Darcy's Reviews > Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery
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May 22, 11

bookshelves: 2011, audio-book, romance
Read from May 18 to 22, 2011

This is going to be an unusual review, I liked this book, even gave it 4 stars, but I will be spending the review ranting and raving, bitching and moaning. Why you ask, well it is because I HATED Ethan, and the charming town that I fell in love with in the first book lost it's charm, I am even mad at it. As I was listening to this book I kept swearing at all the jackassery going on, how could one man be so stupid! All will be explained, but becareful because spoilers abound, as I am basically laying the whole book out.

First our main characters, Liz and Ethan. Liz was basically trash, her mother was a drunk, verbally abused her, and supported the family by selling sex and herself. She would bring these men home to her house where her kids lived, Liz and her brother Roy. Roy was much older and protected and cared for her when he was around, sadly he left when she was 12. The mother was such a piece of crap that any communication that came from Roy after he left, she never told Liz. Liz thought her brother abandoned her.

Like in most small towns Mommy dearest's actions had an effect on Liz. She was branded a slut even though she was smart, her being very pretty didn't help. The other kids in school made fun of her, the boys expected her to put out like her mother, even though she didn't. Her childhood was crap, worse than crap because she had no one to talk to.

In walks Ethan, who thinks she is very pretty, but he is a member of one of the founding members of the town, well to do, popular, and good looking. They start to date, Ethan is her first kiss, first boyfriend, first love, first first, but he claims that they must keep their relationship secret. Liz was ok with this, she naively thought it made things more exciting. One night they finally have sex, the first time for Liz. Afterwards Ethan says that he loves her, that in the fall when they go away to college they can be together. I bet you can see where this is going can't you.

The next day Ethan comes into the restaurant where Liz works with his friends. One of them says he saw Ethan with Liz and wants to know if they are dating. Ethan says, within hearing of Liz, no they weren't dating, that she is trash and he doesn't need a piece of tail that bad. Is my hate for Ethan becoming clear...but wait it gets better. Liz, bless her heart, is pissed and dumps a milkshake on his head and walks out. She is hurt, so hurt in fact that she leaves town that night.

Three weeks later Liz discovers she is pregnant. Because she is a good person Liz puts her hurt on hold and goes back to tell Ethan and finds him naked and in bed with Pia, one of the mean girls who tormented her. Devastated she leaves again without telling anyone.
We later learn that Ethan and Pia didn't have sex, Ethan was too drunk to perform. Both Pia and Ethan don't get why Liz was so upset (even now), there was no penetration so it shouldn't matter. In fact they didn't even really date, it was just a 1 night thing. Admit it, you are starting to hate Ethan now too.

Six years later Liz is feeling guilty about not making a better effort about telling him she was pregnant. Now there is a son who has been asking about his father. Liz sucks it up and heads back to Fool's Gold. She goes to Ethan's house, where she learns he is not home. She explains the situation to his wife, who in turn says that she will tell Ethan. Back in San Francisco Liz is on pins and needles waiting to hear just how her life will change, when she gets a letter. In the letter Ethan denies that the child is his, calls her all sorts of nasty names and tells her that she better never come back to Fool's Gold. Her heart, broken already, finally fractures and she goes on with her life.

We fast forward to present day, Liz is a successful murder mystery novelist (where she can basically kill Ethan again and again in every book, cathartic), her son, Tyler is 11. Their life is happy and settled. Out of the blue she gets an e-mail from a girl claiming to be her niece, saying that their dad, her brother, is in jail, their stepmother left them, Melissa, 14, has been caring for Abby, 10, but it is harder than she thought and they have run out of money. Can she please help them out. Liz, horrified, jumps to action after determining the girl's statement is true rushing back to the one place she swore to never set foot, Fool's Gold.

Once in Fool's Gold Liz talks to the girls. She finds out that Melissa has been in charge for the last 3 months, that she was left with only $100, that for the last little while she has been having to steal to eat, there are no toiletries in the house, the utilities have been turned off long ago, AND no one in town has stepped in to help. That town charm is starting to tarnish now isn't it?

A day of so later Ethan sees Liz in a crowd and feels that old attraction, later on he swings by her house. Liz sitting out on the porch when he comes by immediately says that she wasn't going to bother him, that her and Tyler would keep away and they would be out of town just as soon as she has a handle on the situation with the girls. Ethan's reaction is basically WTF, wanting to know if Tyler is her husband. Liz answers, no our son, your wife told you , I got your letter. Ethan goes crazy at this point, furious that he has a son that she stole from him, that she never told him about. Liz explains the past, but Ethan says she didn't try hard enough. He says that his wife never told him anything and he didn't write a letter. Liz says she still has the letter and will have it overnighted for him to see. Ethan demands things of her, to know his son. Things do not go well. As it is late at night Liz says that tomorrow will be good enough, that she will explain to Tyler about Ethan.

Ethan goes to complain to his mother, Denise, tells her his side of the story with very little of the fault of the situation falling at his feet. Denise, furious that she has been denied a grandchild for 11 years rushes over to Liz's house and rips into her. Liz tries to explain, but Denise won't listen, all she can see is her hurt.
And as with most small towns the gossip mill works overtime, this new tale spreading through like wild fire. Liz finds herself out and about in town where random strangers start to come up to her, berating her for keeping Ethan's son from him. One woman approaches her at a town meeting and tells her she heard she was the class slut and looks like it was true. You are packing your bags to move to this town now aren't you?

Liz works hard to not say anything bad to Tyler about Ethan, gives them time to spend together, but just can't handle the animosity from Ethan and the town. She plans to take all the kids back to San Francisco and her life, when Ethan hits her with an injunction that she can't leave town. Liz is furious, she had already offered every other weekend to him, and he couldn't just let them work things out themselves.

While in town Liz also finds out that the town has a scholarship in her name for underprivileged woman who wouldn't otherwise be able to go to school. Turns out most of the town knew what was going on with her mother, but no one wanted to step in to help. To assuage their guilt they took the scholarship money she walked away from when she ran away and added to it because money is easier to give then to actually do anything.

Liz also has Pia and Ethan's sister Montana, pestering her to no end to be part of the town's book festival. With a big name author like her it would be a big hit for the town, that same town that shit on her as a kid and is doing the same to her as an adult.

What made me so mad was that Ethan kept bringing up how he was a kid when all of this was going down, implying that Liz wasn't. That she should have been held to a better standard, that she deliberately kept Tyler from him. She didn't, she tried. Ethan would also keep bringing up the same argument time and time again. At some point you have to just get over it and move on. I had a big problem with the town too. They go on and on about how living in a small town is good, that people are there for each other, but it wasn't really. Liz and her nieces are examples. Maybe if you are the "right" sort of people they are there for you. They also wanted a big pat on the back for the scholarship in Liz's name, hypocrites, all of them.

I will say that this book has a HEA, but Ethan's big gesture at the end isn't enough to win me over. To me it was too little too late, the same for the town itself. Liz could do better than both of them.

Hats off to Susan Mallory, it isn't often that a book has me swearing at the action in it, has me damning characters and to spew such hate on a book that I really liked. I will keep reading the series, I just hope the characters and the town can get their heads out of their butts.
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Reading Progress

05/18/2011
15.0% "I really can't stand Ethan right now!"
05/19/2011
31.0% "Can't believe Liz did the stupid girl thing...." 6 comments
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