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Book CoverHolly‘s review of A Not-So-Perfect Past by Beth Andrews
Contemporary Romance released by Harlequin SuperRomance 14 Apr 09

Beth Andrews is a fairly new Harlequin author, this being her second release with them. I liked the blurb so figured I’d give it a try. I think I may have suffered a bit for not reading her debut novel, Not Without Her Family, since I believe it probably offered quite a bit of backstory on the hero that was absent in this one.

I think Dillon was a very complex character. Because he was convicted of killing his step-father and spent several years in prison he is very cynical and hard. His experiences since he’s been home haven’t done much to change his attitude either. Yet underneath it all, he’s still managed to retain his common decency and innate goodness. Though he’s afraid to reach for it, he craves love and stability just as much as the next person. I loved that though he was a wonderful man underneath he was rough around the edges. Sometimes this works for the heroes of our novels and sometimes it doesn’t. Andrews made it work.

As the book beings we see that Nina is mostly a doormat. Her ex-husband and family run roughshod over her while she sits back and lets them. She thinks to herself that she should be stronger and stand up to them, but she never does. They tell her what to do in regards to everything: Dillon Ward, her tenant that lives above her bakery, her kids, her career, everything. I found myself becoming very frustrated with her for not standing up for herself, but I was furious with her for not standing up for her children. Her ex-husband was very verbally abusive to her and that carried over to her children.

To be fair, I don’t think she realized he was treating her children as badly as he was. Unfortunately that doesn’t do much to take my frustration from her because it was fairly obvious. I think she just didn’t want to see how bad it was. To make matters worse, in an attempt to prove herself – though I’m not quite sure to who – she began to take on massive amounts of work, further bogging herself down and taking her away from her children. She did show quite a bit of growth in the end, but I kind of felt like it was too little, too late.

I like the two of them together. They really brought out the best in each other. Dillon encouraged Nina to stand up for herself and take charge of her own life. She showed him it was okay to open up. Although I disliked the way Nina let other people take advantage of her, I liked that with Dillon’s help she was able to stand strong on her own.

I also really liked her children and the other secondary characters, with the exception of Nina’s ex, who was a complete ass, and her father, who didn’t redeem himself in my eyes. Her older sister and the teenager who has to make restitution by rebuilding her shop with Dillon were great additions, however. I also really enjoyed Dillon’s sister. So much so that I plan to buy her book.

I had issues with Nina, but I think Dillon and the secondary characters saved the story in the end.

holly.jpgGrade: C+

Everyone makes mistakes…but he isn’t looking for redemption
He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…
Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody pulled out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn’t stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he’s just the man to fix the damage.
And Nina isn’t the only one who thinks Dillon’s the perfect man for the job: her two kids have taken a shine to him. Still, she can’t afford to get close to Dillon, even if he is tempting her to toss out her good girl shoes. Because it’s not that she doesn’t trust him. It’s that she doesn’t trust herself.
Read an excerpt.