Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon
Maddy, Christine, and Amy have come to support their best friend, Jane Redding, who has just recently published her first book, “How to Have a Perfect Life”. They are amazed and just super thrilled for Jane but are also a bit envious that Jane has somehow done what they have yet to do, which is to have the perfect life.
The three of them get to talking and of course being best friends, they are quick to point out the other’s fears and obstacles. They decide to risk it all after Jane’s success and use her book to propel them towards their own perfect lives. In this first book, which by the way this is a trilogy, Maddy Hills is the main character.
Maddy turned away from her first love, Joe, when she was in high school thanks to winning a full scholarship to an awesome art school. She didn’t look back or regret her choice either. At least, that’s what she tells herself every day. After meeting an accountant and marrying him, she suffers through his slow death thanks to cancer. In the midst of caring for him and making sure his business was always a constant success, she ended up turning away from her passion of art.
Now, Maddy and her two best friends make a bet with each other to find their perfect life. Maddy’s side of the bet involves getting her art into a gallery. To begin, she accepts a position at a youth camp. The only problem is her high school sweetheart that she turned away from runs the camp. She broke his heart years ago when she put her life, her passion for art, and her independence ahead of him, turning him down when he proposed.
She is terrified at the idea of seeing him again, but she can’t back out now. Not when she’s already accepted the position, drove down there, and of course, there is the bet she made. No, Maddy isn’t the kind to back down from getting what she wants, which is the perfect life. Only Maddy learns, sometimes having an almost perfect life is better than having the perfect life.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Julie Ortolon grabs the reader with the first page and really develops her characters in a pace that isn’t too slow and isn’t too hurried. The book reads well and you really become attached to the journey of Maddy’s ups and downs as she fights to achieve her dreams. The book is fun, sexy, and makes you want to grab your besties and make your own bet in hopes of obtaining your own almost perfect life.
The story plot is excellent. It is a unique plot which isn’t an easy task to achieve these days. Finding an author who can spin a new tale is an achievement of its own and Julie does that quite well. I am not an avid art lover nor do I know much about it but Julie crafts Maddy’s passion for painting and thrusts the reader into the world of art galleries in a manner that is solid and yet welcoming but the it doesn’t overwhelm the true plot of the story. The summer youth camp aspect was done just as well, the camp counselors fun and their point in the story served its purpose efficiently.
The characters are realistic and the reader can’t help but fall in love with them. The closer Maddy and Joe grow mingled with the frustrations over the past forcing them to part again are very realistic. This is not a ‘girl swoons all over boy and boy and girl kiss and make up and forget all about how girl did boy wrong’ tale. No, Joe is pissed and still very resentful over how he was done wrong and the fights between the two are definitely heated and very realistic. (So are the steamy make-up scenes!)
There were many fine points that I really liked about Almost Perfect. The psychological aspects of emotional relationships really perked my senses throughout this book. When I read something that’s not fantasy I want the characters to be REAL. And Julie did that to the max! What I liked the most about Julie’s novel though, is how she incorporated Maddy’s best friends throughout the story. She set them in places and gave them just enough notice and background to create the urge for me to want to go dive straight into book two and three. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Book Two and Book Three ARE already available! You can read them or wait for my reviews for the rest of the series: Just Perfect and Too Perfect
Why not a perfect 10? I did feel that some scenes, a very minuscule amount, were a little slow and long drawn out. That’s the only negative thing I could come up with regarding this novel, which says a lot. A clean novel, though sex is involved I’d feel comfortable putting it in my teenager’s hands because there is nothing erotic or disheveled or remotely icky about it. Kudos to Julie for keeping it real and keeping it clean.