by Cecy Robson
Series: Shattered Past #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected in Cecy Robson’s raw, steamy New Adult debut—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn. Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love. Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid. As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.
I am a huge Cecy Robson fan and love her Weird Girls series, so I was excited to try her debut in the new adult genre with Once Perfect. Once Perfect is the first in the Shattered Past series, and while I connected to the characters and rooted for them, aspects left me craving more.
- Mateo Tres Santos, bouncer and MMA fighter. This Latino lover was a real heart-throb. He comes from a broken home steeped in violence and tradition. His word shattered when his little sister was raped, but he has risen above and worked hard to protect his sisters and mother. Mateo or Teo as his friends call him, isn’t your typical bad boy, and I felt for him and yeah even swooned a little.
- Evelyn Preston was born into privilege and had everything taken away from her when her father took his life after his involvement in an embezzlement scandal was revealed. Her friends and family turned their backs on her, but Evelyn is one tough cookie She works as a bartender and is putting herself through nursing school. She suffers from panic attacks and is terrified of the dark, and I found this thread to be interesting and heartbreaking.
- Secondary characters from friends to siblings helped flesh out our couple and added a sense of extended family.
- Preventing rape and the side effects of rape are discussed, and I felt this was weaved successfully into the story.
- The romance felt genuine, and their struggles, success and spats felt genuine. I laughed and connected with them.
- I didn’t feel this had the same edge that Robson delivers in the Weird Girl Series.
- There were some over the top moments, cliché’ aspects and awkward conversations that felt slightly forced especially when secondary characters were involved. There were some eye-rolling moments that I questioned. Despite that, I genuinely enjoyed the tale and laughed, sighed and swooned.
- While the characters were diverse, I felt some of them despite their individual voices were pigeon holed into a certain stereotype.
- Cecy Robson delivers such fresh, intense urban fantasy and I think I set the bar to high on this one.
Fans of new adult and flawed characters will find Once Perfect to be a fast, enjoyable romance. Will I continue this series? Yes.
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