The Problem With Perfect
by Philip William Stover
Release Date: May 11, 2023
Number of Pages: 295
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Ages 14 and up
When style is everything, will Ethan learn that true beauty is on the inside?
Chase Myles can throw together a swinging dinner party or redecorate an entire townhouse with jaw-dropping elegance. Followers scroll his Insta and see effortless workouts, exotic travel, and an adoring boyfriend. The world believes Chase is a style icon. The world is mistaken.
Ethan Wells is actually the one who knows what to wear, what to eat and how to do it but he’s happy staying behind the scenes producing their hit LGBTQ show Myles of Style. When Chase walks off set just before the Pride live TV show that will make or break Ethan’s career, Ethan thinks it’s just another tantrum… until Chase’s Instagram shows him partying hard in Abu Dhabi.
Out of options, Ethan drives up to rural New York to convince Chase’s estranged twin, Beau, to pass him off as Chase for a week, but Ethan finds a hairy, rugged mountain man who couldn’t be more different from his social butterfly, influencer brother.
Can Ethan transform Beau into the star of the show and fool his bosses and Chase’s followers? And when Beau turns out to be kind, romantic and everything that Chase is not, does he really want Chase back, anyway?
I’m not usually a fan of single POV in romance books. That’s because it often doesn’t work well. I found myself wishing for Beau’s POV in this story. Beau seems like such a great guy and, when we meet him, we’ve already met his twin who is a tool. The protagonist Ethan, while not terrible, has a lot of serious flaws. I was fine with not knowing why Beau and Chase are estranged, but I was having a hard time understanding what Beau saw in Ethan when it became obvious he had feelings for him.
I was eventually able to see that Ethan is a good guy who makes very bad decisions. You can’t be surrounded by so many wonderful people who love and support you if there’s not some decency inside. He also let that part of his personality show through every once in a while. Yet over and over, he went from having the right thought to choosing the wrong thing to do. It got tiring and annoying. It took far too long for Ethan to get his head out of his ass. Especially considering his “goal” was something he didn’t even really want.
There were some sweet moments and once in a while I even felt the chemistry between Ethan and Beau, but they don’t even kiss until 70% into the book. So once again I went into a book expecting it to be a true, capital R, Romance and didn’t get that. I wouldn’t even call it a slow burn because the yearning glances aren’t even there.
I requested this ARC because I had read this author’s Seasons of New Hope series and adored those books. Great characters who are broken but lovable, have amazing chemistry, and there is a wonderful setting. In this book, I love the secondary characters, but the rest falls apart. It makes me sad since if this is someone’s first experience with this author they may not realize his true potential.
Even though there was a lot that didn’t work for me, I want to say again that I love the secondary characters. There is so much representation and because of the storyline, it all fits in seamlessly. The book is worth reading for Clams Casino alone. It’s also worth noting that the author himself looks at his writing as more of “chick-lit featuring gay male protagonists”, which makes more sense to me than Romance with that pesky capital “R”.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
A slow burn is one thing, but there needs to be chemistry the entire time. That would have bothered me, too. Great review.
I kept reading because, as I said, I’ve read this author before and loved his other stories. Otherwise it may have ended up a DNF.