THE PERFECT MAN – SHEILA O’FLANAGAN

From a bestselling brand author comes a captivating novel about family ties, romance and leaving the past behind. This takes place on a romantic cruise ship in the Caribbean. Britt McDonagh, the successful author of a novel also entitled The Perfect Man, has been invited on board to present a series of talks and workshops about successful romantic writing. This feels quite uncomfortable for Britt as she believes herself to be the least romantic person on earth and much less so than her sister Mia whom she has invited along as her assistant. Mia’s life is almost the total opposite of Britt’s, living in a rundown villa in Spain with her young daughter Allegra. Where there is order and success in Britt’s life, in Mia’s there’s chaos and uncertainty. The sisters feel that they have little in common but as the cruise progresses on its spectacular journey they gradually get to know each other better and start to respect each other’s choices and lifestyles.

No cruise could be complete without at least a hint of romance and although this is a Valentine cruise with most of the guests already in couples, there is always the broody Leo Tyler, who is desperately trying to make sense of recent events in his life, and Steve Shaw, the handsome cruise director. Set against the opulence of the cruise ship and the natural beauty of the Caribbean, it all makes for fascinating reading.

Once the cruise is over, each sister returns home to Dublin and Spain and each has a lot of soul-searching to do as their time on board ship has forced them to examine where they are in life and to make decisions. The big question for both sisters though is whether or not they have found ‘the perfect man’?

I really enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up and it didn’t take long before I was completely caught up in the lives of the sisters. Both were extremely likeable, and as I read, I was really hoping that things would work out well for them and especially that they could resolve their differences with each other. Watching their relationship develop made very enjoyable reading for me.

The storyline was absorbing with lots going on as the novel progressed. It was the sort of book that kept you guessing to the very end but I have to say that I was very pleased with how it all turned out for everyone. There was some excellent description as the cruise ship passed through the Panama Canal. Also, this setting allowed the author to introduce a diverse but fun collection of minor characters all enjoying their own cruising experience. I equally loved reading the chapters about Britt’s workshops as she attempted to explain the process she went through writing the novel. Also when she returns home we see her struggling to come up with another book and watching her go through all her thought processes was fascinating.

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