“ Genre: Author: Sheila O'Flanagan / Hardcover / 512 Pages / Book is published 2009-09-03 by Headline Review „
I'm not much of a fan of plotless romance, which is what I expected this book to be. While there are some good books in this genre, there tends to be a lot of samey storylines, and not much talent!
This book, however, was better then expected. The story follows Mia, a woman who is madly in love with her daughter's father...unfortunately, he's happily married to somebody else. Her sister, Britt, is the author of a bestselling romance novel, but is an ice queen and won't let any man near her.
Britt has been invited to guest speak on a cruise, and decides to take her sister Mia to try and cheer her up. The range of characters on board is huge, from the hilarious to the sexy, including Steve and Leo. Steve is a ship officer, who has taken a shine to Mia, and tries desperatly to woo her. Leo is still feeling humiliated and angry after discovering that his wife cheated on him, and wounded by her death. He's an emotional wreck, but he'd be the perfect man for Britt...
While there are elements of chick lit, this book deserves a much better description then that! The writing is slick and witty, and the story is well thought out. Britt is funny, and her attitude catching, and Mia is a realistic, loveable character who you'll vary between feeling sorry for, and wishing she'd cheer up!
The book is a bit predictable, but its a fun read nevertheless, and it's perfect for a lighthearted entertainment.
I have read many of Sheila O'Flanagan's books and have always found them light enjoyable reads with interesting storylines and likeable characters. This is what I was expecting from The Perfect Man, and I was not at all disappointed.
Unlike most of O'Flanagan's books, this one is not set in Dublin but mainly takes place on a romantic cruise ship in the Caribbean. Britt McDonagh, the successful author of a novel also entitled The Perfect Man, has been invited on board to present a series of talks and workshops about successful romantic writing. This feels quite uncomfortable for Britt as she believes herself to be the least romantic person on earth and much less so than her sister Mia who she has invited along as her assistant. Mia's life is almost the total opposite of Britt's, living in a rundown villa in Spain with her young daughter Allegra. Where there is order and success in Britt's life; in Mia's there is chaos and uncertainty. The sisters feel that they have little in common but as the cruise progresses on its spectacular journey; they gradually get to know each other better and start to respect each sister's choices and lifestyles.
No cruise could be complete without at least a hint of romance and although this is a Valentine cruise with most of the guests already in couples, there is always the broody Leo Tyler, who is desperately trying to make sense of recent events in his life, and Steve Shaw, the handsome cruise director. Set against the opulence of the cruise ship and the natural beauty of the Caribbean, it all makes for fascinating reading.
Once the cruise is over, each sister returns home to Dublin or Spain and each have a lot of soul searching to do as their time on board ship has forced them to examine where they are in life and to make decisions. The big question for both sisters though is whether or not they have found 'the perfect man?'
I really enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up and it did not take long before I was completely caught up in the lives of the sisters. Both were extremely likeable, and as I read, I was really hoping that things would work out well for them and especially that they could resolve their differences with each other. Watching their relationship develop made very enjoyable reading for me.
The storyline was absorbing with lots going on as the novel progressed. It was the sort of book that kept you guessing to the very end but I have to say that I was very pleased with how it all turned out for everyone. It was a very satisfying read. Sheila O'Flanagan has a very easy writing style which makes you keep turning the pages effortlessly.
I particularly enjoyed reading about life on board the cruise ship and there was some excellent description as it passed through the Panama Canal. Also, this setting allowed the author to introduce a diverse but fun collection of minor characters all enjoying their own cruising experience. I equally loved reading the chapters about Britt's workshops as she attempted to explain the process she went through writing the novel. Also when she returns home we see her struggling to come up with another book and watching her go through all her thought processes was fascinating. It did make me wonder whether Sheila O'Flanagan might have been describing herself at times particularly as both authors were writing the same book.
As I was reading The Perfect Man, I was reminded of a couple of books that I have read and reviewed recently. The theme of writing and writer's workshops is something that comes through very strongly in Love Letters by Katie FForde. The Prodigal Sister by Laura Elliott tells of three sisters travelling together through New Zealand and getting to know each other much better as they go. I am sure that if you like the sound of The Perfect Man, you will equally enjoy these books as well.
The hardback copy is currently available on Amazon for £7.79.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
The Perfect Man tells the story of Britt and Mia McDonagh, two sisters who have totally opposite opinions when it comes to love. Britt, whose debut novel The Perfect Man was an instant success, doesn't believe in romance since her marriage broke up but Mia, single mother to Allegra, believes in The One and is still in love with her ex, Alejo.
The two sisters go on a cruise, a ship named Aphrodite, to speak about Britt's book and meet Leo, who is hiding a heart break and Steve, who works on the ship. Nothing seems to happen until they all go home (to Dublin and Spain) and they all have to take risks if they want a happy future.
I absolutely loved The Perfect Man. The cover, the writing, the characters... it was all fabulous. It's quite a chunk of a book - large paperback version has just over 500 pages, but there's never a dull moment. It reads like a dream and you could imagine all of the beautiful locations described.
Books set in foreign places are always high up on my list of books to read and I thought it very unique that over half of The Perfect Man was set on a cruise around the Caribbean. The descriptions of the ship as well as all of the places the ship docks are very well described by Sheila. I've never been on a ship but reading about the Aphrodite makes me want to go on a cruise!
The rest of the book alternates between Dublin, where Leo and Britt live, and Sierra Bonita in Spain where Mia and Allegra live. Sierra Bonita is very well described and sounds like a beautiful Spanish town.
For once, I loved all of the characters in the book. Shelia didn't write any of them as a villain, except maybe Alejo but he really he was more of a minor character. I liked Mia and thought it was great how, even though the love of her life had left her, she still believes in love and The One. Britt's hesitancy with love and all things romance, as well as her potential career change, was also well written and I could see both sisters perspective on their views of love. Britt's changing opinion on love was very well done by Sheila. Leo was the main man on board the ship and had a very sad tale to tell. I kept trying to second guess what exactly had happened and was pleased we didn't have to wait until the end of the book to find out exactly what happened. Steve, I felt, wasn't a main character but he was prominent to the story. I liked him and I wish he'd appeared more!
Britt, Mia and Leo had complex but very interesting back stories and as we got further into the book we learnt all about what they'd faced. Britt's failed marriage was an interesting one - she came across as cold during the first part of the book so there was only one obvious conclusion as to why her marriage might have failed. It was interesting to find out I was wrong and, actually, Britt was lovely. Mia back-story was great, too, and I liked the scenes in Antigua Guatemala which helped fill in Mia's story with Alejo. As I mentioned, Alejo is a bit of a villain and I didn't really like him. Leo's was the most interesting as I mentioned above.
There were a few minor characters, the main minor character being the Costello family who were also on board Aphrodite. Even though Sheila could have made Pippin, the Costello's daughter, really nasty I felt that Pippin was actually lovely. Usually models in books are written as stupid and nasty but not Pippin. I'm glad that she got her happy ending.
The Perfect Man was really well written and switched easily from Mia's to Britt's to Leo's perspective. It was a really great read, with a fabulous set of characters as well as great descriptions of some beautiful places. I wholly recommend it!