Day 7: Paradise & Perfect – Judith McNaught
Hahaha lookie lookie – I CHEATED! Frankly, I’m surprised I lasted all week without doing so, but see this was just absolutely positively necessary, because you cannot go through life without either of these.
I discovered both of these gems while I was helping my friend clean out before her pending nuptials (nothing like the promise of lifetime commitment to make a girl forget about fictitious romances), and if I were her, I’d probably regret letting go of them immediately. Some of you might remember that random hiatus I took from life in general while I read these two books, and now you’ll see why.
I know Judith McNaught is probably more popular for her historical romances, particularly her critically-acclaimed debut Whitney, My Love (which, ironically, I didn’t like at all – the sequels and follow-ups are awesome, though), but there’s something to be said for the way she spins a tale, the way she weaves her characters, and most of all, the way she makes a happy ending something wonderful and unexpected.
First up, let’s talk about Paradise. Meredith Bancroft is a poor little rich girl, brought up in monkish seclusion and alarming naivete by her jaded father. Matt Farrell is the ultimate man, with high hopes and ambitions and a ferocious determination to get what he knows he can get. They forge a connection as outsiders in haute society, on a night that changes both of their lives. Circumstances drive them apart, but this series isn’t called Second Opportunities for nothing. It’s a saga, in the truest sense of the word, that spans more than a decade, and brings together two people who know each other better than they know themselves.
The second Second (fourth?) Opportunities book is Perfect, which is quite an apt title. I didn’t think anything Judith McNaught wrote could surpass Paradise, but I stood corrected. This is the story of Zack Benedict, successful yet self-made movie star and best friend to Matt Farrell (see what she did thar?), a man wrongfully convicted for a heinous crime. It’s also about Julie Mathison, a small town teacher and adopted daughter of a preacher who got a second lease at life in her preteen years. Zack manages to escape from prison, and unintentionally tangles Julie in his high-speed, crazy-ass escape plan. It’s as unbelievable as a love story can be, and that, my friends, is exactly what makes this so perfect.
Four characters that I cannot get out of my head. Four characters I rooted for and cheered for, and look for references about in every single one of McNaught’s novels (there’s a few!). Four characters that I guarantee you will also fall in love with – so pick up one of these at your local book sales or library. They’re a little intense, and insanely long though, so plan to read nothing else for a couple of days.