"Engagingly and intelligently written, this absorbing novel should work as catnip to fashion-obsessed readers."Kirkus Reviews
Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lense. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past just as she's falling for hot male model Alex.
Eve had it allemphasis on had. She was a rising star with a modeling contract destined to catapult her to celebrity...until the devastating night when she walked away from everything, everyone in her life. Eve's worked hard to put her troubled past behind her, and photography's given her a fresh start. She just never thought her dream internship would force her back into the industry that broke her trust and her heart.
Alex is a regular, good guy from Nebraska, but as an up-and-coming model, he's learning that appearances are everything. The fake relationship Alex's agent concocted for Alex and his underage costar? That'll land them both the hot jobs. But Alex hadn't counted on falling for Eve, the girl behind the camera.
With careers and love on the line, Eve and Alex are about to prove you may want what you can't havebut sometimes it's worth the risk.
About the Author
Mark Perini began his career as an international fashion model, while earning a business degree from Seton Hall University. Mark lives in New York City. He can be found at markperini.com.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Eve
October 2, 6:45 a.m.
I cut everything in half.
And by everything, I mean everything-buildings, vehicles, trees...people.
Through the lens of my camera, I attempt to slice a billboard in half, allowing only Conan's right half into my shot. I shift the camera down lower and zoom in on a man seated at a table across the busy street. He's got a coffee cup in one hand and uses the other to press his cell phone to his ear. On one side he's Wall Street and the other half-the side with his fingers gently wrapped around the paper cup and his eyes staring straight ahead-he's an artist deep in thought. Maybe an author or a musician. Or a journalist who's feeling the emotional impact of a recent devastating story.
I lower my camera and tuck it into my bag as a woman approaches. She's exactly as I pictured her-fortysomething, brown hair in a messy ponytail, khakis cut off at the knee, tan lines in all the wrong places from hours of shooting outdoors, a giant bag of equipment slung gracefully over her shoulder.
I stand up and stick my hand out to shake hers. "I'm such an admirer of your work. I love the-"
"Eve Nowakowski, right? Professor Larson's student?"
I have Professor Larson for three classes this semester as part of the photography program at Columbia.
Janessa Fields cuts me off again, waving a hand as if to say she doesn't have time or patience for my fangirl moment. And just like that, we're walking at a brisk New Yorker's pace and I'm stumbling to follow, despite the fact that she's the one lugging fifty pounds of equipment.
"Do you need some help with your bag?" I ask.
"I've got it, thanks." It's clear this is not one of those times where you should insist on helping anyway. "Professor Larson is the only person in the world who can talk me into allowing an eighteen-year-old student from Boston-"
"Actually, I'm from Indiana."
She glares at me, and I bite down on my tongue. "Professor Larson was my mentor years ago, so just try to stay out of the way today, understood?"
"Professor Larson didn't mention what you're working on today."
"That's because I didn't tell him."
She opens the door to a building and my pulse speeds up. I know this building. I've been here before. "Isn't this Seventeen?"
"Exactly why I didn't mention the client to Professor Larson." Janessa Fields rolls her eyes. "I was afraid if you knew the client, you might have come with a clan of screaming friends."
No, but I might not have shown up had I known.
"I'm just picking up some equipment for the shoot today. This isn't my usual cup of tea, but we all have to do some editorials now and again."
Not her usual cup of tea? That's like the biggest understatement of the year. I mean, seriously? Capturing third-world poverty on film versus taking photos for editorials on prom makeup or how to get your crush to notice you-the difference is greater than the distance between New York City and Africa.
Walking through this building and toward the elevator, I'm already feeling sick to my stomach, fighting the urge to turn around and run. I'm supposed to be studying photography with a woman who can make tragedy look beautiful in a photo, not someone photographing teen models for an article about how to tell if your boyfriend's cheating on you.
Janessa yells at me to keep up, then she leaves me in the magazine's lobby while she gets her equipment from an intern. I stand at the end of a long, carpeted hallway. The walls are lined with framed covers from dozens of issues.
