Book Review: A Perfect Mess, Zoe Dawson

A Perfect Mess


I am writing this review on behalf of the publisher as requested from NetGalley:

“I know what you did last summer.

Aubree Walker, the perfect girl most likely to succeed, is sure there’s only one person who knows what she did.

Booker Outlaw, one of the three Outlaw brothers—all identical, all gorgeous, all from the wrong side of the tracks, and all pure bad boys. He was always the unpredictable one, the one who would be brash enough to make it big self-publishing horror novels on the internet. He promised never to tell, but everyone knows you can never trust an Outlaw.

Then a year later, in the middle of the night, she receives a phone call at Tulane. Her aunt, who took her in after her mother’s death, is in a coma under suspicious circumstances. Now she has to face that one person who knows all about what she did that summer—sexy Booker.

Returning to Hope Parish to be with her aunt, stirs up all those ugly memories. When Aubree starts getting threats, she can’t help but wonder if what she did last summer was tied to her aunt’s “accident.” Afraid, she turns to the only person who knows the truth and Booker doesn’t hesitate to offer his broad shoulder for her to lean on. But Booker has a secret of his own that could crush their fledgling relationship.

As the hot, sultry summer days move on, she finds that even a perfectly smart girl can lose her heart to a perfectly bad boy. What is she going to do when someone starts asking questions Aubree doesn’t want to answer? She’s knee deep into a terribly dangerous, wholly life changing, who-can-she-really-depend-on perfect mess.”

Secrets, Lies, and the Pangs of First Love are the basis for this magnetic story – one that continues to pull the reader in until the very last word.  Aubree Walker, seeming orphan living with her Aunt Lottie in Suttontowne, LA avoids all personal relationships in hopes of running from her imperfect past by becoming the perfect person.  Booker Outlaw is just the opposite, he is a rebel without a cause, also running from a past where nothing but heartache, let-downs and lies are all he knows.  Together these two went through something no one should ever have to and together they hold a secret that could be the undoing of the entire town. When Aubree is called home by the Sheriff because of what seems like a somewhat “innocent” accident the situation eventually turns out to be so much more – and the secret that Aubree and Booker carry with them might just solve the who done it of Aunt Lottie’s accident.  Can Aubree face her past? Can Booker overcome his past and not become the one thing he so longs not to become? Can forgiveness help this young couple as they face the pangs of First Love?

These questions get answered along with so much more, while weaving a web that overlays our characters, pulling all of the answers out of the woodwork.  The reader is pulled into the action right from the beginning, however we are left wondering what is the secret the author hints at throughout the book. That being my one major frustration with this novel, Aubree kept bringing up the “incident on Old Magnolia Road” yet the reader is never enlightened to what happened on that night a year ago that almost thrust Aubree out of her hometown.  I kept finding myself wishing the book would finally get to the point, thankfully the answer is finally revealed later in the novel.  I get that it was a love story, telling the story of Aubree and Booker and how they come together – using the typical romantic story formula, girl reunites with boy who was crush of the past, situation the two need to overcome is ignored, they get hot and heavy, have sex, and BAM the situation to be ignored comes to the surface, boy and girl go their separate ways, they are once again thrust together, and well what do you know? They forgive and move on and are now in love and happy – it’s not reality- but yet it’s why we read romance novels to escape our reality isn’t it?

A Perfect Mess is one that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a love story with what I call “meat” to it, one that allows the reader to latch onto something other than the typical harlequin romance.  So much so that I am anxious for Zoe Dawson’s next book in the series.


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