Review: Her Perfect Mate, by Paige Tyler

Her Perfect Mate

I received a copy of Her Perfect Mate, by Paige Tyler, from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Their attraction is more dangerous than any weapon of mass destruction.

When Special Forces Captain Landon Donovan is chosen for an assignment with the Department of Covert Operations, he’s stunned to find his new partner is a beautiful woman who looks like she couldn’t hurt a fly, much less take down a terrorist.

Ivy Halliwell isn’t your average covert op. Her feline DNA means she can literally bring out the claws when things get dicey. She isn’t thrilled to be paired with yet another military grunt, but Landon is different. He doesn’t think she’s a freak-and he’s smokin’ hot. Soon they’re facing a threat even greater than anyone imagines… and an animal magnetism impossible to ignore.

Review:

Reading is subjective and what one person likes another won’t. Thank goodness we all know this, because I have to admit that, despite generally good reviews, I pretty much hated this book. More accurately, I hated the character portrayals, Ivy especially.

The short version is that weak, teary, insecure heroines who are supposed to be top agents but spend all their time jumping to ridiculous, self-effacing conclusions and whinging, make me want to scratch my own eyes out with a dulled lemon zester.

Pair them with a man, described as practically god-like and allowed to makes all the decisions for himself and, said, pretend strong female lead and I’m ready to throw my head in an electric mixer instead. I’m just totally baffled how anyone could think this is the type of pairing self-assured women would want to relate to.

I considered casting the book on the DNF pile at ~35%. At this point Ivy had made what she perceived to be a mistake on a mission. When her partner appears angry she got teary, emotional and evasive. The reader was then subjected to pages of her weepy self-recriminations and ridiculously jumping to conclusions. All this followed by giving in to her passion for Landon.

Said another way, the author took a supposedly strong female character, broke her down and proved her to in fact be extremely fragile (as all women apparently should be) then threw her in the arms of a man. All this as if to suggest that given a stressful situation Ivy couldn’t be expected to control her emotions too and that the man’s sexual appreciation would prove her self-worth and, as Landon seemed to find it all so darned attractive, it must really be OK in the end anyway. Gag, I say. GAG!

When I pick up a book with a purported strong, skilled heroine, that’s what I want, not some weepy pseudo-damsel in distress whose only evidence of inner strength comes from the compliments of the hero.

Speaking of our hero, Landon, he can apparently do no wrong. Perfect hardly scratches his surface. He is utterly and unbelievably unflappable. Come on, finding out that your new partner is a shifter, when you didn’t even know they existed, requires at least one expletive. It just does! But he never even cocked an eyebrow. Plus, he’s gorgeous, ripped, polite, loyal, trustworthy, good in bed, tough, dangerous, sexy, etc. He needs a flaw…at least one.

But the thing that pushed me over the top, that made me go from grumbling discontent to flat out hostile dislike was seeing the two of them interact. Landon joined the DOC in the beginning of the book. Ivy however had worked for them for a number of years. So, even though he’s plenty experienced in the military, he’s the newbie to the DOC and what they do. HOWEVER, not once (pay attention, NOT ONCE) does she make a plan, give an instruction or take the decision-making role in one of their missions.

They are supposed to be partners, but behaviourally she’s his subordinate…DESPITE HER SENIORITY. I guess that vagina negates it, because he’s definitely in charge and she’s just barely hanging on as a sidekick. Plus, in addition to all her internal insecurities (that she really shouldn’t have if she’s a valued, experienced field agent and has been a shifter since birth) she’s shown to be inept repeatedly while Landon makes no such mistakes. There is a definite sense that the woman in this situation really needs a man to take care of her and her job because she obviously can’t cut it on her own. What kind of Bologna is that? The kind that’s been dogging women for generations. Dare I say it again…GAG!

And it only got worse. Not only was Ivy inept, insecure, prone to jumping to conclusions and endlessly second guessing herself, she also wasn’t even competent enough to control HERSELF. It was amazing how many times the phrase “she couldn’t help herself,” or something similar was used in reference to her. (But almost never for Landon, I might add.)

Then there was the sorry excuse for sexual control. The whole idea of being ‘in heat'(which was never established to be a sure thing, just an excuse really) felt a whole lot like the recurring ‘women can’t control their urges’ BS that backdoors permission for a whole hell of a lot of problematic behaviour.

So, she can’t control her animal side, she can’t control her self-emulating thoughts, she can’t control her own sexual urges, she doesn’t control their mission…what can she control? **That’s the sound of silence, yeah?**

Moving past the painful gender disparities of this book, the fact that she is a natural-born shifter is also problematic, since there is no world building. There’s no indication that shifters are kept super secret in general, Ivy’s sister is living a normal life and other shifters have normal jobs, for example. But it is inferred that no one knows about them.  The DOC doesn’t want her blood work (DNA) seen by the CDC, for example. Certainly, Landon didn’t seem to have known shifters exist. Um, how does that work then? I needed a lot more to situate shifters into the contemporary world.

Lastly, there is the romance. *shakes head* It’s pretty much a case of insta-lust. I could live with that. We’re dealing with shifters and finding and pairing with ‘mates’ is a fairly common trope in the genre. But honestly, within less than a month he’s offering to give up his career to make her happy and asking her to marry him. Really? Is that believable?

Plus, the book is contradictory, as an example (thought I suppose the not hidden secret shifters is already an example) Ivy goes on and on about how freeing it is to finally find and be with a man who knows what she is so she can let it loose in bed. But she has a shifter-friend who’s been fairly aggressive in pursuing her romantically. So, even if she chooses not to accept his affections it’s obvious that she hasn’t been without opportunities to let her shifter free in the sexual sense. How can the book simultaneously say some opportunity doesn’t exist and use the same as a side challenge for one of the characters? Am I supposed to not notice?

So, final thoughts? Mechanically, structurally and editorially this book is fine. Ms. Tyler can write…it’s just too darned bad I hated what she wrote so much. I’d be willing to selectively give her work another shot to see if it’s just this book that rubbed me wrong. Certainly, her prose are perfectly readable. But if I had a physical copy of this book I would be tempted to burn it. As it is, I’ll have to satisfy myself with the delete button.

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