I stroll slowly past each one, looking at the gorgeous, perfect models, knowing more than I'd like to about what goes into those shots. I pause on an issue from four years ago. The cover features a brown-haired girl from Indiana-International Model and Only Fifteen Years Old: Eve Castle Tells All in an Exclusive Interview with Seventeen. She's thin in a Kate Moss way, with gangly limbs and a flat chest. She was nearly six feet tall when she was in middle school, and boys used to stare at that flat chest because her training bra was at eye level for them.
My hair hasn't changed much in four years and neither has my height. But she's different. Her eyes are different, and she looks happier than I feel now. I almost want to reach into the picture and shake her, tell her what's going to happen to her. Maybe I can make it so she stays happy.
"Wasn't he just adorable in that issue?" someone says behind me. "Hard to find that blond, youthful, all-American look. That's probably why we've had him on the cover three times."
He? Fifteen-year-old me may have been flat-chested, but I didn't look like a boy.
My gaze drifts to the right. To the guy on the cover of a different issue. His arms are wrapped around the waist of a perky cheerleader-type model with shiny black hair. The headline at the top reads: How to Win Over Your Crush This Valentine's Day.
I hear the swish of Janessa's equipment bag against her water-resistant khakis. "Absolutely adorable," she says. "Middle school boys make excellent sex symbols."
My heart pounds as Janessa's gaze slides left, to the cover beside the "middle school boy's" photo. I glance over my shoulder at the perky twentysomething intern. She looks a little red in the face but doesn't respond to Janessa's crude remark. Janessa nods toward the photo of the guy and the girl together. "Actually, I think this kid's in our shoot today. Lucky you. You might get to meet every girl's Valentine's Day crush."
Yeah. Can't wait for that.
Does Janessa recognize me? Does she care? Is anyone else at the job going to recognize me? Surely I'm old news by now. What if I'm wrong and I get thrown into a situation where I have to explain why I left modeling? Might be best to take off now, just in case.
But you don't get into a school like Columbia without putting grades above emotional stability-at least some of the time. And I can't imagine running away and disappointing Professor Larson after he used his connections to set this up for me.
Janessa turns around and launches herself down the hall. I let out a big sigh before following her.
When we get to the studio, Janessa introduces me to the producer, who introduces us to several wardrobe and makeup people. No one gives me a first glance, let alone a second glance. For a moment, I relax. I'm in the clear.
Then I see him. Red hair gelled and spiked to perfection, slim dress pants perfectly pressed, and a button-down shirt half-untucked in that trendy way. He's barking into his cell phone, flashing a tight smile at the producer.
The air is sucked out of my lungs, my legs instantly weak.
My first thought hits: What's he doing here?
Followed by the second: I need to stay far away from Wes Danes.
Unfortunately, I've been staring at him like an idiot for a good thirty seconds instead of finding something to hide behind.
Wes gives me a double take. But he plays it cool. He doesn't show any sign of surprise beyond a quick widening of his eyes. He slowly makes his way over, walking past me with a slight nod toward the elevator.
Don't do it, don't follow him.
But I can't stop my feet. He nods and they move. Traitors.
I hold my breath and follow the trail of his designer cologne through the elevator doors. As they close, the walls press in on me from all sides.
"How are you, Evie?" he asks in a quiet voice so different from the commanding assertive voice he'd used on the phone moments ago.
"I...I'm..." The doors open, letting us out on the first floor. I trail Wes down a hall and into a secluded corridor.
He spins around to face me. "What are you doing here?"
"It's just...I have this..." I can't look him in the eye. "It's a long story."
He steps closer-too close-and scrubs his hands over his face. This is Vulnerable Wes. The guy I fell in love with. It'd be much easier to have this chat with arrogant, It's-Not-Personal-It's-Business Wes. "Who are you working with? What agent? And what have they booked for you? Why didn't you call me, Evie? After everything-"
"I'm not working," I say, finally able to look him in the eye. "I'm here for a photography class. My professor-"
His eyebrows lift. "You're in college? In New York?"
