Saturday, March 17, 2018

Perfect by Felice Stevens

Despite multiple degrees and business success, in his heart Jeremy Strauss feels he’s never measured up. While he hasn’t lacked for men or women to share his bed, Jeremy has yet to find someone who sees beyond his muscles and perfect smile. Taking it slow with a lover isn’t how he operates, but something about the shy accountant he rescues in a snowstorm makes him want this time to be different. So what if Blake drops little comments here and there about Jeremy’s pretty face? Their relationship is perfect.

Or is it?

Lonely most of his life, Blake Myers is as careful with his heart as he is with a balance sheet. The last thing he expects is for a man like Jeremy to fall for him, and he can't help but wait for the bubble to burst on their relationship. When the stress of a professional crisis turns personal, Blake sees the perfect relationship he and Jeremy have built start to crumble. Caught in an ever-tightening web of lies, rather than wait for Jeremy to leave him, Blake breaks it off and vanishes.

Perfection is an illusion.

Jeremy doesn’t know which way to turn and for the first time in his life, he’s lost and uncertain. Believing he’s no longer the man Jeremy needs, Blake sinks deeper into despair. Both men struggle with secrets, lies, and hurtful memories until they are forced to look inside their hearts and learn the truth—that love is perfectly imperfect.

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Book 4
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars of imperfect perfect

This is the fourth in a series of interconnected stories, which have overlaps, but also stand well on their own. We met Jeremy in Noah's story, and he definitely deserved a happily ever after too.

There is a lovely story in this book, as well as one of men trying and failing to live up to the expectations that they believe others have for them. Inevitably this means that they both spend rather a lot of time in their heads, and not communicating very well how they feel. They do show their feelings with their bodies, but they do not trust that to be true and overanalyse everything. I have to admit that after a while, I did not need telling again about Jeremy's belief that his mother favoured Noah, or that Blake's insecurities were because his father belittled him as a child. They both had people on their side, in addition to each other, and as the story goes to show, maybe some of it is worth putting behind you.

As someone who has worked in that kind of corporate world, I did think it was horribly well written, as was the much lighter and fun work environment of Hard Core.

Thankfully, there is a happy ending to the story, and they both pull themselves together and redeem themselves in their own as well as each other's eyes, which is good news. I think I would have liked it to have happened a bit sooner, and to have had the chance to enjoy them moving forward together.

I usually enjoy books by this author but this one just missed the mark for me. I just couldn't connect with the characters no matter how hard I tried. I was doing okay until halfway through the book and then I thought "is this book over yet?" I could just tell what Blake was going to do and I was screaming "don't do it." I felt bad for Jeremy and how everyone saw him as all muscle and no brains, it is something that happens a lot. I think both of these characters needed therapy and more self-confidence. I am sure others will love this book, it just wasn't for me and I will still read books by this author because every story is different.

This was a painfully slow read for me. The plot structure and pacing felt off from the start. The romance between Blake and Jeremy happens early in the first quarter of the book. It’s a pretty conventional New York courtship – full of questioning and self-doubt. The next three quarters of the story is full of self-induced misery, messy secrets, poor communication, and a whole lot of sulking and brooding. And then there’s a resolution tacked on at the end.

Neither Blake nor Jeremy is a conventional romance hero. And while I usually enjoy quirky men in romance, I didn’t actually like either of these two men. Blake is geeky, unassuming, and struggling with a poor self-image. To compensate, he allows half-truths that make him feel more worthy – but the half-truths soon become complete lies... Urgh. Jeremy is a gym owner and bodybuilder who gets upset when people mention his looks. So he spends hours bodybuilding every day – perfecting his physique to help sell his gym – yet he doesn’t want anyone commenting on his looks and worries that the people around him think he’s a dumb jock. Urgh again. These guys just aren’t terribly sympathetic characters!

I had some sympathy for Blake and his grim work life but I’m not sure how he justifies keeping secrets from the people he professes to love. Because the courtship between Blake and Jeremy happens in record time, it is hard to know if there is ever actually anything more than sexual attraction and convenient proximity between them. By the end of this story, I was out of patience with both men and not completely convinced they were going to make it as a couple.

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, my characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love.

I live in New York City with my husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of my own. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

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ARC Provided by

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Perfect (Soulmates #4) by Felice Stevens to read and review.

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