Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
“Perfectly Imperfect” by Darlene Winston is just about all you could ask for in a contemporary novel: decent writing, good drama, great suspense, and compelling characters. This book reminds us so much of some of the all-time greats like “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier and “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Something else we appreciated about this book was the length. This book is just the right length to tell a good story without going overboard and testing the reader's patience. There's a healthy supply of twists and turns in this novel without being overwhelming. All in all, this seems like a very balanced novel, thoroughly engaging and entertaining all around.
It's like an episode of Maury!
The following contains spoilers, so please be forewarned.
Let's get into the characters. The novel stars Andre, a generally good guy with a mega mojo, and his supportive, loving girlfriend, KC. KC is the MVP of this novel for no other reason than she puts up with Andre and his baby mama drama with the patience of a saint. Something that's pretty exciting to see is that despite being a Christian, KC is far from prudish. She is a proudly sexual being who is madly in love with her man and in tune with her body. In a lot of ways, KC is the most “human” character in the novel. She's the one who is often emotionally conflicted, and she shares many of the same feelings and apprehensions that many readers will have. For example, she can smell BS from a mile away and treats situations with a level of caution that Andre seems to lack. Although the novel is mostly focused on Andre and his struggle, KC seems to be the more complex character because she's the one who seems to have the most options. Will she let go or will she hold on? Will the drama push her away or pull her closer?
Andre, meanwhile, is Mr. Determinism. He is a very decisive person, which is surprising given his predicament. While KC seeks the second opinion of a friend to figure out what to do, Andre is more than willing to accept that things are the way that they are and he's going forward with the plan regardless. He is actually pretty frustrating in that sense, but it makes for good tension.
Something about their relationship is that you can really feel the love and passion that the two feel for each other. This is partly because the sex they have is frequent and intense. It's also that their conversations are usually also passionate.
With all that said, even with Andre being the main character and KC being the most compelling protagonist, the real star of the novel is the villain, Desirae. The novel starts out with her funeral, but her “ghost” continues to figuratively haunt all the characters in the novel in various ways. We learn about her by the way the other characters talk about her—almost always with hush or angry tones. Even her mom and sister seem to despise her to an extent while still mourning her. We progressively learn more and more about Desirae and what a terror she was as Andre's ex and the mother of his child, Logan, whom she kept a secret for four years. We learn that she shot Andre out of anger and jealousy over his relationship with KC, nearly killing him. She constantly physically, mentally, and psychologically abuses the lead couple. She even sets up a clever ruse, then manipulates everyone and mocks them from a safe distance. She does this all with a cold, chilling calculatingness that would make a serial killer's skin crawl.
At the same time, there's a scary sense of humanity in Desirae. She is a monster, yet she's not a complete monster. There are times when there seems to be a human being under all of those tentacles and fangs, a human being who seems partly capable of loving her ex-boyfriend and son—even capable of gaining forgiveness and/or redemption. We hate to admit it, but we are torn in our reaction to her fate. Is it possible to feel bad for a despicable person? There seemed to be some hope for her, and it's quite tragic what happened.
Somewhat hilariously, we're treated to a bunch of chatty church women who remind us of the gossipy women in Disney's Hercules who keep singing about what's going on. Also somewhat humorously, the author decided to double-space everything as if submitting a college essay. That gave us a good chuckle.
There's also a moment of comedy gold in which Andre's twin sister says the following in regards to Desirae:
“If I thought it would make me feel better, I’d dig her ass up with my bare hands and beat the shit out of her and stomp her backdown until I am satisfied that she’d made it all the way to hell!”
All in all, this is a very entertaining read!
Check it out on Amazon!