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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

The Best of Friends

Finding Perfect - Susan Mallery I really liked this book.

It is interesting because I don't think a lot of romance novel reading purists would actually like it as a romance novel. It borders on women's fiction even though there is a clear, centered love story with a defined H/h and a HEA. But what makes this book so darned interesting to me and probably why it might not be classified as pure romance is the weight given to all the stuff that is going on around the romance plot.

Jayne Scott is the main character and her life is inextricably entwined with the the wealthy Worden clan. Her best friend is Rebecca the rebellious daughter who has a hate/resentment relationship with her mother, Elizabeth. Jayne has always had a major crush on the eldest Worden son, Daniel. He is the super handsome golden boy who is the apple of his mother's eye. Blaine Worden is the benign head of the family. He has a soft spot for Jayne and is generally amiable. And then there is Elizabeth. She is the steely-eyed, society conscious, snobbish matriarch.

When Jayne was just a teenager, her own mother, a housekeeper to a neighbor of the Worden's died quickly and left Jayne alone, homeless and penniless. The Worden's took her in and she and Rebecca became fast friends. A lot of the texture of the book is about the shifting relationships between the Wordens themselves and with Jayne.

The book starts out very light and amusingly with both Rebecca and Daniel returning home both having lived abroad for many years. Both of them have their own reasons for coming back to LA. Jayne is just thrilled to see her best friend again and a little squirmy to know that the object of her long time unrequited lust/love is back home to stay. Their return sets off a series of family revelations.

So as I was reading I was really expecting a very simple contemporary romance. But about 2/3 of the way through a shift happens in the book. The characters, especially Rebbecca, become a bit deeper, more problematic and more intriguing. The drama ratchets up. The lightness disappears. The romance has more resonance and urgency. At first I was a bit jarred, thinking it was a bit of a bait and switch. But the more I read the more I realized that the earlier, lighter tone of the book was just that.. a tone. The groundwork for the characters and their later motivations had been laid. I just hadn't been paying attention.

I liked the trajectory of the romance. Daniel finally notices Jayne. He has a lot more substance than we are first led to believe. He was a great hero and I enjoyed the way he and Jayne were able to communicate.

Elizabeth is the villain of the book. And she is the great weakness of the book because she is a bit of a cardboard. It was very easy to hate her because she had no redeeming. But I enjoyed the positioning of her and Jayne's relationship in the larger picture because it added to the drama in a big way.

Rebecca is probably the most fascinating character study. She, more than any other character, embodies the my feeling of the flow of the story -- starting out one way and ending up another. I really had to think about this character as I closed the book.

The ending of the book was a bit abrupt. I turned the page and expected another chapter but didn't get it. I do expect that given he ending, we may see Rebbecca's story forthcoming. I would be very interested to read it.