Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mr (Not Quite) Perfect, or How Men Are Pressured to be Perfect Too

What do women really want?
Journalist Allegra Fielding has a problem. She’s pitched a story to her boss – how to transform a not-so-perfect man into Prince Charming – and now she has to deliver! But where is she going to find a man willing to take part in a makeover? Time to blackmail her flatmate, Max...
But Allegra’s cunning plan backfires spectacularly when Max refuses to be ‘perfected’! He’s a guy who knows what he likes, and he’s going to enjoy proving to Allegra that there’s nothing hotter than a man who’s a little rough around the edges...

I love this idea of a not-so-perfect hero.  Of course we know, even if it does take Allegra forever to realise it, that Max is utterly perfect for her.  The concept of creating the perfect man though, does raise some interesting issues.

In some ways this works as an inverted My Fair Lady, with Allegra as a zany Professor Higgins, just as densely attempting to reinvent someone who is perfect just as they are.  We forget sometimes that there is pressure on men to be the idealised version of manhood that’s touted in magazines and in the media, just as there is for women.

We’re told that the perfect man is sensitive, can read our minds, cook and dance.  The perfect man would forgo watching football in order to curl up on the sofa with us and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.

Sometimes, we’re so caught up in what seems perfect or ideal, that we don’t see what is in front of us.

And this is what Hart addresses.  She has her hero be male, but completely opposite (and occasionally even adverse to) Allegra’s idea of the perfect man.  She makes us challenge the way we look at our partners and question why we can sometimes unintentionally push people to be someone they’re not.

By the end of the novel, Allegra and Max accept each other for who they really are, as opposed to who they want each other to be, and that seems very special.

In a society which is continually pushing us to be the perfect, idealised, lobotomised version of ourselves that in reality bears little resemblances to who we really are, this is a breath of fresh air.  Brilliant.

Plus there’s a scene in a taxi that almost made me combust on the Tube… ;)

This month's Mills & Boon Boy, Tony is more than capable of holding his own, especially when reading ModernTempted books!

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