Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

What would make the perfect man?

That's the delicious topic heating up the proceedings at a certain table of professional women at their favorite restaurant, Ernie's, tonight: Mr. Perfect. What qualities would he have? Would he be tall, dark, and handsome? Caring and warmhearted -- or will just muscular do? Jaine Bright and her three girlfriends start off with the basics -- he'd be faithful and reliable, the responsible type, with a great sense of humor.

But as the conversation picks up momentum, so do the quartet's requirements for Mr. Perfect -- and they write down a tongue-in-cheek checklist that's both funny and racy. The next thing they know, the List, as it has come to be called, spreads like wildfire throughout their company and sizzles along e-mail lines. And it doesn't stop there: the List becomes an overnight sensation, grabbing the interest of local newspapers and television coverage. No one expected this avalanche of attention for something that began as a joke among friends. And the joke turns deadly serious when one of the four women is murdered...

The prime suspect in the case is the victim's boyfriend, who was one of a number of men who found the List sexist and offensive. But an impenetrable alibi gets him off the hook. Now, with the help of Jaine's neighbor, an unpredictable police detective, the puzzle must be solved -- and time is running out as a deadly stalker targets the three remaining friends. Now, knowing whom to trust and whom to love is a matter of survival -- as the dream of Mr. Perfect becomes a chilling nightmare. 

I picked this up at a used bookstore in Eastern Market a few weeks and truthfully when I bought it I had a 50/50 shot that I already owned. Thank goodness 1) I didn't own it, 2) I had never read it, 3) It's a really fantastic freaking book. The kind of book that reminds me why well written romantic suspense is such a great genre. 

First off the chemistry between Sam and Jaine is scorching. SCORCHING. They're not even a couple until the second half of the book but the way they argue and communicate beforehand is textbook example of why a little delayed gratification can be so rewarding. Jaine is not just going to jump into Sam's arms. Not only did she initially think that he was a drug dealer, but due to some particular bad days at work Sam was kind of acting like an ass. Jaine, being the strong character that she is, wasn't going to exactly let that slide. I think that's one of the first things that makes a romance really interesting, vivacious and independent characters who play off each other but also have their own lives.

Secondly, at least in regards to this particular book, the murder mystery was epically fantastic. I have to admit that I usually know who I'm supposed to be watching for within the first few chapters of the book, but while Howard lets me think at the beginning that I know what's going on - I actually have no idea. I'm not going to spoil it, but seriously the who-done-it in this one is very well done and something I won't be forgetting for a long time. Maybe I was just really susceptible to Howard's writing in this point and other readers might figure it out sooner, but I prefer to give Howard the benefit of the doubt and say she's crafted a grand game of clue.

Please read this book. It's a great, fast read that anyone, even some 'non-romance' readers, would enjoy.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up.

Series - None