Maddy, Christine, and Amy, friends since college, are thrilled to learn their old suitemate's self-help book, How to Have a Perfect Life, has become a smashing bestseller - until they realize she used them as negative examples of how women let fear mess up their lives. The worst part is…it's sort of true. So, the three friends make a pact: They each have one year to face down their fears - and prove Miss Perfect wrong!
A free spirited artist - Maddy was always the artistic one of the group, full of life from her saucy red curls to her vintage hippie skirts. Her challenge, the friends decide, is to get her artwork accepted at a gallery. A job as arts director at a summer camp near Santa Fe - with its thriving art scene - seems like just the thing.
There's just one catch: The camp is run by Maddy's high school flame, Joe, whose heart she smashed when she chose her art over marriage to him. His anger over the breakup hasn't cooled one bit. But neither has their attraction. Old desires burn hotter than ever as Joe makes it clear there's only one way back into his heart: She has to get serious about the art career she once valued above all else. But will falling in love help or hinder Maddy as she struggles to meet her challenge?
©2011 Julie Ortolon (P)2013 Julie Ortolon
I got the kindle book for FREE, that's right, FREE at Amazon and then the Audible price was only $1.99 with their Whispersync deal! I was really pleasantly surprised with this one! I loved the best friends aspect as much as the romance. The 3 woman make a pact that each will complete a challenge decided upon by the other two. It is something that the person has let fear keep her from doing. I loved the interactions of these ladies woven into the story as a backdrop to the romance that takes place. For only $1.99 total for e-book and audiobook both, I say give it a try! You just might be pleasantly surprised too!
This is a review of both the Audible and the Kindle versions.
I haven't enjoyed a new-to-me author this much in a long time and it just goes to prove the old adage about never judging a book by its cover - but in this case, its 'never judge a book by its price.' See, I've had Almost Perfect sitting on my Kindle forever! Seriously, at least couple years, I'm sure. But I had this idea that because it had been free, it probably wasn't all that good, so I was in no hurry to get to it. Yeeaaah, no! I was totally wrong about that and I'm kicking myself for having waited so long to read this story.
Maddy, Christine, and Amy find that an old college roommate has written about them in her new self-help book-and they're furious that she's used them as examples of how women screw up their lives. And the worst part is, it's sort of true. Together they make a pact: they'll face down their fears-and maybe show Miss Perfect a thing or two!
Maddy rejected her high school sweetheart's marriage proposal for art school years ago. Now her friends challenge her to rediscover her lost passion for arts. In doing so, she crosses paths with her old flame, Joe, at an art camp. Perhaps it's about time that Maddy reignites another old passion.
There are a few things that stand out in my mind as to what makes this such an entertaining story. Most definitely Christine and Amy and their friendship with Maddy - true friends who tell you what you need to hear, even when it's not what you want to hear. Their relationship added a bit of a chick-lit feel, but not too much. This truly is a romance driven novel. And a steamy one, at that!
Another thing I loved is the theme of never giving up on your dreams. In fact, that's the jumping off point and the foundation of the story. And while the friendship is the catalyst for Maddie reaching for her dreams, Joe is also there, cheering her on.
But for me, best of all, I loved this second chance romance that, against almost impossible odds, was truly wonderful. No hurried forgiveness, no lame excuses that are acceptable just to move things along...the whole story, start to finish, drew me in and kept me totally invested in these very real, totally normal, compelling flawed people. (And an FYI to those I know will be wondering - there was no cheating involved when the relationship ended the first time.)
Jane Cramer did a great job of giving each character a distinctive voice and personality. Her own voice is smooth, pleasant, and so, so easy to listen to!
I'm excited to read more by this talented author/narrator team!
My thanks to the Ortolons for providing me with a copy of this audio book in exchange for an honest review. It was such a pleasure!
Nice plot or storyline, this was my first time reading one of her books. I was not disappointed, it shows that you should not always give up on your dreams and aspirations to please someone else
This was a really wonderful story. I am so glad I purchased this book and I can't wait to read the next 2. I think it would make a really good movie.
Yes I will! Excellent story.
The interaction of three friends - the past and the present. How so much can change. How finding love can be so hard and yet so rewarding.
The expressions and meaning in her words. She does an excellent job narrating. When I was small I loved being read to - I still love it.
It made me want to read the whole series! Plus read every book Julie has written!
Almost Perfect was the first book I read written by Julie Ortolon. I am hooked. I love how she writes and how she puts so much meaning into her characters. I listened to the Perfect Trilogy series - read the Texas Heat Series and now I am listening to the Pearl Island Series. I am telling everyone about her and how great her books are.
