Wednesday, July 21, 2021

TBR Challenge: Lisa Gardner - The Perfect Husband

What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?
Jim Beckett was everything she'd ever dreamed of...But two years after Tess married the decorated cop and bore his child, she helped put him behind bars for savagely murdering ten women. Even locked up in a maximum security prison, he vowed he would come after her and make her pay. Now the cunning killer has escaped--and the most dangerous game of all begins....
After a lifetime of fear, Tess will do something she's never done before. She's going to learn to protect her daughter and fight back, with the help of a burned-out ex-marine. As the largest manhunt four states have ever seen mobilizes to catch Beckett, the clock winds down to the terrifying reunion between husband and wife. And Tess knows that this time, her only choices are to kill--or be killed.

Comment: Years ago, I thought this would be a good book to add to my TBR but, as often happens, it has languished for all that time until now, when I finally picked it for the July TBR post theme, which is "secrets and lies", Yes, quite suggestive but I figured any book where crimes are being investigated would have both, wouldn't you agree?

In this novel we follow Tess as she tries to train her abilities in self defense because her ex husband escaped prison and she knows he will come after her.. She is afraid but wants to control her life again and there's also her daughter to protect. She goes to JT Dillon, an ex marine who is (badly) dealing with the death of his wife and son. He seems uncooperative at first but thinks it won't take too long to convince Tess she didn't choose a good deal but in fact, they both learn a team is stronger than two individuals. As her ex keeps killing probably trying to find her, will she succeed in getting the upper hand?

This is the first book by the author I try so I don't have much to compare it with except what I appreciate in thrillers in general. I found the writing to be easy, fluid, fast paced and rather energetic, in the sense there was always something happening. Perhaps it's because of this I also felt things went on too quickly at all levels, both plot and emotional advance. 

I missed a bit more connection with the characters and how they dealt with what was happening with them. I don't believe analyzing everything is necessary to impart information or feelings but in this case things were fast and taken as certain so I feel I wasn't given the chance to really enjoy how the process was if the romantic aspects and the crime solving had to always be par to par without enough time to follow the steps on both things.

The plot was simple if not a little hard to imagine. I'm a somewhat lazy person, a follower of rules maybe, so all the ways characters devise to do things which are so unlikely always feel too weird and hard to accept - I mean how would one go to find a mercenary so easily/quickly as Tess found JT and conveniently be able to live with him and find a personal connection? Sure, this is fiction, but it feel very convenient how so many details match up.

The characters obviously make stories like these, because police procedures always feel overly easy and solvable in books and movies, in real life wouldn't they have to spend way much more time on paperwork? Anyway, I liked Tess and JT as protagonists, even as a couple but I admit I didn't feel an immediate connection with them. It's one of those situations where I don't think I'll have much remembrance of their path into a HEA weeks after having finished. JT has lived through disappointments and disillusionment over his father, someone he admired. I've come to really hate his father but JT and his sister Marion really should have done therapy, perhaps that could have helped.

Tess, the heroine, was a good character study for she goes from naive victim to determined force of nature. I'd say the problem is that since everything happens fast, so does her development/progress. Or, it feels like it does. In that regard, I failed to connect with her because her steps were well planned by the author and there seemed to be no time to allow her to test things as she went, she simply had to get them right in order to be successful. This didn't ruin the story for me, but it's an element I took notice of, therefore, along with the other elements, the overall effect of the story wasn't as memorable as I'd have liked.

Thinking of this story as a whole, I liked it enough to have finished, to have had a good enough experience in trying this author's style but I'm not certain I'll read more so soon.
Grade: 6/10


  1. Tess, the heroine, was a good character study for she goes from naive victim to determined force of nature. I'd say the problem is that since everything happens fast, so does her development/progress

    I was just talking about how romantic suspense has a hard job to juggle the romance and the suspense, making both feel filled out. A lot of the time characterization feels left behind.

    Great review!

    1. Hello, sorry for taking so long to reply...busy days at work...

      Yes, sometimes fast paced plots don't really manage balance very well... or, in other words, the balance isn't done well at all times.