Picture Perfect has a serious issue at the center of its plot: the sickle cell anemia disease that afflicts far too many African Americans. The central question at the center of this book is, should a young woman in love push aside a chance at happiness because of the disease?
Photographer Cassidy Adams leaves Mobile, Alabama, after she discovers that the love of her life, Damon, fathered another woman’s child. She moves to Cincinnati, where she also becomes involved in volunteer projects. It is at one of these activities that she meets Brian Lassiter, the star outfielder for the Cincinnati Blazers, and although they have a rocky first meeting, a mutual attraction is definitely there.
Two weeks later, Brian finds that he can’t forget Cassidy, even though she makes “snap judgments” about him without knowing him at all. When they meet again at a New Year’s charity ball, benefiting his favorite cause, Sickle Cell Anemia, he does his best to convince her to give him another chance. It doesn’t take long for Cassidy to agree and they dance song after song after song, even though she is supposed to be covering the event as its official photographer.
Despite the interference of Brian’s actress ex-wife Shayla – to whom subtlety is a completely unknown concept – Brian and Cassidy manage to spend time together and fall in love. Their bliss is short-lived, however, when Cassidy undergoes a test for sickle cell anemia and she is told that she does, indeed, carry the trait. Heartbroken, she decides to break things off with Brian, also a carrier, and when he conveniently spots her giving a goodbye kiss to Damon (yep, the same one who got someone else preggers) Cassidy doesn’t disabuse him of the notion that she is still in love with Damon.
Brian chooses to honor his sister’s memory with his dedication to raise awareness for sickle cell anemia. He does seem a little too perfect, as Cassidy herself notes when he begins discussing a possible future very early on and says all the right things. Still, he is determined to earn her trust. His near miss with Shayla was the one sour note in his character, and I wished he’d been stronger where she was concerned.
Very little of what Cassidy did made sense to me. In her first meeting with Brian she automatically deduces that since he is a famous athlete he must be a ladies’ man. She agrees to give a farewell kiss to the man who cheated on her, and it never crosses her mind to talk to Brian, to tell him she also has the sickle cell anemia trait and that she is terrified about any children they might have and instead claims to love Damon. I feel that she should forever be grateful that it all worked out in the end.
Heroine issues aside, a big problem with Picture Perfect is just how completely despicable, petty and manipulative Shayla is. And how completely adorable and sweet and cute little Sandy (one of the kids from the volunteer project where Brian and Cassidy meet) is. And how trashy and vulgar and money-hungry Sandy’s mom Phyllis is. Sure, people like these three exist, but to have that many characters straight out of Central Casting hurt how I saw both Brian and Cassidy, who were more gently drawn. There was also some predictability, such as the coincidences Shayla takes advantage of to make Cassidy jealous, and the romance between two secondary characters.
The plot is interesting, however, and with less extravagant characters to overshadow the lead couple, this would have been a much better book. The prose was engaging and all in all, Picture Perfect could have been a much more engrossing read.