In Sophie Gonzales' Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off. Darcy Phillips: • Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee. • Uses her power for good. Most of the time. • Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham. • Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else. • Does not appreciate being blackmailed. However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back. Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she's not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again. Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?
Perfect on PaperFeatured
Brougham wants Darcy to help him get his ex-girlfriend back with personal counseling sessions. Out of fear for others finding out the secret that she is behind Locker 89, Darcy begins to help him. At the same time, she sees advice relating to her BFF and secret mega-crush, Brooke, that makes her act out of jealousy rather than the usual whole-hearted advice her secret agony aunt program gives. As time goes on and she spends more time with Brougham, she realizes that there is more to him than she would have expected, and maybe getting him back with his ex is not as high on her priorities. What could go wrong?
What I loved: This plot had me completely hooked to see how everything came together. I also really adore unexpected romance with some enemies-to-romantic flair, and this book delivered in a big way. The characters are unbelievably well-written and highly compelling. Aside from Darcy, who grows a lot as a character in the book, and Brougham, who is totally swoon-worthy, Ainsley is a character whose book I would happily devour. She's funny, clever, and makes her own clothes- plus gives her sister Darcy great advice. She was definitely one of my favorites in the book, and she had me literally laughing out loud with her antics at the end big friendship-related gesture. Ainsley was *chef's kiss.* I also had much love for Finn, who has his own conspiracy theories about High School Musical, and even Darcy's mother, who is doing her best and also evolving during the story.
Another great part of the book is all the representation of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the discussions around how different identities can be perceived (particularly bi, as per the main character) and related challenges. This was a really strong part of the story, and I also appreciated the importance of having safe spaces (like the Q + Q Club) demonstrated in a positive way.
I also really loved the inclusion of the letters and the advice Darcy gives sprinkled throughout the book. These sorts of additions just made the book even more fun. The writing style and pacing are really perfect in this book, and I never felt like there was a dull moment.
I would add some warnings for drug and alcohol use/abuse, parental neglect and abuse, and internalized biphobia.
Final verdict: With fantastic representation, strong love interests, and a bunch of personal growth, PERFECT ON PAPER was a compelling and charming read. Highly recommend for fans of ASK ME ANYTHING and FOLLOW YOUR ARROW.