The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood ***1/2

I’ve been sent a bunch of books by different people asking me to review them and so, you dear readers, will be stuck reading a bunch of reviews.  That’s how this works, after all.  I get asked to read something, I read it, I write a review, and then you read that.  Vicious cycle, really.

Julie Garwood’s book, The Ideal Man, falls under the categories of mystery and romance.  I figured one out of two of my norm wasn’t so bad.  Then my friend pointed out that the romantic lead was an FBI agent and that he’s chasing down a modern day Bonnie and Clyde pair and falls for a girl who’s stalked by a nut job.  I was like, “Okay…sounds more appealing.”  Then my friend said, “And by the way, the girl isn’t flaky.  She’s a brilliant doctor who doesn’t realize how gorgeous she is.”  I was sold on reading the book.

On the plus side: The plot was fun.  Both the main characters and the side characters were believable.  The characters were more realistic and had more psychology going on than I expected.  I came to really like Max–who is built like a mountain, quiet but sharp, and is both fiercely protective and kind at the same time.  I like that he had a bit of a rough past but that the family who adopted him was loving.  I like that he was strong enough to tell her when she had to listen to his better judgement as well as strong enough to know that he needed to compromise.  I also came to really like Ellie, whose history makes he both afraid to love and desperately in need of it (even if she doesn’t realize the latter).  I like the fact that she’s so smart that she went to college at twelve but that it doesn’t make her a total dunce emotionally as an adult.  I like that having a crazy stalker who tried to kill her as a kid has an effect on every single member in her family and that she tries to protect them as best as she can.  I like that her twin sisters had opposite personalities and that both had their own problems that they were dealing with.

On the minus side: I was a little confused at first by how often and without warning the point of view shifted and, because of that, it felt a bit choppy to me.  It sometimes took me a couple of sentences to figure out who was talking now, but typically, the voices were distinct.  I wanted the book to be a little longer and more drawn out because I wanted to see a little more of background.  We got told about when Ellie was a little girl, but I wanted to have a flashback or two.  I wanted to see how she felt when she had to move away from her family and I wanted a little more interaction with the people who took her in.  I also wanted a little more on the cases, but that’s just me loving a hard-boiled detective story and more cop/fed shows than you could shake a stick at.  On the other hand, if someone says that they want more, it’s always a good thing from a writer’s point of view.

Overall, I would recommend this book.  It had enough going on that the romance was just one of the many plots, albeit a pretty significant one.  I enjoyed being in the characters’ heads.  It was a fun romp on a cold, rainy afternoon and it was a fun introduction to a new author.

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