For Grace Mills, life would be easier if she were just a little skinnier. If she were a little thinner, maybe she could catch the eye of the hot guy at the gym. Maybe then she could turn a profit at the bakery she co-owns with her sister. Unfortunately, Grace is not a little skinnier, and Max, the guy at the gym, doesn’t know she exists. When Grace passes out on the treadmill at the gym, she wakes up a different person–literally. Suddenly she’s straddling two lives: one where she’s regular old Grace, who has caught the eye of the cute gym janitor Carlos, and one where she’s Callie, a skinny weather girl engaged to Max. Deciding which path is right for her is the question, and Grace isn’t sure she has the answer.
Here’s the thing about Fichera’s fairly innocuous contemporary romance with a fantastical bent: had I read this book about ten years ago, I would have probably loved it. Back when I was a teenager, I tore through chick lit like my life depended on it. In my twenties, I flirted with literary fiction for a while before settling into my preferred area of YA fiction. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still enjoy books outside of the YA canon, but I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that falls solidly in the chick-lit-romance genre. Craving Perfect fits the bill.
To be fair, it wasn’t an unpleasant read. The fact that the actual plot doesn’t make a lick of sense isn’t something that Fichera nor her characters seem to be concerned with, so struggling with the concept of a magical treadmill is completely my own obstacle. Grace herself is a likable enough character, and the characters of Carlos and his sister are particularly well done. The pacing is quick, the writing straightforward, and the plot is predictable but oddly satisfying.
So yes, it was enjoyable, but I didn’t love it. I kept getting tripped up by how fast-and-loose Fichera played with the magical elements of the story. I also struggled with how completely flat and one-dimensional the story’s antagonists were. There was no complexity to the characters that populated the alternate world in which Grace finds herself in. Readers aren’t supposed to root for the shallow, shady Max, and Fichera makes sure that this issue is black and white. I like a little depth to my stories, and if there’s a love triangle, there should be some complexity to it.
This won’t bother most romance fans, though. This is a light, fluffy romance that’s best enjoyed by readers who are okay with not thinking too critically about the characters and events transpiring. There’s some chemistry and heat between the two main characters, and that should be enough to sustain most readers through to the final page.
Craving Perfect by Liz Fichera. Carina Press: 2011. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.