Friday, September 26, 2014
Dreams of Perfection – The Quest for Mr. Perfect
Every woman dreams of her perfect man, detailing their every aspect: haircut, eye colour, hand size, job, even their scent and favourite perfume.
In Dreams of Perfection by Rebecca Heflin, romance-writer Darcy Butler creates perfect men in her steamy novels. However, Darcy is not so lucky with real-life men; she divorced after catching her fiancé and husband-to-be cheating on her a few days before their wedding.
Her soon-to-be-released The Doctor's Dilemma is no exception, with its protagonist Dr. Blake Garrett being perfect for Darcy, acting as her reference sample when considering or dating men.
But what happens when Mr. Perfect leaps from the pages and materialises into Darcy's fairly-ordered life? Is he as perfect as she hopes? Does he have the perfect kiss?
The novel also opens with Josh, Darcy's best friend, long-time family friend and lawyer at her father's firm, who realises he is in love with Darcy but cannot muster the courage to tell her, whilst also fearing to break apart their friendship.
One of the most memorable chapters in Dreams of Perfection is chapter four, where Darcy agrees to go on a blind date with a friend of a friend. She is to meet with a 'Kempton Bell'.
"Kempton Bell. Kempton. What kind of name was that? She wondered" (p. 17)
The reader cannot help but agree with Darcy's thoughts. She agrees to meet Mr. Bell and what follows is a super hilarious chapter. Heflin's sense of humour is put to good use here. Darcy's blind date is a man who cuts to the chase. He doesn't say Hi or Hello but cuts straight to "Pretty", "you dress too provocatively" and "that won't be necessary once we're married… you won't have time [for your writing] with all the social and charitable commitments you'll be undertaking as my wife." (p. 18) These words are said in the first few minutes of the date or rather 'meeting'; after his otherworldly order from the waitress. That and he hands her his resume and "recommendations" from his ex-wife!
A short while later, Darcy meets the man of her dreams "literally". He mysteriously leaps from the cover of her book to real life. One of the lines and images that stood out for me was from Josh's point of view when he sees Mr. Perfect wrap his arms around Darcy: "He felt the familiar fangs of jealousy puncture his heart." (p. 44). I love alliteration and beautiful imagery; this line combined both and hit the spot.
She tells Josh "Don't worry about me. My hero has come to life. I don't know how or why and frankly, I don't care. I only know I've been waiting for Mr. Right, and here he is, in the flesh, only he's Dr. Right. Who better than the man of my dreams, quite literally?" (p. 44-45)
Naturally, Josh is suspicious of Mr. Perfect/Dr. Blake Garrett and seeks to prove him a fraud, causing additional tension in his relationship with Darcy.
Order and commitments begin to fall apart and strong friendship ties start to strain with the appearance of this new and dazzling fictional stranger, who may not be around much but nonetheless consumes all of Darcy's time.
As the title indicates, Dreams of Perfection tackles the idea of perfection. Darcy's imagined Blake Garrett and the real-life Doctor collide but slowly. At one point, and appearing like party-pooper, Darcy asks Blake why they never argue. The reader realises that the absence of arguing makes life seem perfect; however it is essential in every relationship. After all, a utopia is boring.
Despite being a bestselling romance writer, Darcy is unaware that her books are mere fantasy for her readers. Her idle attempt at finding Mr. Perfect blinds her to what is right in front of her.
Moreover, I felt Darcy is rather selfish. One cannot help but feel sorry for Josh – a lot. One realises that work and boyfriend tend to take most of a person's time. Still, Darcy becomes exceptionally absorbed with Blake, she forgets everyone else, including Josh and Laura and her usual outings with them. The relationship also makes her abandon many baseball games with Josh – although she feels bad about it. Still, Darcy does not attempt to make a compromise when she gets a new boyfriend. The number of times she skips or ditches games with Josh for her dates or commitments with Blake make her appear selfish and insensitive. However, they play a role in her transformation.
When she sits with her Aunt Rosie, Darcy comes to a revelation:
"Her own dreams of princes and white horses, of perfect alpha-male heroes and being swept off her feet seemed childish and silly when compared to what her aunt and uncle had. Mr. Right didn't have to be perfect. He just had to be perfect for her. Like Uncle Al was for Aunt Rosie." (p. 221)
Heflin's Dreams of Perfection bears many fairy-tale aspects, and though it has a happy ending, Mr. Perfect is not the one who gets the prize, making it a sort of fairy-tale in reverse or a twist in the tale.
Heflin maintains an excellent tension-relief-comedy model throughout her novel. She has a very good sense of humour, whether through scenes, or more often through Darcy's sarcastic inner voice. Moreover, Darcy's best friends, Laura and Josh constantly tease one another creating lots of humour for the reader and later jealousy for Darcy.
Dreams of Perfection is an excellent novel of love, maturity – past the age of 30 – self-discovery and perfection. Its short chapters make it an easy and quick must read.
For more, check out the author Rebecca Heflin on Twitter.