Picture Perfect is a contemporary novel that takes place during the rebuilding/revitalization of New Orleans post hurricane Katrina. The heroine Alex (Alexis) is a twenty something year old African American interior designer desperately trying to rebuild her design business. However, like many of the real life victims of Katrina, she is having major issues with money and the insurance company.
Alex is also facing self doubt about her decision to stick it out in New Orleans, a city she loves. She was offered an opportunity of a lifetime when the hero, Elliot, who is part of the Black elite, wants her to redesign his mansion in preparation for his upcoming new life as the soon to be husband to the beautiful yet conniving Rachel, a prominent attorney in New Orleans who has been “hand picked” by Elliot’s mother. Elliot, who is adopted, always goes along with whatever his overbearing snob mother orders, including who he is to marry. Unfortunately, Elliot has this strong need to please his adopted family because he feels that he owes them for their kindness.
Predictably, there is a strong immediate attraction between Alex and Elliot. However, Alex is not Rachel, in that she is an “outsider” and dresses and acts to her own “tune” which is in bright colors and high tops etc. Rachel is only interested in Elliot Walker’s money and family name. In fact, she hires her scum bag cousin to spy on Elliot. She is cold and even plans on killing Elliot after they are married to get his fortune.
The biggest issue with this contemporary novel is this “hold” the Walker family has on Elliot’s decision making. Even though he is adopted into a wealthy family, the author made it clear that Elliot is rich and successful in his own right. I could understand if this was back in the 1700’s, when one’s family and reputation could do harm to the finances and social standing. However, this is the 21st century! It made Elliot seem less attractive and less masculine. There should have been something much bigger holding him to his engagement to Rachel, not just honoring the family name or hurting Rachel. It wasn’t a big enough obstacle to overcome in today’s world to be with the woman he loves.
The other big issue I had was with the heroine, Alex. She was a graduate of Spelman and owned her own business. However, for a smart woman, she repeatedly allowed Elliot in her bedroom, knowing he was engaged to Rachel. She did not require anything in return. She just had this wishful thinking that maybe he’d get some “balls” and confront his family and dump Rachel and be with her. This was quite annoying, because I really wanted to like/respect her. The sex scenes were good, but I just felt that Alex was a weak woman. The author attempted to make her look strong by the way she doesn’t cower to the Walker family when confronted and dealing with the foreclosure of her home, but it was not enough. It would have been good if she denied sexual privileges to Elliot at least once, kicked him out of the house once, punched him, or refused his phone calls once or twice.
The relationship and banter between Rachel and his scum bag cousin was well played and quite entertaining. There were a couple of action scenes that were well written that kept the story moving along. There was a somewhat satisfying ending in that Elliot and Alex officially get together and family secrets are revealed.
Overall, it was an average read. If you like a strong heroine, you may find Alex a tad annoying. However, if you like a cold-hearted villain, you will enjoy Rachel.
-Reviewed by Pamela