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review 2019-06-13 10:29
An American-Latina Cinderella story and a whirlwind soap opera
The Perfect Date - Holly L Lorincz,Evelyn Lozada

I thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s (MacMillan) for providing me an early ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Although I don’t normally look at the reviews of a book in detail before I read it (I do to decide if I’m interested in reading the book or not, but I don’t want to spoil my enjoyment), because I update my current reading on several book sites, I can’t help but see what the general ratings for the book I’m about to start reading look like. Let me tell you I was alarmed when I saw how many 1 star reviews this book had. I was even more concerned because, based on the description, I had agreed to participate in a Blog tour, and I was worried about having made a serious mistake and having to vow out of it. Luckily, I enjoyed the book (yes, it’s far from perfect, but I wasn’t expecting perfection), and I wonder if having read the reviews and getting a clear idea of what had upset other readers didn’t prepare me for what was to come and helped me not go into it with false expectations.

The cover, I think, can make people expect a “sweet” or “cute” romance. Well, that, it is not. The description hints at the personality of Angel (perhaps more accurately than that of Duke, whom many readers didn’t like at all), but readers might have expected a more standard romance, where the romantic side of things is the main story. I agree with the readers who said this novel has a lot of “drama”. Oh, yes, it does. It is like a melodrama on steroids, rough around the edges, and it feels like a fairly extreme soap opera. People wear their hearts (and rage) on their sleeves, they don’t do stiff-upper-lip or measured emotions, and they throw themselves headlong into life. It might be because I’m Spanish and we are supposed to be “red-blooded” (what other colour our blood would be, I have no idea), “passionate”, and “hot tempered” and those attributes (I don’t think they are always helpful, but I refuse to call them defects) are also expected of Latinos in general, and because I’ve watched and enjoyed Central and South-American soap operas, but I did like the oomph of Angel, the main character, even if she was not always consistent (but hey, I’ve never found characters in romantic novels or chick-lit entirely consistent). In some ways, her part of the story has strong elements of women’s fiction, even if the style of writing is different. A young Puerto-Rican woman, a single mother from a young age, she’s had to fight against the odds to try to make a living for herself and her little boy, Jose, who unfortunately suffers from asthma. Working two jobs at the same time, studying all hours to get her nursing qualification, and relying on her friend Gabriela, the hairdresser with a heart of gold (the interaction between the women sometimes made me think of Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes, minus the Southern gentility), being subject to a #metoo kind of situation (well, more than one), she is pushed and pulled in all directions but tries to remain strong and keep her moral compass. Yes, she loses her cool every so often, but I cheered her on more than once.

Hers is a Cinderella story, indeed, one in a more soap operatic style than a gentle fairy tale (not that fairy tales are truly gentle), with over the top villains who seem to be villains just because they are (no justification or exploration of the baddies. In olden times, I’m sure one of them would have worn a big moustache he’d twirl, and the other one would have been a proper witch), and where Cinderella is far from the passive and pretty young girl just waiting for the prince to come rescue her (she actually kicks him out more than once). The love interest, Caleb, “The Duke”, has his own Cinderella story, as they share in their humble origins (although he is African-American rather than Puerto-Rican), but he’s now living the aftermath of the Cinderella story, and realising that the people who surround him are not true friends, and money cannot buy the really important things. Many readers say he is not likeable because he thinks only of himself (well, yes, mostly, although he shows concern for Angel’s boy, puts his own career at risk for him, and he is also outraged when he reads about the lack of appropriate asthma treatment for children from diverse ethnic background). We do learn about his circumstances, he is put through the wringer in the novel, and his character bears some resemblance to the rakes readers of Georgian and Victorian literature are so fond of. (Perhaps he lacks some of the charm, but that might be in part because we see him from his own point of view at times, rather than what tends to happens with the rogues, who tend to remain attractive, mysterious and dangerous men, whose motivations we know little about). He helps save the day in the end, and, although he will not rate among my favourite male protagonists, he isn’t the worst either.

The book includes many side-stories —I’ve mentioned the issue of the lack of treatments for Jose, and the novel makes a serious point about the lack of investment in research, by the pharmaceutical companies, of appropriate treatment for diverse populations. Yes, we are not all young white males and our bodies do not respond the same as theirs to the medication; and we also have difficult family relations, grief, sexual harassment, alcohol and drug abuse… — and it is set in the world of sports (baseball), and of celebrity culture. Considering Lozada’s credentials, I am not surprised she has a lot to say on the subject, and the baseball players’ wives (a bit like the footballers’ wives in other countries) interactions rang true. There are comedic moments, although they are far from subtle and some people might not find them funny, but if you let yourself go along for the ride and get into the spirit of it, this is a fun read, touching and inspiring as well.

The book is narrated in the third-person, alternating the points of view of Angel and The Duke. As I said, I read an early ARC copy of the novel, and I noticed readers complained about there not being a clear distinction between the one point of view and the other, but expect this will have been corrected in the final version of the novel, as will, I hope, some awkward Spanish phrasing at the beginning of the book.

Although this is not a standard romantic novel, the ending does live up to the genre (wish-fulfilment and all) and yes, I enjoyed it. If you’re easily offended or are looking for a genteel and/or gentle romance, this is not the book for you. I’d recommend reading through the sample and being prepared for a full-on whirlwind soap, that stretches the limits of credibility (and for some, perhaps, of good taste), and mixes a lot of other genres. If all that doesn’t scare you, give it a go! It will be a wild ride!

