I am a huge Suzanne Brockmann fan. About ten years ago, I fell in love with her Troubleshooters series and have been snatching up copies of her books - both her new releases and her backlist - at lightning speed ever since. I know that I can count on Brockmann's books to have a well thought out plot, diverse three-dimensional characters, and to be written in a style that comes across as natural and effortless (an effect that I know is difficult for most authors to achieve). These elements are especially well done in Brockmann’s later work, so it was with no small amount of trepidation that I picked up her first novel, Future Perfect.
As it turns out, I was right to be wary. While there was nothing grossly wrong
with Future Perfect
, there wasn’t much that was special or memorable about it either.
The book’s main characters are Juliana Anderson and Webster Donovan. Juliana is the proprietor of a sleepy Victorian B&B. At first glance, she’s proper and prudish and tries to keep the world (especially the male half of the population) at a distance. But as Brockmann peels back the layers on her character, we see that Juliana has a rebellious past, and a penchant for leather (gasp!) and motorcycles (double gasp!). She has had her heart broken by an only vaguely described but undoubtedly idiotic ex-boyfriend named Dennis, and carries a deep, dark secret that I can assure you - without spoiling anything - is neither that dark, nor that well-kept a secret. Overall, Juliana was likeable enough, but there wasn’t anything so spectacular about her that I could understand the Romeo & Juliet-like devotion to her exhibited by the male lead. Speaking of which...
Webster is a tall, darkly handsome author from Boston who’s staying at the B&B while he works on the first draft of his new novel. On the surface he’s a charmingly cocksure playboy type, but underneath all that he has confidence issues that stem from childhood abandonment and keep him from believing in love. Except, what do you know?! He falls in love with Juliana pretty much right away and spends the rest of the book shooting puppy dog eyes at her and trying to get in her pants. Though I understand that Brockmann was trying to create a leading man who was more sensitive than your typical alpha male character, I found Donovan to be a little too
sweet to be compelling, and his level of devotion sometimes bordered on pathetic rather than endearing.
In terms of the plot, I don’t really have much to say (and none of what I have to say is particularly kind). As a reader, I could see every minor conflict coming and could practically have written the climax and resolution myself... in my sleep. The whole thing came off feeling formulaic and forgettable.
As with any job, I’m sure that authors experience a considerable learning curve at the beginning of their career. I think that’s what we’re seeing here -- a pretty mediocre first foray into the genre that allowed Brockmann to cut her teeth and hone her craft to the level evident in the Troubleshooter series. Overall, the book was sweetly romantic if not terribly interesting.
Verdict: A completely serviceable romance novel, but even to a die-hard Brockmann fan this book probably would have been better left on the "out of print" list.