His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected in Cecy Robson’s raw, steamy New Adult debut—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn.
Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.
Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.
As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.
ebook, 272 pages
Expected publication: October 7th 2014 by Flirt
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review.
Three and a half stars: A NA with great chemistry and some troubling issues.
Evelyn slinks past the bouncers on her way into the nightclub. To pay for school, Evelyn waitresses at a hip nightclub. Evelyn has no friends in the club and she keeps to herself, but on this night, one of the bouncers makes a sexually charged comment and he is immediately shut down by the lead bouncer, Mateo. Evelyn is shocked to hear him defend her because she has always been terrified of him. Mateo is muscular, tattooed and an ex con. Later, he rescues her when she is shut in the storage room in the dark. Then she learns the truth about his imprisonment, and she realizes how wrong she was to judge him based on appearance and perception. Soon Evelyn is falling for Mateo, but can their relationship work considering they come from completely different backgrounds and they both are carrying a great deal of baggage from the past?
What I Liked:
- I am a big fan of Cecy Robson's Weird Sisters Series, so I was anxious to see what she would turn out in the NA genre. Needless to say, I found this book sucked me in with its engaging characters, interesting story and a bit of mystery. It does, though, follow the typical NA theme of two individuals with troubling pasts coming together, falling in love and healing. So if you are a fan of this type of NA read, you will like this one.
- Mateo and Evelyn are top notch protagonists. I was immediately drawn to both of them. Evelyn is the shy, once privileged white girl who lost everything thanks to her fathers crimes and death. These days, she is working her way through nursing school, trying to keep her head down and find her way again. Mateo is all kinds of sexy. I loved him! He puts on the big, tough guy exterior, but underneath he's gentle, kind and compassionate. I love that he is always looking after his sisters and mother, and the way he took Evelyn under his wing melted my heart. I liked him even more once I knew more about his troubling past, and how he fought to constantly rise above it. Both of these characters have terrific chemistry when they come together, and I like that they have to fight to maintain their relationship. They both have their flaws and secrets. I appreciated that they were realistic and likable.
- The entire cast of secondary characters is terrific. I liked all the players, and I was more impressed with the entire cast. Ms. Robson certainly knows how to write excellent characters.
- The romance is perfectly paced. It starts out as a hesitant friendship before moving into a strong attraction. I liked how it took its time to build, and I especially loved how considerate and patient Mateo was toward Evelyn regarding sex. There are ups and downs and growing pains, but in the end, I liked how it all worked out. No love triangle or unnecessary romantic drama, the roadblocks they encounter are not small, petty issues added in for dramatic purposes. I thought this was one of the better NA romances I have read.
- There is, of course, lots of sex in this one, but I found the sex scenes to be just right. They were descriptive but they didn't go on and on and they didn't cross the too much information line. Nor did they overtake the story.
- I was surprised that there was a bit of mystery in this one. Evelyn suffers from panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety, but she is uncertain as to the cause of her problems. As the book progresses, there are clues dropped that indicate something horrible happened to Evelyn but she can't remember what. Once the ugly truth comes out, it is heartbreaking and terrible. However, I liked the way it was handled since Evelyn got the appropriate help for her problems. Ms. Robson takes on a very touchy and troubling topic, and I thought she handled it well.
- The ending ties up most of the loose ends regarding Evelyn and Mateo, and I so appreciated after the turmoil and struggles that things ended on a positive note. I do have some unanswered questions, and I am expecting them to be followed up on in the next book.
And The Not So Much:
- If you are looking for something unique with this NA book, you will be disappointed. Unfortunately, this one follows what is becoming the norm for NA. It features two individuals with loads of emotional baggage, coming together, falling in love and healing. Even though I was engaged in the story and drawn to the characters, I couldn't help feel a touch let down that this one didn't break out of the worn out NA tropes.
- As much as I adored Mateo, I struggled with his behavior at the end. He, his sisters and mother have been abused repeatedly by their monstrous father. Due to cultural expectations, Mateo refuses to stand up against his father. I hated that everyone just stood by and watched the abuse. I don't understand these customs and cultural differences, and I hated that in that community the abuse was overlooked. I wanted them all to take a stand. Abuse is ugly and no one should ever have to endure it, cultural expectations be damned. It was tough to for me to read about this.
- There were several story lines and issues left unresolved at the end, especially regarding Mateo's sisters. Lety's portion leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I wanted to know more. Luckily, I found that the next book: Once Loved, releasing early 2015, is all about Lety and Brodie. I thought this couple was adorable and I can't wait for more.
- The issues touched upon are not easy to read about, there is sexual, physical and emotional abuse along with anger issues and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is definitely a book that is suited for older readers due to the mature content. I appreciated that in the author's note, Ms. Robson provides resources for those who might be in a similar situation.
Once Perfect was a book that drew me in with its engaging characters and interesting storyline. I loved the romance, but I struggled with the way some of the abuse was handled. Like it or not, this book takes on real issues that many people struggle with every day. This is a well written, realistic NA book for those who like books that tackle tough topics. Even though this one followed the worn out NA themes, I enjoyed it, and I will be continuing the series as I have to know what happens next.
"The way I see it, if you have someone calling you Daddy, you've gotta man up and be everything to that kid."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.