A wholesome romance about two people who meet during a trip and decide to date for fun. But when things start to turn real, they need to figure out what’s important to them.
After leaving a job that made him miserable, Dave Richardson is trying to find his passion. He’s been working as a bartender while he figures out next steps, but hasn’t had any prospects thus far. That is until Vivian Walters walks into his bar. Vivian is on a girls’ trip in Rochester, New York with her two best friends, a reprieve from her hectic job as a pediatrician in Charlotte, North Carolina. She doesn’t have time for relationships, and has always dated men who seem perfect on paper because she seeks her mother’s approval. She doesn’t do casual relationships, but the moment her and Dave’s eyes meet, there’s instant chemistry. Despite living in two different states, they give their relationship a try.
As soon as Vivian goes back home, all of her insecurities come creeping in, especially when her socialite mother starts matchmaking and insists on learning more about Dave. In the meantime, Dave has never felt strongly for another woman, and his feelings for Vivian inspire him to look for a better job and move closer to her.
Lack of communication and wanting things to be perfect make up the bulk of the conflict in E.F. Dodd’s ALMOST PERFECT. The story is told in third person with alternating sections from Vivian and Dave, which transition seamlessly because they’re threaded either by moments they’re sharing with each other or thoughts they’re having about the other: “Since when was a well-washed concert T-shirt sexy?” goes through Vivian’s head as she eyes Dave during their first encounter. Later Dave considers calling her: “Dave stared at the contact entry in his phone until the numbers blurred into one another.”
Moments like these prove especially helpful to the reader, as Dave and Vivian don’t spend enough time having serious conversations to discuss their vulnerabilities. This also creates some distance in their relationship. Rather than protect her feelings, for example, Dave leaves her defenseless when she’s fielding questions about their relationship from her friends and family. And given that they are long-distance throughout the entire book, the lack of significant conversations between them is glaringly obvious. Despite their communication issues, however, it’s refreshing to see a hero be so uncertain and vulnerable in a romance, especially because his uncertainty doesn’t make him resent Vivian or her career but inspires him to be better for her. He searches for jobs to be near her when they start getting serious, and she inspires him to take risks on his career that he couldn’t before. Fortunately for readers, these two don’t live too far away to see each other semi-frequently, and it’s charming to see how they make the long-distance work.
Their date nights and parties are paired with steamy moments of intimacy, as the urgency to be together before they’re separated again is palpable. Dave’s a soft and caring character who never pushes Vivian to do something she’s uncomfortable with, and, with every new step they take in their relationship, he ensures that she’s okay with how fast they’re going. Meanwhile, Vivian is a confident heroine who finds the courage to put herself out there with the help of a strong friendship group, which only endears readers to her.
E.F. Dodd’s ALMOST PERFECT is a feel-good, swoony romance full of blush-worthy moments paired with important themes of self-love and the idea that “almost perfect” moments of happiness are still perfect.
~Kamrun Nesa for IndieReader