Author: Julia Talbot
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (179 pages)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
Louis certainly isn’t perfect. He leaves his dirty towels on the floor. He doesn’t wash dishes. But mostly he shuts Avery out, refusing to let his lover in to his most private thoughts
So is it really any surprise that Avery leaves him to look for his perfect lover? Both Avery and Louis move on, getting their lives back together slow but sure, and learning that the qualities they thought they really wanted in a lover might not be so great after all.
Perfect is the tale of how these two hot headed, stubborn men come back together, learning to work at what they have, finally realizing that love doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed To Hell You Ride by Julia Talbot (review here), I decided to give one of her contemporary novels a go to see if I enjoyed it as much. Although not quite a five star read, this was definitely entertaining and deserves a positive recommendation.
The blurb, for a change, is absolutely perfect and completely sums up the story in a nutshell. Sure, it gives away the ending, but that really isn’t a surprise. The story isn’t about whether Louis and Avery will get back together, but rather, the process they go through in doing so.
The story opens with a prologue. Louis and Avery are having a fight—a really stupid fight—and Avery ends it by saying, “That’s it, I’m leaving,” and does. When the story proper starts, it’s a few weeks later. Louis has had rotator cuff surgery—one of the things he hadn’t talked to Louis about. Avery calls to see if he is okay; Louis lets the call go to the message machine and doesn’t call back. Repeat the scenario one week later. Avery gets the hint and decides he has to figure out how to move on. So does Louis.
For six months, they don’t interact. Avery begins a relationship with a real estate developer named Gordon; Louis starts dating Kyle, a 21 year old college student. They both keep trying to convince themselves that they are happy but it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t.
Then, a coincidence: they both sign up for the same small business accounting class at the local community college. This gives them the chance to interact on neutral ground and begin the slow process of rediscovering their love for each other.
The story takes place over a year and the pacing really allows the reader to feel the anxiety and pain of their time apart. Louis and Avery are both stubborn and it takes time for both of them to learn that they need to bend a little to be able to forge a solid relationship. Their characters are very well written. I could easily picture Avery, hoping that his southern charm would soothe everything and make the hurt go away. Louis presented a solid façade to the world, hiding his vulnerability and the fact that his heart was totally shattered when Avery left. It was very clear that it was a terrible struggle for him to decide to offer up his heart and run the risk of having it be broken again..
In addition to Louis and Avery, the secondary characters, including Kyle, Gordon, and Avery’s mother Esther were very three-dimensional and added a great deal of depth and complexity to the story. Esther was the quintessential southern woman and her support of both Avery and Louis, even when they were apart, was great. Kyle was sweet and funny and when it seemed like the story might get a little bit too angsty, he would pop up to add a necessary bit of humor. And Gordon? Well, let’s just say I’ve known a few Gordons over the years, and I didn’t like them in real life, either.
All in all, a good book that I can recommend. Talbot has a folksy writing style that I enjoy, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. For me, it worked well and fit the characters and the story. My only (minor) complaint is that the ending dragged on a little bit. I would have liked it wrapped up slightly differently and ended it maybe a chapter sooner. It wasn’t a bad ending, it just wasn’t perfect, which, in thinking about it, probably fits well with the theme of the book.
NB: Louis and Avery are apart for a good chunk of the story and in that time, they are both having sex with their new boyfriends. This didn’t bother me but I bring it up because I know that some readers object to the “one true pairing” characters (in this case, Avery and Louis) being intimate with other people. Personally, I find that opinion to not be reflective of real life, but I mention it for those readers who would be turned off by this and appreciate a warning.