Nothing Short of Perfect is a Harlequin Desire by Day LeClaire, published in 2011. The Desire series has wealthy attractive heroes, and features plots where sex is important, but the acts are not described in detail. This book is part of the Billionaires and Babies line, which I wish I’d noticed when I bought it. I’m only out 33 cents, so no great loss. I find billionaire heroes too unrealistic, and babies often mean excesses of awkwardness in their creation and cuteness in their role.
Even for a billionaire hero/father, Justice is unrealistic. He’s a computer genius running a software company, which is fine, but he has no apparent involvement in the company. His day consists of tinkering with robots in the basement of a remote compound. He’s also logical to the point of absurdity, which is fine, and I think it’s supposed to be funny, but despite his extreme social awkwardness and lack of sensitivity he’s fantastic in bed. Sure.
Daisy, the mother of his child, doesn’t need his money, which I should be relieved about. She has enough for herself, their baby, a live-in housekeeper, and a fostered teenage girl. She’s made all this money writing illustrated children’s books. Sure.
As for the plot that brings these two together, there are too many coincidences and conveniences, oddly thrown away details, and a little too much back story. Justice and Daisy met as teens, when Daisy’s parents fostered Justice. The combination of teenage hormones and proximity leads to what you might expect. Justice and Daisy obtain matching tattoos and spend a glorious night at the beach, free of bugs and any first time clumsiness. Daisy’s parents were surprised by this development, and separate the couple. To complicate matters, Daisy lied about her age to Justice, creating problems for him, and they were separated without full explanations. This history would make a great YA novel.
Ten years later, Daisy chances upon a lecture being given by Justice, and manages to see him again. He is now a very wealthy computer genius, and on the hunt for a mate. She’s still single (why?). Justice doesn’t remember Daisy, thanks to a car accident, and thanks to a mistaken identity situation, he thinks she is a potential mate selected by his custom written mate seeking software. They enjoy a wild night, without any consideration for birth control or safe sex in general, but then he remembers who she is when he sees her tattoo. Recalling the trouble he thinks she caused, he refuses to see her again.
By the way, I don’t have any trouble with passion being so strong that mundane issues like birth control and safe sex are neglected. Desire happens. But I’m not seeing a lot of desire in the verbal foreplay.
Justice: Do you want the lights on or off when I remove your clothes?
Daisy: Oh, yes.
Justice: Maybe I’ll leave them off and see you wearing nothing but the sunset.
Daisy: Then you’d better hurry because it’s almost gone.
Justice: I don’t hurry. Not when it comes to something as important as this.
Daisy: Oh Justice, I was so afraid. … Whether you had changed. At first, I thought –
Justice: That I had.
Daisy: How did you know?
Justice: It seemed the logical conclusion.
Daisy: And you have have changed. It’s natural, I suppose, since change is inevitable over time.
Justice: An astute observation.
A few years later, Daisy tracks him down, in his remote hidden compound, to present him with his daughter. This is where the story finally begins. Daisy moves in with Justice and his even more reclusive uncle, along with her daughter, foster daughter, housekeeper, and cat. She and Justice share the house by day, according to a complex set of rules, and share a bed at night. But will there ever be love? Will Daisy stay? Who cares? I didn’t. I wanted Daisy to run away with the guy that moved in some furniture, did some renovations, and let slip a minor secret about Justice. He was more honest and respectful than Justice.
I think the last straw was when the housekeeper hosted a bridge game for the ladies from town. First the book asked me to accept that the hero lives in a location so remote and secret that it takes years for a computer genius to find him. That’s a stretch, but okay. There is a scene that makes clear that the house is hard to find, even when you know where it is. Then, once I’ve accepted the remote location, the book asks me to believe that the housekeeper has somehow met folks from a town, and that it’s no problem for them to come to the house. I understand that allowing them to visit demonstrates how Justice is loosening up, thanks to his Victorian angel in the house, but that doesn’t change the geography of the hard to find house.
There’s also a slightly creepy theme (other than the semi-incestuous meet). Sure, it’s romantic that Justice and Daisy ended up together after all this time, but also suspiciously conservative and traditional. On the bright side, there is an acknowledgement that sometimes who we think we want is not necessarily the best choice, and that love works in mysterious ways. That recognition can be a sign of character growth and maturity, but here it’s almost a grudging acknowledgement that people are not computers. No more billionaires and babies for me.