Mr. Perfect is a contemporary romantic suspense story by author Linda Howard. The heroine, Jaine Bright, goes out for dinner and drinks with three of her colleagues every Friday night to unwind after the long workweek. Jaine, Luna, Marci, and T.J. each work in different departments within a rather large company and are also very different women in personality as well as lifestyle. Jaine is single; Luna is in a hot and cold dating relationship with a superstar athlete; Marci is living with a younger boyfriend who is essentially her boy toy; and T.J. is married, but unsure if her marriage is still solid. During one of their Friday nights out, the three friends have some fun and make a list of eight requirements for their "Mr. Perfect." What starts out as a joke between friends soon gets out of hand when the list goes public and the nation has fun with it. Family members, husbands, and boyfriends aren't thrilled with the list or the exposure and relationships are put to the test. Then the situation quickly goes from unpleasant to horrific when someone starts stalking the four women and one of them is murdered. As the murder mystery unravels and the women fear for their lives, Jaine and her detective neighbor, Sam Donovan, fall for each other.
Jaine has recently moved into her first ever house and is having difficulty getting along with her single male neighbor, Sam Donovan. At first she suspects Sam is an alcoholic drug dealer based on his appearances and the hours he keeps. They set off each other's tempers so quickly and easily, yet despite the hostile tension between them, there is this undeniable heat and attraction between them as well. It isn't until Jaine finds out that Sam is a cop that she backs off a bit, reevaluates her hostility toward him, and attempts some civility.
The bickering that went back and forth between Jaine and Sam was quite entertaining and I found myself looking forward to the scenes they were in together just for their fast paced and heated dialogue. The shift from hot tempered bickering to playful banter was smooth and natural. I adored the way Sam was the one to keep his cool and the way he would try to kiss or touch Jaine when her temper would flare up. I think in one instance he even had to hide his laughter over her short fuse, which was very endearing. Although the author was able to accurately portray Sam as a sexy, irresistible cop next door, I wasn't convinced why Jaine was so sexually intimate with him at the drop of a hat. The first time they make out, she's practically humping him in her driveway! It just seemed way too fast and furious for someone who couldn't stand him just two days before. No matter how hot the cop is. ***Spoiler*** Sam also asks Jaine to marry him during sex and it was either the first or second time they were together. She has been engaged three times in the past to three different guys and she says yes to Sam now? That was too unrealistic to me. ***End Spoiler***
Ms. Howard did a great job at introducing the friends and establishing their inter-relationships right from the beginning when the women were in the restaurant making The List. She was also effective at portraying the relationships of Jaine's three friends with their respective partners in a fulfilling way that didn't detract from the romance between Jaine and Sam, and in fact contributed to the quality of the story. ***Spoiler*** One of my favorite scenes in the book is between secondary character Luna and her boyfriend Shamal when he came to her apartment to work things out between them. I thought their relationship was a goner and that scene just totally tugged at my heart. Which, of course, set me up for a dramatic shock and sorrow. ***End Spoiler***
The murder mystery was a bit predictable, but was integral at increasing the tension of the story and most importantly at keeping Sam involved in Jaine's life. The murder plot started out interesting, but once I figured out who the murderer was, that portion of the story started to fall flat for me. And I don't think it was because I figured out the murderere early, but because the murderer's profile was overboard for me with way too many creepy oddities. ***Spoiler*** I would have been more content with the murderer being some troubled loner who was constantly reminded by his mother that he would never be "Mr. Perfect," then have all those other wacky characteristics. It just seemed like the author tried to hard to make him scary and demented where a troubled loner would have worked just as well and have not come across as too unbelievable.***End Spoiler***
The story is a nice blend of romance, friendship, and how a little fun between friends can get out of hand and impact relationships. I liked it well enough, my favorite components being the relationships between the girlfriends and the bicker-turned-banter between Jaine and Sam. What didn't work for me was the murderer's extra wacky profile and the unrealistic pacing of from initial sexual intimacy to being in love to getting married.