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Once Perfect by Cecy Robson

New Adult Romance Book

Rating:
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His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected in Cecy Robson’s raw, steamy series debut—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn.

Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.

Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.

As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.

(From NetGalley)

My Thoughts:

The good: I loved Mateo. He was such an intriguing, caring person and I really felt for the struggle he was enduring with his complex family dynamics. There were some scenes he had to endure that were brutal, some that were just heartbreaking, but ultimately, some that were heartwarming. If ever there was a person that deserved and needed to be loved by a good woman, it was him. And what a lover he was! Never forceful, always gentle, he always kept his partner's wants and needs ahead of his own. He never pushed and he didn't sleep around. Just an all around nice guy. But a guy filled with anger that needed an outlet, hence the MMA matches (oh, yeah, and the money, too - that plays a part in why he does it).

The not-so-good: Then there's Evelyn. She was an okay character, but I just didn't feel like she was a good enough match for Mateo. She constantly pushed him away when they got too close, but would never talk to him about why (which leads him to jump to his own conclusions). She clearly has some mental health issues, but when a professor reaches out to her, she totally blows the person off, thinking she can handle the issue on her own. Yeah, that's why she has the nightmares. I think she was a little too cavalier with her attitude toward her mental state and the things threatening it and when it all comes to a head, it's kind of anti-climatic the way it resolves; it's almost like an afterthought to the rest of the story.

I also felt like much of the story is contrived, scenes forced to back up the theme of abuse in the story.The way Evelyn handled herself had a lot to do with that feeling. As a result, the story just lacked that certain something that would take it from okay to great.