Genre: science fiction
Length: novella-- ebook
Published: February 2011 by David N Alderman
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Jonathan Huxley, a homeless boy living on the streets of Mecca, meets a wealthy gentleman who offers to take him in as an adopted son - if he'll wed the daughter of a family friend. But all is not as it seems in the world of wealth and power, as Jonathan is soon forced to make a decision between a secure future or forbidden love. While he fights to keep hold of what little is left of his innocence, the events surrounding him are shaping him into the notorious mercenary he will soon become.
Picture Perfect is a sort of prologue in the form of a novella to David Alderman's upcoming Expired Reality series. The novella is set in Anaisha, a world most similar to ours in many respects, and apparently very different in several others. I've never read any of the author's earlier books set in this world, but Picture Perfect has me most intrigued.
Jonathan is an orphan whose biggest concerns usually reside in scavenging enough food to survive on, but one night a bizarre encounter with Reginald Arthur, a mysterious and wealthy stranger, alters the course of his life forever. Reginald gives Jonathan an unusual opportunity: he can become an honorary member of the enigmatic Arthur family and spend the rest of his life in wealth and luxury, if only he agrees to marry Christina Harbrook, an equally wealthy-- and vindictive-- family friend. Jonathan agrees to the arranged marriage, never foreseeing that he will soon meet-- and be forced to fight for-- the true love of his life.
Jonathan's transformation from a homeless orphan to a young mercenary is well-transitioned, especially considering the short length of the novella. As a (long-winded to a fault) aspiring writer myself, I bow to David Alderman's ability to tell such a complex story so artfully and over the course of so few pages! It is easy to get a feel for all of the characters, even the more minor ones, and the mystery shrouding the mysterious crimelord 'The Shadow' made me wish there was more. Jonathan's would-be bride Christina is quite the femme fatale, and I'd love to see more of her as well. There's a huge twist near the end of the story (no, I'm not going to reveal anything!) that totally threw me off as well. The novella leaves the reader wondering how Jonathan will appear in his guise as a 'notorious mercenary' in the upcoming Expired Reality series (which takes place long after Picture Perfect, as far as I can tell). All in all, I give this one a firm four and a half stars, for near-perfect execution and an intriguing story.
Cover: 3/5 (meh, it's alright)
Plot: 4/5Overall Rating: 4.5/5
*Copy was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review, and this in no way affected the contents of my review*