"Yeah," I nod. "At Columbia."
The surprise is evident on his face, and I feel the tiniest twinge of satisfaction. A lot can happen in two years, Wes.
Suddenly, a memory from two years ago returns. Him yelling at me, his warm breath in my face. The crash of the chair against the china cabinet, glass shattering all over his apartment floor. I remember the panic I fought that day. It was like my brain and body were completely torn in two-half of me ready to bolt out the door, the other half clinging to our yearlong relationship. That night I had walked through his door ready to tell him I wanted out, ready to tell his boss that I needed a new agent, but the second Wes held me and said he was sorry, I caved. It took me two more weeks to leave, and I haven't seen or spoken to Wes since.
Why does a tiny part of me still feel drawn to him? I hate him. I know I hate him. But he made me love him. Apparently two years isn't long enough to make that fade. It should be, but it isn't.
"Yo, Wes!" someone shouts from down the corridor.
Wes springs into action. "We'll talk later," he whispers.
No, we won't. Not if I can help it.
He's already walking away before I can respond. He won't know where to find me, right? Why didn't I lie and say I went to NYU? But I guess Wes knows me better than that. I've had my heart set on going to Columbia since I started modeling in New York City when I was fourteen.
I recognize the guy Wes is talking to. He's the model that Janessa called a middle schooler. Except he looks older now. That cover photo was from a few years ago. On my walk to the elevator, I feel his eyes burning a hole in the side of my face. I just look straight ahead, wishing away the heat flaring on my cheeks.
Does he recognize me? He might. Or maybe he's checking me out. I guess that's possible. Statistics are in favor of him just being a guy and staring at me for guy reasons and not personal ones.
Since I've returned to New York for school, I've been looking for a nice guy to date because that seemed so...I don't know...normal. But this guy would not fit into that mold. Not even close. But I'm still in favor of being ogled rather than being recognized as Eve Castle.
I avoid eye contact and slide into the elevator the second the doors open, but not before I hear Wes giving muffled instructions. Something about impressing Elana or "making nice with her."
I don't even want to know what the hell that means.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
**Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review!** Ever since I was young, I've been completely interested and fascinated by the fashion industry, which was the original reason why I found this book to be so appealing. I'm so glad that I decided to give this one a read because it was quite amazing! Halfway Perfect is about Eve and Alex. Eve used to be a model when she was younger but ran away from the industry and got into Columbia, where she now studies photography. Alex, on the other hand, is still currently a model who happens to work for the same very man that Eve used to work for. The two of them meet and as they get to know each other they begin to fall in love, though not without the usual ups and downs that all relationships must go through. This book is told in dual perspectives, which I'm a huge fan of. It was great to see inside the head of Eve and Alex who both have differing views on the modeling world. I also loved how much the two of them cared for one another-it was very sweet. Halfway Perfect also touched upon the fact that not everything you see in media is real because facts can be changed to please the audience all the time, even though it's extremely twisted. I appreciate that the authors didn't shy away from that topic. I also appreciated how this book wasn't just a romance because there were many more underlying topics. I'd mention them, but I don't want to spoil! On that note, give this book a read. You'll fly through it in no time and you'll fall in love with both Alex and Eve.
Loved this book!!! If I could use one word to describe it, I would say, 'riveting'!!! This is a book that you will never put down. It is full of action and suspense. It is very well written and keeps your attention to the point that you become bleary eyed because your can't stop reading it once you start. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an entertaining and clever read.
Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross and Mark Perini is a young adult romance story. Eve Knowakowski is eighteen years old and a photography student at Columbia University. She has to write an artist profile paper for Dr. Larson’s class and he has helped her get an interview with Janessa Fields, a well-known photographer. Eve is going on a photo shoot with Janessa. When they arrive at the location, Eve is upset to discover they are at the offices of Seventeen Magazine. Eve is hoping no one will recognize her, but luck is not with Eve. She runs into her former agent, Wes Danes. Eve used to be known as Eve Castle when she was modeling. Eve quit modeling the day before shooting a big Gucci campaign. Wes is the last person Eve wants to see. Alex Evans is eighteen and a model. Wes Danes is his agent. Alex is on the set and recognizes Eve. Alex does not reveal her identity to anyone else in the room. Alex and Eve start talking and they enjoy each other’s company. They would like to get to know each other better, but there is a small glitch. Alex’s agent has arranged for a fake romance with new model Elana. Elana is a fourteen year old French model, but they tell everyone she is eighteen. Alex and Elana are to be the golden couple to try and get a Calvin Klein campaign. This means Alex and Eve have to be very discreet. Unfortunately, the paparazzi are everywhere. One day Eve and Alex are seen going into his building. Wes tells Alex to break things off with Eve (Wes has his own motives) and makes the reporters think Eve and Wes are an item. Unfortunately, this causes more harm than good especially for Eve. You will need to read Halfway Perfect to find out what happens with Alex and Eve and why Eve left modeling so abruptly. I give Halfway Perfect 3 out of 5 stars. It is an interesting story, but it is very predictable. I normally love Julie Cross’ books, but this one was just okay. I love books that make you think, draw you in and keep you engaged, and you keep thinking about it after you have finished the book. Halfway Perfect was not one of those books. It actually left me a little sad when I finished it. I received a complimentary copy of Halfway Perfect from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are strictly my own.
Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross & Mark Perini is considered a YA novel. I have read just about everything by Julie Cross, as I enjoy her writing. I wasn’t sure I would like this YA storyline that Julie wrote with Mark Perini, but I am happy to say it was different, but very good. The background of this storyline that more or less is detailed in the above blurb, which revolves around modeling and the fashion industry. Eve Nowakowski is our heroine, who is a student in an Ivy League school. She lands an internship with a famed photographer, which Eve hopes will land her a scholarship. While Eve is helping with the setup of a photo shoot, she also makes an impression with her own pictures. But while working, she sees someone from her past that brings back bad memories. It seems that Eve is former teenage super model, Eve Castle, who walked away from a modeling career that would have put her at the top. No one knew why the real Eve Castle disappeared, except the false rumors that followed. Eve, who is now 18, has no interest in returning to her career, and tries to keep her distance from her former agent & ex, who was a major reason for her running away. Alex is the young model, who is the male lead of the photo shoot. Alex is also 18, and he has to pretend that the 14 year old girl in the shoot is his girlfriend. What follows, without giving any spoilers, is a story of the dark side of the pressure filled fashion industry, as well as abuse. Eve and Alex become very good friends, both finding themselves attracted to each other. It is Alex who will discover the truth about why Eve Castle walked away. He will have to decide whether he can afford to become romantically involved with Eve, if it will hurt his career. Eve becomes entangled into worrying about the young 14 year old girl, who seems to be walking into her steps from years before. Eve maybe out of her league, as she has financial troubles, and her association with both Alex, Wes, her former agent and Elana, the young girl, which could create problems that will put her deeper in debt, and possibly lose her scholarship. Halfway Perfect is a very well written story by Julie Cross & Mark Perini. We get a nice peek into the fashion industry, modeling, the pressures, the weight issues and overall stress. There is a romance between Alex and Eve, but not too much. I thought the first 1/3 of the book was a bit slow, especially where Alex goes home to his family. But the groundwork needed to be laid out. The last 2/3 was very good. It is the story told in two Pov’s that makes you want to keep reading to see how it will all turn out.
Eve Nowakowski left the modeling world behind many years ago. Now, as she pursues a career behind the camera, she is thrown back into the world she avoided for so long. But she doesn’t have a choice if she wants to impress a world-class photographer and if she happens to see people she’d rather not, so be it. Enter model Alex Evans, who is gaining recognition and climbing the ranks. For that to continue, he must maintain a fake relationship with his co-star Elena. A co-star who just happens to be underage. All the while Alex finds himself more and more attracted to Eve. As things slowly heat between the two of them, Eve’s past comes a-knockin’ and Alex’s future career is riding on the line. Will they fight to stay together or will they let outside forces tear them apart? From moment one, all I wanted was to see Eve succeed. On the outside, it seems she has been dealt a pretty awesome hand. She was a successful model in her teens and she’s smart and (obviously) pretty. But that modelling success costs her so much more than most people realize. The fact that she made so much money means it’s impossible for her to receive financial aide for school, despite the fact that her parents spent all her money and she’s now completely broke. Plus, there was a very real reason she left that life behind and a hatred for the art of modeling is not it. This girl is so smart and funny and determined to make a life for herself that I envy her drive. If I went through everything she had and then still had to fight like hell to get the high level college education she was going for, I can’t say I would have even made the effort. Then we have Alex. Hot, cocky, and extremely photogenic, I wasn’t sure I’d like him initially. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I was more than a little nervous to read from his perspective. It didn’t take him long to win me over, though, especially with his high moral standards. He’s desire to protect Elena had me awww with he rest of the female population. It’s clear that he is a flawed character. He loves this job, even though he can’t get his family to understand. I love his family, by the way. You get to meet them about halfway through and I adore every single member. The parents, the brothers, the sister, the whole set. We should all be so lucky. What really won me over, beside the determination to make things as comfortable as possible for Elena, is how he pursues Eve. He’s thoughtful and sweet and doesn’t simply rely on his gorgeous face to win her over. When I first heard about this novel, I immediately wanted to read it. First because I adored Julie’s NA novel Third Degree and I knew this would be just as good. Second because it was about modeling and it was co-written by a male model. Even though writing is often seen as a male profession, we don’t have nearly as many male YA writers as we do female and I’m always excited to see through their eyes. Despite the fact that I’m happily married to a very sweet man and have read dozen’s of male perspectives and seen dozen’s of movies portrayed through men’s eyes, I’m still fascinated by seeing through that perspective. This is probably going to sound extremely naive of me, so I apologize in advance, but I always wonder it men think the same way women do. It’s a stupid notion, but really, from the point we girls hit teenage years, we are told to believe that guys only think about sex and that’s all that matters. Despite aging much beyond those years, some of those lectures still stick in my mind. So, some forever teenager stuck in my brain is always screaming with glee when I come across a well written story about a teenage boy that is thoughtful and sweet. Is it a bit stupid? Absolutely, but my brain does it anyway and I cannot be the only one out there who feels this way. I read this novel very quickly. I was sitting at home on a Friday, thinking about the books I was supposed to be reading and thinking that I wanted to read something else that just grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. I consulted my For Review list (yes, I have an actual spreadsheet list with all the books I have requested/received for review) and Halfway Perfect jumped to the top of the list. I started reading it that night and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Then I got up the following morning and finished it. It was addicting. I had to know what happened next. Did Eve get that scholarship thing? Did Alex finally realize what a jerk his agent was? Will Eve and Alex find a way to make it work? I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m stuck on things with a contemporary romance side. I can’t help it. I devour them quickly and this was no exception to that. From the first moment I picked it up, I was enraptured. This novels takes turns that I wasn’t expecting and pushes the story in a direction that I didn’t see coming. There is one specific turning point where the novel went in the exact opposite direction I thought that it would, so I have to applaud Cross & Perini for not following the expected path in the best way possible. Things turned out better that way. All you really need to know is that this novel is better than halfway perfect. It’s completely prefect and I recommend it to everyone! ****Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****
I want to thank Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review. I will say that I am a huge fan of Julie Cross and will read anything she chooses to write. And I love that she can write in multiple genres and sub-genres! So when she teamed up with Mark Perini to write this book, I knew I wanted to read it! I have no clue about the modeling world. I only know what I've seen on TV and read in magazines. So I was excited to see what this book brought to light for me. Eve was a model, but she gave it up for reasons she buries deep, not to mention wanting to go to school. So when she's thrust back into this world, she finds herself floundering a bit. And it doesn't take long for people to realize who they have in their midst. Eve tries hard not to let the rumors of why she left modeling surround her, but they are so hard to fight when she's been pushed back into the limelight. Then she forms a bond with one of the male models on the shoot, Alex. I loved watching how their relationship grew. No instal-love, no annoying whininess from Eve. Just a pure friendship that gets to blossom into more. But of course there's a wrench in their romance. One they must work through. One that causes some rough spots for them. And what they go through is dark and gritty and really brings to light things that happen in the modeling world that one doesn't see just by looking at the pages of a magazine. If you're looking for a quick contemporary read that builds a sweet romance and also opens your eyes to things you might not know much about, then you'll love this one from Mark and Julie.