Musings & Ramblings
Maddie had put her art career on hold while her husband had cancer. She stepped in to help run his accounting firm, and now since his passing, she hasn't done anything towards rekindling earlier desire of making a name for herself. Maddie is charged with getting her art in a gallery and an offer to work as an Art Coordinator for a summer camp near Santa Fe, seems the perfect opportunity. Just one big problem, her high school boyfriend Joe, is the Camp Director. She hopes to clear the air with him and maybe once again become friends. Only Joe hasn't forgotten, nor has he forgiven her.
Maddie and Joe had sparks right from the start. When Joe finds out his mother has hired Maddie behind his back, he tries to make her leave. They share a history, but have since grown and changed and become new people. I think second chance at love stories work best when both of the couple have not only changed since they were together last, but still have growth opportunities available. This was especially true for Maddie and Joe. I enjoyed the story and though this is part of a trilogy, the only cliffhanger is what happens to Christine in her story. I would listen to the next 2 books, as I really enjoyed the interactions between the women.
I think Jane Cramer did a good job on the narration. Though she didn't really change up the tone of the different voices, she did give each one it's own distinct rhythm and cadence that made it clear which character was speaking. I was pleased with the overall performance and would listen to her again. This was a solid 3 stars.
We read to know, we are not alone ~ C.S. Lewis
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration:4 Story: 4
I needed a lighter romance with some interesting spin, and Julie Ortolon’s title managed to create that for me without issue, and it also puts a spin on the”self-help” genre (a particular non-favorite of mine) giving the characters a needed kick in the pants while actually dealing with long-standing issues.
Maddy, Christine, Amy and Jane were suitemates and friends in university: and now ten years later Jane is published with her new book How to Have a Perfect Life. Maddy, Christine and Amy are still very close, and do the right thing - appear to support a friend who has become more distant since they left school. But, when they open the book and see that they are all used as ‘what not to do’ examples in the book, they decide that they won’t stall - they make a bet that in the next year they all must tackle the fear that Jane had noted, and overcome it.
This is Maddy’s story: and recently her life has been all about recovery after nursing her husband during a long illness, and managing his business, before liquidating after his death. Maddy had always hoped to be an artist: in fact her now deceased husband had planned for her to create her art while he worked at building his accounting business. But, needs must and her personal dreams were put on hold, and her friends also have found a stalling point in their own lives.
Highlights include the interactions: the caring friends, the reconnection between Joe and Maddy, and Maddy and Mama Frasier, the owner of the summer camp that will give Maddy the space and place to kickstart her own part of the challenge. As the Arts Director, Maddy will be teaching, supervising and organizing the arts programme at this New Mexico summer camp, while leaving her plenty of inspiration and opportunity to get back into the swing of a productive artist.
The hesitation from both Maddy and Joe was realistic, and the reasons that they both held anger and fears about their own broken high school love affair led into further revelations from both Maggie and Joe, and forces them to look forward to the “what next’ in their life. Not wanting to let her friends down, and actually being excited by the challenge, Maddy is willing to take those first tentative steps into her new life. Steamy hot - the emotions between the two set off sparks: some angry and hurt, others desiring yet afraid, and make their interactions full of emotion. They are electric together and their connection both physical and emotional fuels their growth.
Narration in this story is provided by Jane Cramer who uses subtle shifts and changes to define individual character voices, and they all feel natural and not over-emoted. She doesn’t over-act the voice of Joe - using a harder and quicker delivery style to present him, the perfect addition of masculine energy without presenting as a caricature. At the 1x speed, I found her enunciation felt far too ‘careful’, moving the speed up to 1.25 brought a nice conversational speed without damaging the presentation.
I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I thought the story line insipid and a little too 'finger pointy' for me. The narrator has a nice voice, but she'd put a little lilt at the end of most sentences that grated on my nerves. She also, to me, had poor pacing. I want a narrator; the AUTHOR is the storyteller. Could be just me.
On the plus side, the author can put a sentence together and uses grammar correctly, for the most part.
It is possible I am just too old and too experienced to fall in love with this story. Needless to say, I won't consider the sequels and I'm glad it was inexpensive.
As always, YMMV.
This is a feel good, old fashioned type of romance.
Some steamy scenes which is never crude or over the top. The tension between the two main protagonists were enough to make me want to listen more and more.
The Momma character was a hoot as well as a very wise woman who basically served to explain the theme of the book while the two main protagonists served to advance the plot of love lost, misunderstaning etc.
The narrator, Jane Cramer did a brilliant job in giving a voice to a very loveable cast of characters.
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