This romantic drama by Dodd (author of A Higher Standard) digs into weighty themes of obligation versus independence and love as a catalyst for genuine change. When Dave’s temporary bartender job leads to a fling with child psychiatrist Vivian “V” Walters, who’s briefly in town with girlfriends Kez and Rae for Kez’s post-breakup closure trip, Dave falls hard—and desperately wants to make it work long-term. But the pressure both feel from their families—V to land the perfect, wealthy husband and Dave to use his applied mathematics degree—may be their undoing.
Though sparks fly, the couple struggles from the start. Dave seems caring, but quickly becomes possessive, almost immediately pushing V for more than a one-night stand. When he discovers that V’s mother wants her to date a wealthy doctor, Dave threatens “to break something. Of his. That cannot be replaced.” V accepts Dave’s behavior for most of the book, and, though she’s concerned about his unhappiness with his career, is reluctant to press him for details. Mirroring her silent worry, Dave, deeply afraid of failing and disappointing V in the same way he feels he’s let his family down, shuts her out, making it all the more challenging for the pair to move past their family dynamics and manage a fresh start. Refreshingly, V’s friendship with Kez and Rae, who encourage her to seek her own happiness, is an uplifting arc to the couple’s angst.
True to the genre, Almost Perfect chisels out a path for Dave and V that, while bumpy, eventually nets a satisfying ending—and allows some resolution between the couple and their respective families. When V confronts her mother, she discovers the bittersweet history driving her concern for V’s marriage prospects, and Dave undergoes his own perspective shift that empowers the couple to finally move forward. This portrayal of flawed characters with realistic challenges resonates.
Takeaway: A flawed couple struggles to overcome family obligations and find happiness.
Comparable Titles: Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, Camille Baker’s The Moment We Met.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A