Perfect Kind of Trouble
The first book in Chelsea Fine’s Finding Fate trilogy, Best Kind of Broken, was nearly a DIK. So when I finally found the time to jump into the second installment, Perfect Kind of Trouble, I had very high expectations. To be sure, I thoroughly enjoyed Daren and Kayla’s story and can easily recommend this book as a light, fun read. But a few minor plot issues and a somewhat ridiculous premise took the proverbial bloom off the rose a bit.
Beautiful Kayla Turner has returned to the quaint Arizona town of Copper Springs for her father’s funeral. While she loved the man, his absence from her life for the past five years has left her with a sense of raw bitterness, a feeling that is intensified when she discovers that he had established a fatherly relationship with the town man-ho, Daren Ackwood, even as he’d all but abandoned his own daughter. Thinking that once she has signed the legal papers regarding her father’s will, she will be able to focus her attention on solving her most pressing problems – homelessness, lack of a job or any money, and the possibility that a Chicago mafia man is after her to collect a debt racked up by her late mother – Kayla is dismayed to learn that while there may actually be an inheritance with her name on it, she must manage to jump through a few last hoops set by her eccentric dad.
Daren Ackwood is successful at exactly two things; providing amazing sex to the women who throw themselves at his feet, and faking the image that he is still the smooth, carefree, rich boy who grew up in Copper Springs. No one knows that, in fact, he’s nearly penniless, living in an abandoned house, washing dishes for hot meals and has just lost his car to a repo man. When he learns that Old Man Turner – the closest person Daren ever had to a real father – has left him some money in his will, Daren is more than willing to put up with the arrogant Kayla Turner. Sure, she’s drop-dead gorgeous, but she’s also proven completely immune to Daren’s own good looks and charm so she must be a snob. In addition, given the cruel way Kayla has ignored her own father over the past few years, Daren feels confident he’ll feel no guilt if he conspires to keep the entire inheritance for himself.
Neither Daren nor Kayla are fully prepared, however, to endure the craziness in store for them. In order to get their hands on the money Turner has left for them, they must embark on a scavenger hunt that takes them all over Copper Springs while handcuffed to each other. As they follow clues, the façades they present to the world begin to fall away, and they learn that they are both covering up a lot of heartbreak on the inside. And since they are literally chained to each other, the physical attraction that is simmering beneath the surface begins to heat to a full boil that neither can ignore.
Daren appeared in the first book of the Finding Fate series, and I had strong reservations about him as a hero given the way he came across, even as a minor secondary character. Painted as a shallow, narcissistic douchebag, I couldn’t imagine what would make Daren sympathetic. To that end, the author does a great job in painting a tragic backstory that explains Daren’s current predicament and demonstrating that beneath his surface bravado is a really decent guy who harbors far more insecurities than one would ever expect of such a handsome chick magnet. What comes across as an unwillingness to ever commit to any one woman proves to be a fear of abandonment that drives Daren to avoid attachments before he can be hurt again.
For her part, Kayla views her beauty as more of a handicap than an asset. She has a hard time trusting that any man can have the ability see beneath her exterior and want her for the person she is on the inside. She’s hurt by what she views as her father’s indifference while she lived in a state of growing poverty with a mother who had descended into addiction. It takes the days attached to Daren for Kayla to learn truths about both her parents and to realize that there are some guys out there who care more about who she is than what she looks like.
Chelsea Fine maintains the same great dialogue and appealing characters that she established in Best Kind of Broken. My biggest issue with Perfect Kind of Trouble was the main premise of the story. The reality of two people being forced to remain handcuffed together 24/7 was simply too unpleasant to drive a workable romance. The inconvenience of handcuffs was mentioned when warranted for comic relief, but the true impossibility of living that way for any longer than a few hours, much less for days, is ignored. For example, while Fine describes the awkwardness of the couple trying to maneuver themselves in and out of Kayla’s car, she doesn’t cover is the logistics of these two characters using the restroom with any degree of privacy, sleeping comfortably for an entire night, or even changing clothes without cutting off the sleeves of every shirt. And I don’t really know that this plot device was necessary. I certainly would have believed that Old Man Turner’s scavenger hunt could have been constructed in such a way that would have required the couple to remain together to solve the clues without actual handcuffs.
Another more subtle plot hole that I can’t describe in detail for fear of spoilers also rendered some of Kayla’s financial woes completely unnecessary. I know she needed a solid, driving reason for why she’d willingly handcuff herself to a man in order to get her hands on some money, but, again, I think this could have been accomplished fairly easily in a different way.
Overall, I can recommend Perfect Kind of Trouble as another solid installment in the Finding Fate trilogy. While I enjoyed Pixie and Levi’s romance more, Kayla and Daren proved to be two very well-mated lost souls, and their story is entertaining if not life-altering. To be honest, I’m hoping that Fine decides to write the love story of Pixie’s Aunt Ellen, because that’s one woman who has it all together!