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on September 11, 2005
ALMOST PERFECT is a great example of storytelling at its best. Ortolon captures the true emotion of love lost and found. This is a heartwarming demonstration of true love; even if our characters do not want to admit it at first. Just because Maddy and Joe haven't seen each other for years, doesn't mean their attraction has died. If anything, they are hyperaware of how things used to be.

It takes courage to face our worst fears, admit them and then do something about them. Not only does Maddy have an obligation to her friends, in their challenge; Joe has his own fear to face. In fact, I know this is "Maddy's story" but it was Joe who captured my heart. He loved Maddy so much, years ago, and she turned him away. Of course he's afraid to trust her with his heart again and Ortolon does not make their struggle to trust each other easy. These characters have to earn their Happily Ever After. I'm certain that's what makes this book so meaningful and gives it such depth. There's no fluff here. Yes, there are funny scenes, but these are "real people" with real emotions and no easy fixes. There are very poignant scenes in this book, that challenge the reader and make them aware that love isn't always easy, it's often uncomfortable, but true love is always worth it!

Well done, Ms. Ortolon!
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on March 1, 2009
I wish I had written this review a few months ago, when I read this book. I had never read a romance novel. I love adventure, battle, confrontation, and other guy stuff. I like to write fiction too, however, and happened to wonder what women as characters are actually like as depicted by women, for women. The novels I read are written by men, and depict women like other women have been depicted by other male writers these writers have read, to a great extent. Men are guessing when it comes to women, so I decided to read a romance novel, and since it was a trilogy, to buy all three.

This writer is a very good writer. She kept me turning the pages, and her prose is very moving. I like romance, but as a sub-plot to adventure. This was the first and only novel I've ever read which was focused almost totally on romance.

I'm not going to discuss the plot much. Presumably other reviewers have done that. What was interesting to me was what the women felt like, and how they talked to each other, or e-mailed with each other. I'm 61, so have a generation gap as well as a gender gap, but love is timeless, and adventure novels I read also deal with young, handsome men and young beautiful women.

Maddy is very appealing as a character, and very different from any depiction of a female I've ever encountered in a novel written by a male. These women are so different that I decided that it's probably better for male writers to keep creating females like they always have, since their readers might be kind of shocked if they portrayed women the way they actually are.

The male character is somewhat feminine, in my view. He's of course very physically masculine, and has the totally masculine history as an Army Ranger, but just as male writers create females the way they perhaps wish they were, female writers probably tend to create male characters the way they wish they were. This guy is so compassionate, loving, and great in almost every respect that I found it a bit unrealistic, and his obsession with love was a bit overdone, for me, as a male.

However, people vary infinitely, so such men certainly do exist, even if they are a bit rare; so given that we want a very appealing male character, I had no problem with it.

The author does need to learn a bit more about guy stuff. Her male character mentions that he saw the bullet which had struck him coming at him. That's impossible. Bullets travel at speeds of 3000 feet per second, and are very small. As a Vietnam veteran, I'm very familiar with this, and shooting; and if a writer is going to deal with ballistics and war, she should pay a bit more attention to it.

I had trouble putting the book down for the first half, and then was ready for them to get married, but Julie wasn't ready for that, and I did get a bit frustrated at all the problems which kept that from happening. I almost wanted to shout "Have pity on them. They've suffered enough."

Since this isn't the type of fiction I tend to enjoy, (or assumed I wouldn't for my whole life), I can't rare it 5 stars, since it's not as enjoyable to me as the kind of books I rate 5 stars. However, I almost gave it 5 stars, since for a book which contained almost none of the action and adventure I enjoy so much, I did enjoy it a great deal. She keeps you turning the pages, and writes very moving prose. She's simply a very good writer who wrote a very good story which kept me reading, and kept me entertained.

So much so, that a few weeks later, I picked up Just Perfect, and I read that one in a few days, so know about Christine, and inevitably I'll read too Perfect, to see what happens to Amy. My expectations were not high, and I was very surprised by how good this novel was; and at the same time I learned some things about the female mind, intellectually and emotionally, at least from the perspective of a popular writer who is a woman, and whose readers are women.

Mainly, I read a good story, and although I can't read these types of novels too often, it wouldn't surprise me if I read another one of hers at some point, after I finish this trilogy. I can't rate it for her readers, since I'm not a female, but as a reader of fiction, I thought it was very good.
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on February 10, 2012
If there was not so much profanity (Amazon would not let me give examples, because they were too awful) and the explicit, tell-it-all sex had been removed, this would have been a much better story. Had Joe and Maddy still been so attracted to one another but had refrained from actually having sex this time, the tension would have been higher, and the reader would have been held captive. I can't believe it was listed under Christian fiction. It is not!

