Friday, February 18, 2022

Julie Ortolon - Almost Perfect

Maddy was always the artistic one of the group, alive with color and mischief 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 multitude of galleries—seems like a start in the right direction.
There’s just one catch: The camp is run by Maddy’s high school flame, Joe, whose heart she broke—okay, smashed—and his anger towards Maddy 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 to his heart: She has to get serious about her art. But will falling in love help or hinder Maddy as she struggles to meet her challenge?

Comment: I had this book in the pile for a while and it's one of those I can't remember what made me want to read it. Although it had interesting elements, the execution wasn't as great as I imagined.

In this book we have the story of Maddy who, along with two best friends, decides to be adventurous by trying to conquer her fears. Maddy is an artist but she has always been afraid of rejection, of others not liking her art and criticizing, so she kept telling herself she wouldn't be good enough anyway. Then life happened and her husband got ill, which took a lot of her time and strength. She's sadly now a widow and the first step to try her luck is to accept a job offer from an old friend, since the job is near Santa Fe, a place known for its art scene. Too bad she will have to work at a camp for girls  - something she is actually looking up to - with her ex Joe, her boss' son, whom she dumped after feeling things were moving too quickly between them. Now they are both more mature, will the spark still be there?

For me, this is one of those books we feel has all the ingredients to work out, even if some are extremely predictable (I don't think it will be any surprise to know Maddy ends up with Joe for real this time....) but the way some stories are told well surpasses the cliches and expected plot moves. I thought this would be the case here and, in some moments, it was, but most of the time what I felt was that things weren't as exciting nor as unique to make me feel focused on these characters.

When I say this I mean that even among a predictable scenario, we still hope to be enthralled by the characters and what makes them unique. I think Joe and Maddy are interesting enough but their presence wasn't special, their story didn't have different aspects from so many others and the writing style, while fluid and easy, wasn't amazing to the point I felt I had to keep reading to be with these characters or to know what would they do next.

This is the first book I try by the author and it's certainly easy to read but her "voice" just didn't seem to go beyond this and I kind of wanted more. An example: Joe and Maddy had had a relationship in the past and we learn how things went and so on, I actually liked reading about Maddy's reasons to have ended things with Joe then for she sounded like someone who pondered consequences but in the present their thoughts don't seem to go past the superficial and the obvious. I figured the author could have added more complexity for all the characters, could have made this more about their personalities and jobs than what really happens. As if as long as some things are mentioned, that is enough.

Maddy does seem to have the personality of an artist in the sense she looks at her surroundings differently, she thinks in colors and shapes. She accepts to work as a crafts coordinator at the camp but we don't have that many scenes where she is teaching or doing related things to this. She does try to become a selling artist and Joe helps her, which is positive but then the plot goes into "romance-cliché" mode and part of this is a little lost.

Joe is an ex military man, he still feels attracted to Maddy although he wishes he didn't and surprisingly they do talk about the past in a very adult way, explaining themselves. I liked this for is showed they did grow up but when I thought the big issue would be how would they go past that and admit they liked each other, this happened rather too easily and the big issue ended up being another thing. I feel sad we didn't have more time with them debating if they wanted to have a relationship again, perhaps more tension to make it sweeter when they did end up together but the tactic to do this was a bit more banal....

Sometimes, it felt as if they didn't really learn anything with the past. They talk and say they do but then they repeat the same mistakes... of course people don't always react as logically as they should and even in real life it's hard to have time to think and process things but in this case it can become a bit frustrating as one reads along. 

All things considered, this was an average story, with interesting little things but the big picture didn't seem to be as well achieved. I feel there should have been a lot more depth to everything, even for the camp work they do, which never went beyond the basic. Perhaps one day I might try another book by this author of a different series...
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment