The Perfect Neighbor
by Nora Roberts, contemporary (1999)
Silhouette Special Edition, $4.25, ISBN 0-373-242328-7


How much do you adore creative bad boys? Your answer will determine how much you will enjoy The Perfect Neighbor, because the hero is an ass all the way to almost the last page. Because he is gorgeous and supposedly talented, however, that makes him an eccentric wunderkind rather than, say, a jerk. You will either find Preston McQuinn a jerk or a misunderstood genius.

You see, Preston has once been cheated on by the woman he believes to be in love with, and since that woman is angling on using his reputation as an up-and-coming playwright to further her career, he is now jaded and cynical. Nothing can come between him and his art! Of course, the joke's on him because he is having problems coming up with a follow-up to his successful play. He is deliberately rude and nasty even to old women. In the meantime, he is loaded and set for life because he comes from a wealthy family, so I can't help viewing him as an over-privileged crybaby who is afraid that he will die if he even cracks a smile. Alas, poor Preston is plagued by the perpetually feisty and cheery Cybil Campbell who just keeps trying to be a good neighbor and cheer him up. Alas, when Preston realizes that her grandfather set them up, he will once again be cruel and push her away because he will... er... I don't know, be a jerk just to make impressionable young ladies swoon, I guess.

Because he's exactly the kind of guy who will appeal to ladies who can see only the sax-playing lone wolf side of him, ladies who will wake up the next morning only to have him toss them out the door without even a post-shag breakfast because he's too manly to get close to anything and anyone during post-genital-contact moments. Perhaps I'm too old and cynical to appreciate the wounded Picasso in this dude, because as far as I'm concerned, he's just a big crybaby who can go choke on his silver spoon. As for Cybil, she's just another sunny heroine who is a bit too good to be true. She is a talented and successful artist whose syndicated comic strips allow her to work from home. Not that she even needs a job anyway, since she is related to the MacGregors, who as we all know is the most powerful, beautiful, successful, amazing, wealthy, and fecund family in the world. I shudder to imagine what will happen when a MacGregor mate with a Madaris - the world will probably explode from when so much sheer one-dimensional awesomeness collide.

I suppose The Perfect Neighbor is a great ticket to a vicarious adventure involving young and beautiful yet vapid and privileged brats pretending that they are the most unhappy people in the world, but other than that, this one is better off reserved for long plane rides when one has problems falling asleep.

Rating: 63


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