The Perfect Date
by Evelyn Lozada
with Holly Lorincz
Angel Gomez is doing her best to make things work.
Most of the time, she feels like a complete failure. Between making rent, keeping her growing son in shoes that fit, scraping together enough coins to be able to buy meager groceries – it’s hard to make ends meet. It doesn’t matter that she works two jobs and is constantly hustling. Angel can barely afford the seedy apartment they live in, and with the added expense of Jose’s asthma medicine on top of it, she’s constantly on edge.
And it isn’t just the money that keeps Angel down. On top of the two jobs and being a single mother, she’s working her way through the tail-end of her nursing degree. The light at the end of the tunnel is bright and enticing, but it keeps her attention away from Jose and as a result – she’s missing things. Bedtime stories are going unread, baseball games are going unwatched, and field trips are going unchaperoned. Angel keeps telling herself that it’s bound to get better, and that its only a matter of when.
Angel is stressed, to say the least. Jose is constantly on her mind, even when she’s working her job at the clinic and the patients should have her undivided attention – she’s still thinking of her boy. The distraction of bills and motherhood can be dangerous, especially seeing as how sharp she needs to be on her game when she’s around her boss. Dr. Collins is constantly making inappropriate passes and holding her final grade over her head, but Angel tries to keep her head down and her temper in check as much as possible. It’s all a means to an end, and when she can finally call herself a nurse, then Angel will finally be able to call the shots for the first time in her young life.
She can’t wait.
Caleb Lewis goes by “The Duke” to his friends and most importantly, to his fans. He’s a baseball star in the finest degree : good looking, talented, and charming and with plenty of money in the bank. He’s never had a hard time pulling the ladies or striking the other team out. But ever since that fateful evening in the club when his friend and teammate Mark was shot, Duke has been on a downward spiral. His ankle was injured that night and hasn’t been the same since. He’s been hiding his condition and pain from his team, his agent, and the powers-that-be up in the clubhouse … but he doesn’t know how much longer he can keep the act up.
Duke visits an obscure clinic downtown, one where he can pay the doctor cash under the table to get the fix he needs … no matter how temporary that fix may be. The trouble is, no one can know he goes there … so when he steps out one day and sees press lined up on the sidewalk, Duke has to think fast. He asks the sassy, sexy, young nurse who works there if she’ll agree to be his girlfriend for the cameras. He thinks it’s the best excuse for his being there – that he can’t stay away from this delicious Puerto Rican hottie. Duke is sure the plan is completely believable, given his reputation around town as a lady’s man.
Against her better judgement, Angel agrees. She’s completely caught up in the moment, and in how handsome Duke is up close and personal. And no matter that over the next few weeks, Duke leads her into a life full of glitz, glamour, and bitchy ex-girlfriends, Angel continues to see the good that is hidden deep down beneath his bravado and selfish behavior. It’s all an act, and Angel is determined to help Duke accept the good in himself and stop using things like alcohol and lies as a crutch.
But when Duke continues to drag Angel into scandal after scandal and it all begins to interrupt and threaten her quiet life with Jose, she begins to have second thoughts. She’s caught feelings for the famous ball player, but her first priority is always her son – it has to be. Jose has no one else. Duke must learn to stand on his own two feet … no matter how painful it may be.
The Perfect Date is the newest novel by reality television sensation Evelyn Lozada. While this novel is a work of fiction, it is full of behind-the-scenes antics and dialogue that all too often resembles an episode of Basketball Wives, the show Lozada is famous for being on.
Before I read any novel, I always go peruse the reviews first. It’s just a habit of mine, and I’ve always found it interesting just how polarizing some books can be. The general consensus online for The Perfect Date is that its storyline is choppy, that it’s too dramatic, and that the characters are moody and unlikable. It’s not rating very well. And yet …
… I just didn’t see what the other readers saw, I guess.
I always take the first few novels by any author (especially in this romantic/dramatic/rom-com genre) with a grain of salt. These quick books are deceptively hard to write. It’s difficult to have a whole lot of depth with characters in a mere 300 pages, and it’s even harder to have a heavy storyline. I felt that Lozada did a decent job in both aspects. Let me tell you why.
Most other reviewers of this novel complain that Angel has a bad temper and is constantly flying off the handle. I don’t know what book they were reading, but that was not my impression at all. My best friend of 25 years is Latina and culturally speaking, Latin women are sassy and can sting you with words while buttering you up in the next breath. It’s just their nature to be a bit of a roller coaster. In that aspect, I found Angel’s behavior rang true.
Secondly, she is a single mother. I’ve been there and I know what it takes to deal with the stresses of making things work and making ends meet. You constantly feel as if you’re up against the wall. It’s a state of constantly being on edge, and you can feel as if you have no allies. One little thing can make you blow, even if to someone else it may seem insignificant. Again, I found Angel’s behavior appropriate and truthful. I really liked her a lot, and I could see where she was coming from. She had to make hard choices and put herself in unsavory positions to take care of her son, and sometimes as mothers we have to go there. Perhaps the negative reviewers have never had to deal with the prospect of not eating so that your child can eat. I have personally had that experience, and so I *got* Angel.
Some also looked down on how quickly she hopped in to bed with Duke. Again, maybe because I’ve personally been there (*insert sheepish smile here*) I didn’t find it inappropriate. Angel was trying to snatch any slice of happy she could out of the situation with the handsome Duke, if even for a few hours. I’m not into shaming women for using their bodies for their own pleasure, and I feel like if Duke had been a more traditional hero, maybe women reviewers wouldn’t have minded Angel sleeping with him quite so much.
Speaking of Duke. Okay. I get it … you look at the cover and you think “aww, what a sweet romance this will be.” This is not that book. These characters have flaws and they are out there on display for the reader to see. Nothing is hidden from the readers. Duke is NOT your typical hero, and I think *that* is why so many reviewers were whining about him. Duke is selfish, he is self-absorbed, he is a narcissist, and he is a bit of a misogynist. Now that being said, he is trying to change himself. His inner voice is constantly chastising himself when he does something wrong, and Duke does recognize when he’s being a bit of a douchebag. I think that is what attracts him to Angel … that is she so rough around the edges and quick to call him on his stuff. He needs that mirror in his life.
Readers inherently want that cookie-cutter hero who has a few flaws but is always redeemed very quickly and efficiently. They want romances that are easy and flirty and fun. Again, this is not that book. But that doesn’t make it a bad book.
The storyline was a little choppy, but that is to be expected (for me at least) from authors who do not write full-time. Yes, it was dramatic. It was like reading a soap opera, if that makes sense. But … I mean look at the reality show that Lozada is on. Can readers really not put two and two together?
All in all, I gave his novel very close to 4 stars. The characters needed a little fleshing out, but they were honest and I found them likable because of that honesty. I don’t need perfect in every story I read, and I think it’s inauthentic to expect every romance to wrap up in a bow. I also enjoyed the characters on the periphery. I wish the ending had been just a little more, but all in all … this novel deserves more than the reviews its getting online.