FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Wordsmith Publicity.
When football player Austin Lawson ends things with his supermodel girlfriend, he never expects a heavily edited video showing him in the worst possible light to go viral. And with the public now up in arms, his career is in almost as much trouble as his reputation. Heading home to Jessamine is supposed to be his chance to begin working on his image, and a girl-next-door elementary school teacher just might be the perfect solution.
Harper Bell is used to being overlooked in favor of her beautiful cousins, but while she may not be devastated by her lack of dating life, there are some in her extended family who won’t let her forget just how disappointing she is. When professional football player Austin Lawson comes back to town and volunteers at the school, Harper tries to keep her attraction to him under wraps. But the more time they spend together, the closer she comes to being completely head over heels.
The Verdict: I’m usually pretty judgmental when it comes to stories that center around some dark secret or ulterior motive, and I was afraid that Love So Perfect was going to take my enjoyment of the series down a notch. But Marquita Valentine has a way of spinning a romantic tale in such a way that even a romance novel standard like the big bad secret feels like a fresh idea.
Austin isn’t one of those jerks we’re used to meeting in romances, those guys that pick some poor, unsuspecting woman to con into reviving a career or saving a business deal. Yes, he has every intention of salvaging his reputation, and that’s exactly why he volunteers in Harper’s class, but he doesn’t really set out to lead her on. It’s more of a lucky coincidence in his mind; he likes her well enough, and the fact that the public would love to see him with someone like her is just a bonus. And let’s not forget that he’s one of the Lawson boys. Even at their worst, they’re still gentlemen.
Harper is a sweet, small town girl who teaches at the local school and doesn’t have much of a social life. But while she may not be overly experienced in dating and romance, she’s not exactly a wallflower. She’s also *gasp* older than Austin by a few years, and the fact that the age difference doesn’t even land on Austin’s radar just shows how right he is for her. His attention is such a surprise to her, though, that she doesn’t even recognize it at first, and when it does become clear that he’s interested in her, she shows her spunky side by going along for the ride, despite her surprise and reservations.
Obviously, the conflict arises when Austin’s secret motives come to light — if that’s not to be expected, then you haven’t read much in the way of romance novels. But in Love So Perfect, it plays out a little differently than I expected, and it just goes to show how well-developed Valentine’s characters are. The scenario might seem pretty typical for romance, but Valentine’s take on it is just different enough, with strong and likable characters, to stand out. Love So Perfect is another great piece to the series, and you’re definitely missing out if you don’t read them all!