sets it apart from the average romantic comedy. And there’s a lot going on with that more serious side. For starters, Allegra lives very much in the shadow of her accomplished mother and we see her trying to craft her own identity apart from that just as we also see her struggle with not knowing her father. These are all heavy issues, and the author does a fantastic job of weaving them through the story while still maintaining a fairly lighthearted touch.
I enjoyed Allegra and Max, and hated to see their story end. When done right, category romances can be perfect little gems. And this funny yet achingly romantic little story is definitely an example of category done right.