The Perfect Family
Carla Cassidy’s The Perfect Family reads like a stretched out series romance. It has several series romance elements – most notably a small town setting and a pair of re-united lovers. It’s a pleasant enough read but it’s nothing truly memorable.
Marissa Jamison is beginning to feel something like her old self again. About a year ago, her fireman husband John was killed. He didn’t die in the line of duty; instead he was run over in a grocery parking lot and his killer has never been found. Marissa runs a lamp and antique store, and with the help of her kind in-laws takes care of her two children.
After a ballgame, Marissa has a slight run-in with a trashy drunken woman in the parking lot. Later, the woman is found dead with a red bow on her head and a card that reads, To Marissa, Love Blake on it. When the detectives come calling, Marissa is as puzzled as they are.
Alex Kincaid and Marissa used to be high school sweethearts. Alex just moved to Cass Creek where Marissa lives and they bump into each other. Alex never married and when he finds out Marissa is a widow, he asks her out. After a slight bit of soul searching, Marissa accepts and they find they are still attracted to each other. Soon they are lovers and plan to marry, and all seems well.
But Marissa is plagued by mysterious phone calls, and then an unpleasant man who insulted her and her son in the park is killed. also left with a red bow on his head and a card to Marissa on his body.
The identity of the killer did surprise me, but that’s about all that did. Just take your favorite series romance, one that has a romantic suspense sub-plot, and supersize it. Add a secondary romance between the detectives who are investigating the murders, add several scenes where Marissa goes out on a date with Alex, throw in some scenes where Marissa, Alex and the kids get to know each other, sprinkle in some love scenes and a few police procedure details, and voila – a full length novel.
Marissa and Alex are nice enough characters, but there is no conflict between them and not much chemistry either. Alex comes into town, Marissa wrestles with her conscience for a micro-second, and then they pick up where they left off years ago. Alex gets along with her kids, he’s still handsome and buff, he’s nice, he’s perfect. He’s just not very interesting, and neither is Marissa.
The two detectives who investigate the killer are much more interesting as a couple than Marissa and Alex. They are rough around the edges, they have conflicts between them, and they’re not a perfect pair. Marissa and Alex are – which made them pretty dull. The killer is a creepy psycho who is obsessed with Marissa and wants her so he can have a perfect family. He’s laid his plans carefully, but like all good villains he does something stupid at the end, something that allows the good guys to find him. The last chapter, which is told from the villain’s point of view, is creepy and chilling.
If you want a romantic suspense that offers no more than a fast read, you’ll probably like The Perfect Family. As for me, I like mine with more grit. I don’t like books were the main couple fight all through it only to declare their love on the last page, but books like this one, were there is practically no conflict between the couple, are just plain boring.