2015 Reading Challenge – Book #13 – Too Perfect

Book #13 – A trilogy – Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon (Perfect Trilogy #3)
Preceded by: Almost Perfect and Just Perfect
Genre: Romance/Chick Lit
Published: 2005
Country: USA

Too Perfect - Julie Ortolon
I was more interested in reading this last installment of the trilogy than the previous two. In fact, the first one was nothing great at all and I completely skipped the second book. Luckily, these can be read as stand alone books too so this was not a problem.

The premise of this trilogy is as such: Three best friends – Maddy, Christine and Amy – in their early thirties, get very miffed when they find out that their very successful old college flat mate has used them as examples in her best-selling book How to Have a Perfect Life of people who did not face their fears and settled for less. The three make a pact amongst themselves that they would prove their friend wrong by doing the very things that scare them and complete them in a year’s time.

This third installment tells the story of sensible and cautious Amy who has a fear of travelling and getting lost due to her complete lack of sense of direction. To overcome her fear, she takes a job as a travelling nanny on a cruise for two weeks, only she gets fired from her job and stranded on the island of St.Barts with practically no money and no spare clothes. Desperation drives her to take up a job as a housekeeper in an old fort on a hill for four weeks – two extra weeks than her original intended duration.

At the fort, she meets a drop-dead handsome, charming and flamboyant Frenchman Lance Beaufort, who introduces himself as the personal assistant of the recent owner of the fort Guy Gaspar. Lance tells Amy that Gaspar is a recluse who prefers not to mingle with anybody and is known as La Bête or The Beast by locals. The only rule that Amy has to follow is to stay away from Gaspar’s quarters on top of the tower.

While Lance’s sunny personality provides Amy with friendship and companionship, it is Gaspar’s mysterious presence, only in the form of a voice that piques Amy’s interest. She strikes up a friendship with Gaspar via email and an intercom system set up in Lance’s office where they discuss everything from movies to books to self-esteem issues. Amy finds in Gaspar a kindred spirit who she believes is hiding from the world due to his disfigured or less than perfect face.

However, unbeknownst to Amy and everyone else in the world, Lance and Gaspar are the alter egos of the same man – Hollywood billionaire Byron Parks who is hiding from his artificial life under a suitable disguise as Lance in order to step away from the limelight and figure out who he is and what he really stands for.

A modern retelling of The Beauty and the Beast, I found this book to be quite charming and well-written. The characterizations of both Byron and Amy were nicely sketched. Amy, who has grown up believing that she is a fat, frumpy woman, hides behind loose garments that don’t do her beauty any justice and Byron who has grown up in the superficial world of Hollywood his whole life, has been left emotionless because of his public image. Byron (or Gaspar) helps Amy with feeling good about her body image while Amy’s shy, sweet nature helps him feel something again. As much as Amy tries to convince Gaspar to reveal the face behind the voice, Byron fears he can never show himself to her without hurting her with his deception.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was different conceptually from the usual clichéd romance novels and I liked the author’s spin on the classic fairytale. It was fun to imagine three different characterizations of the same person and the role each character played in Amy’s life. Lance who was fun-loving and charismatic, Gaspar who was generous and kind, and Byron who couldn’t figure out which one of the two he really was or if he was someone completely different.

I did have a few “Seriously, are you kidding me?” moments in the book though. The part where Amy and Gaspar decide to act on their physical attraction for one another in complete darkness (at Gaspar’s request) apparently carries on for two or three weeks straight! Although she tries hard to get him to come out of his shell and reveal himself to her, I found this little scenario a very strange situation indeed. How was she not able to feel even the slightest bit suspicious the whole time?

Despite a couple of these oddities, it was all in all an enjoyable read. I will definitely give it a thumbs-up.

Book Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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