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text 2019-06-01 22:36
The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert
The Perfect Arrangement: An October Wedding Story (A Year of Weddings Novella Book 11) - Katie Ganshert

Amelia Woods - Karen Gillan

Nate Gallagher - John Krasinski

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review 2019-05-28 14:28
Nice Blend of Science Fiction and Suspense
The Perfect Wife - J.P. Delaney

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley for free. This did not affect my rating or review.


So, I was pretty vocal about how badly I disliked "The Girl Before." So you are probably wondering what in the world caused me to willingly pick out "The Perfect Wife" to review. Well, I heard that it had a lot of science fiction elements in it and since I want to read more science fiction this year I decided to go for it. I initially thought it was going to be something superficial, but Delaney works in the science fiction aspects very well. I am a bit disappointed though that other reviewers gave away the jaw dropping beginning (don't do that!) though was happy I was unspoiled for the rest of this. "The Perfect Wife" does a great job of showing Abbie before when she first meets her husband Tim and then what life is like now that she has waken up. The only reason why I didn't give this five stars is that parts of the book dragged here and there. Also, I wish that we had some confirmations on some loose threads that Delaney left dangling.

 

"The Perfect Wife" follows a woman named Abbie. She wakes up in a room and is told that five years ago she was in an accident, and the man that is looming over her is her husband Tim. Abbie quickly finds out she is ready to go home with her husband Tim who she barely remembers. Abbie's memories slowly start to come back and she remembers that Tim is a CEO of a company focused on developing cobots (companion robots) and he is up there with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in terms of money and influence in the tech industry. Abbie also realizes that she and Tim had a son together, Danny. Danny was diagnosed with Heller's disease (FYI, this is a childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) and is a rare pervasive developmental disorder which involves regression of developmental ability in language, social function and motor skills) and worries that her son won't remember her and she is scared that her being away/sick has caused his condition to worsen. However, Abbie returns to her home and finds it pretty much unchanged from when she was there last. And after a while Abbie starts to find clues that things were not all champagne and roses with Tim.

 

So first off. We have after Abbie (who we get to follow via first person point of view) and before Abbie (who we only hear about via an anonymous narrator). You realize right away why there are differences between Abbie before and after. Abbie before seems more confident and all of the dialogue showing how she was when she was first hired by Tim to be an artist in residence at his company showed a woman who was not going to be bowled over by anyone. Slowly though via the Abbie before and after you start to get a better picture of Abbie and also of Tim. Abbie is warned here and there about Tim who starts to do what he can to attract Abbie and start to date her. You are left with two people who it sounds like fell in love and then got dealt a terrible hand when their son was diagnosed with Heller. However, that's just a small part of the story. I can't really get into this character much without spoiling, but I thought the way that Delaney handled Abbie was very good. I had sympathy for both versions that we are shown and loved how it ended.

 

Tim is a typical tech bro that seems to have softened up when he met and fell in love with Abbie. It seems that Tim only sees Abbie as perfect, she's the perfect wife and mother. He doesn't see anything wrong with her at all.

 

We also get a lot of secondary characters that I thought were developed very well. We have Abbie after interacting with Tim's best friend who also works at the company (Mark), Mark's wife Jenny (who also works for Tim), Abbie's sister Lisa, and Danny's therapist that seems to party live in and take care of him. 

 

The writing I thought was good. I was initially worried when we went back and forth, but I see why Delaney did that. You also have the narrator becoming more and more omnipotent about things after a while and you realize why that is at the end. Delaney also did a good job with talking about and showing how the tech industry even years in the future still has a whole dude bro culture that needs changed. I also thought it was great that Delaney showed us the answer to a certain extent about do androids dream of electric sheep. 


The flow was a bit clunky at first, but quickly smooths it way out. I think it's just because we have that reveal very early in the story and then we jump back in time to when Abbie was first hired by Tim and then we jump forward again. After a while I got used to it.

 

The ending was heartbreaking and unexpected. I liked it though we are given a clue that there's a cycle that is going to get repeated until someone finally puts a stop to it. 

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review 2019-05-26 15:06
Nine Perfect Strangers (Already Reviewed)
Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty,Caroline Lee

Review is here.  Also, bite me, Booklikes.

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text 2019-05-25 18:28
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Perfect Wife - J.P. Delaney

Head and shoulders above "The Girl Before" that's for sure. I

 

thought that Delaney did a great job with this one and for once you had the overall mystery (what happened to Abbie) slowly becomes revealed. I have to say at first I didn't know if I could get into the plot. But I was able to. We follow Abbie newly awaken to a world in which she wants to set right again with her husband and their lives. And then we have a mysterious narrator telling us the story of Abbie and Tim before they were married. At first things seem slightly fairy tale-ish, but you realize that there's some definite darkness here and there in the story. I felt for Abbie a lot.

 

I also loved the secondary characters we get to know here and there. I wish that we could have had more time with some of them like Jenny, but I realize that Delaney wanted the slow build-up to continue and didn't want readers to be alerted to the ending. 

 

Delaney also did a great job tying in toxic masculinity and the tech world and how it still has a ways to go with women in the industry. Delaney has personal experiences with autism and I thought she looped that into the story very well with the secondary character of Danny.

 

The writing was good and I have to say that I enjoyed the parts where we learn the before story of TIm and Abbie before she became "the perfect mother." I thought the flow worked too. The chapters flowed into each other very well and I didn't feel disjointed switching back and forth. 


The ending was a surprise since I totally guessed wrong which is always nice. If an author can surprise you while reading, I always think of it as a nice bonus. 

 

I have a wedding this afternoon so won't be back online until way later I think. Have a happy Saturday!

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