Ivy, Mar 2002, 6.99, 368 pp.
With her record, Cleo Alyssum knows she needs to remain perfectly clean if she is to regain custody of her seven-year-old son Matty. Thus, she finds contentment and isolation from her past on a secluded South Carolina island until renowned cartoonist Jared McCloud of Scapegrace fame arrives asking to rent the dilapidated guesthouse. Cleo refuses until a teenage neighbor playing a prank causes an accident involving Jared. To keep thirteen-year-old Gene out of trouble with the law, Cleo rents the property to Jared.
Jared is very attracted to Cleo, but she rejects his advances, as she does not need a new man in her house except for her Matty. However, she admits that Jared is nice and seems to care about others when he begins to help Gene and the lad's sister with their personal problems. Still his efforts to reach Cleo constantly fail leaving it up to a natural disaster like the hurricane that descends on the island to show her that Jared is nothing like her deceased husband was.
ALMOST PERFECT is a superb relationship drama that stars two strong lead characters and a deeply wounded but a bit over-characterized support cast. The story line predominantly spins around Jared and Cleo, but also provides a deep look at other relationships especially when a caring adult gets involved with teens. Patricia Rice has written an angst laden relationship drama that hard core fans will fully relish.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner