Just Perfect
by Julie Ortolon, contemporary (2005)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-21688-1


Just Perfect is a decent and pretty entertaining read apart from one fatal flaw: the hero behaves with an immaturity that does not bode well for the longevity of his relationship with the heroine, especially when the heroine is a trauma specialist (read: long hours away at work and all the associated baggages).

Christine Ashton, our heroine, realizes that it's time to change her life a little when she learns that a former college roommate has used her as an example in this woman's bestselling motivational book as a woman who let her fears held her back in life. Christine is afraid of heights so she's now determined to overcome that fear and ski to her heart's content at Silver Mountain, Colorado. Love comes in the form of resident ski instructor/bum Alec Hunter. But can these two reconcile their different outlooks in life to find some kind of common ground for the happily ever after? This is pretty much the story really.

I like Christine. Usually in romance novels, heroines like Christine who aren't bridal gown makers or schoolteachers will usually be taken to task for daring to pursue a career over more "feminine" obligations like cooking for the man and giving birth to his kids. Here, Christine is allowed to keep her job in the big city without being made to feel like a complete creep who has betrayed her gender in the process. Okay, the hero attempts to do this to her, but Christine and Ms Ortolon both will not stand for such nonsense so the fact that Christine is allowed to keep both her man and her career is a pleasant and welcome surprise here. While Christine does fall into the romance novel heroine trap of treating flirtation or even a fling as if these are the same as a long-term commitment (hence her initial reluctance to entertain Alec's overtures), but she also has a pretty normal attitude about sex. She can have sex without acting as if lightning will strike her dead come the morning after.

Alec, on the other hand, is a failure as a romance hero. Now, Ms Ortolon is aware of many of his failings and she happily puts Alec through the emotional grinder late in the story, but it's not enough, in my opinion, to redeem Alec. Alec is a hypocrite who is completely oblivious to the laughable stupidity of him insisting that his job at the ski lodge - preventing rich folks from slamming into a tree, that kind of thing - is more important than Christine's job. He also has the nerve to act as if Christine is betraying their "true love" (of three weeks or so) by refusing to drop her life back home and move in with him. Throughout all this, he is a penniless goon who depends on friends and strangers to pay his meals and he acts like a creepy stalker who can't take no for an answer. In short, this guy behaves like a typical self-absorbed fool who happened to overlook the fact that he's no longer a teenager in some kind of spring break vacation.

Therefore, even though Alec conveniently comes to just in time to realize what an ass he is to Christine in order for the happy ending to take place, I'm not convinced that he and Christine are meant to be. She's a doctor who will be working in the ER at a busy hospital. I can only imagine how Alec would deal with a wife who not only earns more money than he ever will but also works long hours away from home. My bet is that he will be immature enough to throw a petty tantrum about how selfish the wife is, start sleeping with some woman he meets at some low-paying job he manages to find, get kicked out of the house by Christine, and return to Silver Mountain within a month to complain for the next twenty years about heartless bitches who care more about their work than their husbands.

Just Perfect is an otherwise decent romance with a heroine who for once doesn't make me feel as if I'm experiencing some kind of intellectual de-evolution while I'm reading the story. Unfortunately, I feel that the hero is the wrong person for the heroine and as a result, never once can I actually believe that those two are meant to be.

Rating: 73


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