The ending was also rather weak. Joe and Maddy still seemed to have a lot of unresolved problems and baggage. Yet, despite these overwhelming weaknesses, the story was otherwise well-crafted and the characters likable and interesting. If it was cleaned-up, I would give it a five.
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on September 8, 2005
Three best friends,former college roommates are thrilled for their author-friend/roommate on her best selling book, until they realize that she used them as examples of ... what NOT to do. They reluctantly decided she may be correct, so they set out to conquer their fears and hopefully reach their ultimate goal.

Joe and Maddy made me laugh, cry and want to shake some sense into them. In my opinion, that is a mark of an excellent book, where the writer engrosses the reader to the point where the reader is feeling what the characters are feeling. This book, I was unable to put down. A definite keeper!

I am eagerly waiting to read what happens to Maddy's other two friends, Christine and Amy as they struggle to overcome their fears as Julie Ortolon never disappoints. She is a must-read in my book.
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on April 14, 2011
An easy read but too predictable. Yes, this is a romance novel, but there was just constant sex here and there. No substance, no struggle, no depth to the story. Man gets mad, woman gets mad, fight turns to passionate sex. Didn't see THAT coming. Oh wait, he's mad again. Well, you know how the story ends. I'm not saying this was a horrible read, but it's just not a great read. I'm glad it was free otherwise I would have been seriously annoyed I paid for this instead of something I may have really enjoyed reading.
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on February 8, 2013
The vulgar language and swearing ruined the book, even though the story was good. I will not read this author's books again.
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VINE VOICEon April 23, 2011
This is the first of a 3 book series about college friends who challenge each other to get past their pasts. The characters start strong enough, but as the story unfolds they become more melodramatic. This story, about an artist who's afraid to excel, doestn't wash. Her 'realization' why she is afraid of success doesn't wash. About half-way through the book I thought, "Oh, get to the happily ever after and get it over with!"

I had to smile at the reviewer who thought this writer is a wonderful example of women's romance fiction. I agree with him: Ortolon's portrayal of men did not ring true. Neither do her women characters. I find it difficult to believe he had the guts to read all 3 of these books. This is not particularly good escapist fiction, with its whiny, wimpy characters and plodding plotting. Maybe it would have worked better tightened into a series of 3 novellas, with the 3 girls' stories bound together in one book. Even the un-developed 4th figure, the TV personality turned motivational speaker was fake. She bases her 'best-seller' on how to be happy on the examples of her 3 long-ago college suite-mates? If she's an expert, one would hope she has more character samples than this!

If this is your first foray into chick lit, try another sample. For the reviewer who apparently wants to brush up on his characterizations of women for his own writing, pick up better character writers. Nora Roberts comes to mind (books she wrote in the 70's and 80's, not the weird paranormal stuff she writes these last 15 or 20 years). Or Sandra Brown. Ortolon's psychodrama wimps are not what you want to model your adventure fiction females from!
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on June 18, 2011
I loved all three books in this trilogy. I think everyone wishes they had three good, lifelong friends. While each romance novel by itself is exciting, the bigger thrill is seeing each friend challenge one another. Their bond, and the men each end up with is what you read romance novels to achieve. That great feeling of contentment, excitement, and desire to have something similar in your own life. Great reads.
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on June 8, 2011
I learned from this purchase that you should ALWAYS preview a book before purchasing it! It was listed under "Christian Fiction". It is NOT a Christian book!! I only read a couple of chapters when the language and sex showed up. A waste of my money.
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on September 13, 2005
Almost Perfect is an absolutely delicious book, perfect from beginning to end.

Three college roommates got to the book signing of now famous fellow roommate. Maddy, Christine and Amy find themselves as examples as those who let fears rule their lives. They each make a deal to face their biggest feat in one years time.

Maddy Mills has let her fears and life put her are on the back burner. Her dare is to get her art in a gallery. She accepts an art director's job at a summer camp near artist haven Sante Fe. This plan has one major snag, her old high school flame Joe runs the camp for his mom.

Joe Frazer was not happy that his mom hired Maddy for the camp. Granted it had been over fifteen years since Maddy tore his heart out but it was a deep hurt. Seeing Maddy day to day was bad enough, even worse was Joe still wants Maddy anyway he can get her.

Joe and Maddy call a truce when their passion is hotter then it was before. They have worked through some of their old issues but not all the ghost from the past have been laid to rest.

Julie Ortolon has written a wonderful, sizzling, heart warming tale. Her books are special that they will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. Looking forward to Christine and Amy's stories in the next few months.
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