Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Sean Sullivan seems like the perfect man. He’s a middle school principal and loves his job. He is gorgeous, in shape, and has a heart of gold. Attracting guys is not his problem. His problem is, when they find out he is HIV positive, they generally run for the hills. Years of disappointment have left Sean closed off to the idea of meeting someone who is able to accept him for every part of him, including his HIV status.
When Sean becomes involved in a domestic abuse case that affects one of his favorite students, he meets Emery Benton, a case worker from Child Protective Services. The two feel an immediate attraction, but need to keep things professional for the case. Without meaning to, they start spending more time together and talk about the spark they’re feeling for each other. It becomes a force that neither can ignore, so Sean feels like he needs to be up front, knowing he’ll probably be left in the dust as he has many times before. He’s not counting on Emery. Emery is strong and knows what he wants and won’t take no for an answer. He pursues Sean with a ferocity that Sean wasn’t expecting.
Meanwhile, these two sensitive, amazing men are wrapped around this case that is one problem after another. Even if they want to pull away from each other, the case keeps bringing them back together. And through it all, Sean is struggling with his feelings about being HIV positive. He’s healthy and thinks he’s dealt with it emotionally, but realizes that it has affected him much more seriously than he ever thought. We see him process and process some more, while Emery tries to become part of his life. It’s a struggle, but one that needs to happen in order for Sean to be the man he needs and wants to be for Emery.
There are some really great things happening in this book. First, this is the first book I’ve ever read in the vast m/m romance genre which deals head-on with a healthy HIV positive man. It was touching to see his struggle and the emotional and mental anguish he suffered, yet at the same time, Sean was successful, healthy, and desirable. It was not the end of his life, it was just part of it and one that he dealt with quite well.
In that same regard, Starr mentions before the book begins that, while it’s a story dealing with HIV, it’s really meant for anyone who thinks they aren’t good enough to have what they deserve. I really saw this theme throughout the book and I think it’s such a good one to emphasize. Anyone could connect with Sean in some way because, at some point in their life, they have felt less than. Less than worthy, less than desirable, less than perfect. And the title says it all: Perfect for Me. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be the perfect person for the one you love.
Emery Benton is everything. He’s good-looking, hard-working, committed to an unglamorous but highly needed profession, and he’s able to look past everything and see Sean for who he is. And when Sean wants to push him away, he’ll be damned if he’s going to let that happen. It’s impossible not to love Emery. Everyone dreams of the person who will fight for him, and Emery is that guy. He makes Sean a better person too, which for a guy pretty close to perfection himself, is quite a feat.
I did have some serious problems with the mechanics and storyline of this novel, which is what kept it from having a better rating. One of my major problems with it is the sex scenes. They felt clunky to me, and used terms that I just can’t abide in writing. Like “member.” I realize there aren’t a lot of terms for this particular area of the male body, but stick to repetition rather than use terms that seem so harlequin romance to the me, it takes me out of the scene.
Also, since these men spend most of the novel trying to decide if they can make it work, there are very few sex scenes together. Instead, the author relies on fantasy sex scenes or dream sex scenes, which I just don’t like. Because I know that the characters have not truly come together in a real sense, it lacks the chemistry and connection that makes a sex scene sizzle. I found myself skimming these parts rather than being caught up in them.
I understand that Sean had turmoil going on, but it got a bit frustrating. There was a lot of talking between the two of them — discussing why they could work, why they wouldn’t work, why they’re attracted to each other, etc. — and not enough action. It started to feel a little cyclical. Just as soon as the relationship made progress, it would turn back and start at the beginning again. I appreciate a story that makes you wait. I have no problem with that. But there needs to be a better reason for them to stay apart, and, in this case, I just wasn’t feeling it.
Overall, I’d recommend this story if only because it dealt with a difficult theme in a really positive way. It also contains some great characters, including a foster mom who could kick ass and give bear hugs with equal efficiency. Yes, it has some problems. But overall it’s a good read I think you’ll enjoy.