Eve used to be a great model. However, she made headlines when she up and left a huge gig with Gucci, never to be seen or heard from again. The rumors swirled that she went to rehab but what really happened was something much deeper. She was being taken advantage of by her parents and abused by her boyfriend/agent. Now, Eve is trying to live life out of the spotlight. She’s behind the camera instead of in front of it. However, when her job takes her to the one place where it all went downhill, her new life starts clashing with her old life. Pretty soon the cat’s out of the bag and Eve is trying to stay afloat. This was an interesting story. I wasn’t expecting it to be weighed down by such dark things like abuse and statutory rape. I thought this would just be a fluff piece about young models behind the scenes feeling pressured to lose a few more pounds. I think those darker parts are what really made the story unique. It really brought out the darker side of modeling while still giving you that fluffy romance to balance it out. Eve and Alex were an interesting couple. They definitely have a slow building romance. They start off as friends and then slowly move to relationship status throughout the course of the book. It doesn’t help that Alex is currently fake “dating” his co-star model, Elaina, who everyone thinks is 18 but is really 14. After-all, you can’t sell a very-much-in-love couple to a high-end campaign if the couple is really a child and an adult. I love that things didn’t get messy there. Elaina and Alex are up front in the fact that it’s all for show. Alex views her as a little sister and does everything he can to protect her from the bad things in the world. The author’s could have made the whole thing messy. Like Eve getting jealous, or Elaina developing feeling for Alex, but they didn’t. They didn’t add crazy drama into the mix. The story already had enough of it. This was an entertaining story. I wasn’t sure what I was going into when I started reading but it has a good mixture or drama and romance to keep the reader flipping the page. However, I never fully got into the story or cared for the characters. I just felt a little disconnected from it all.
This solidly young adult novel drops into my ‘teen read’ options for the older teen readers, most especially for its honest portrayal of the drawbacks and disadvantages to what seems to be a ‘dream career’ for many: fashion modeling. Eve and Alex both are stand-out characters in their own right. Eve was a model with some pretty horrible experiences, but she’s survived it all, and now wants to make a name for herself as a photographer. Intelligent, determined and independent, she is an ‘eyes on the prize’ sort of person, not allowing the many difficulties or distractions prevent her from reaching her dream. The inclusion of Alex was interesting for two reasons: first as a character he has a solid voice and a plan for his life, not to mention his obvious (and displayed) love for his often crazy family. Secondly, he’s solidly a “good guy” with a genuine regard for Eve, even before the romance started to develop. The perspective of a male model was an interesting one, giving readers a look at the industry in a fresher way, and seeing the similarities and differences for both Eve and Alex as they navigate the minefield. I loved that the romance was developed and not instant: while the attraction was obvious, the banter and gentle transition through collegial interactions to some steamy romance was paced with care, and never felt pushed or rushed. And the support that they provided for one another when the wholly greasy and despicable antagonist started to worm into events gives readers a chance to cheer and jeer with equal measure. A surprising read that wasn’t what I expected yet it hit every element, A touch of darkness and grit add a plausible tone that brings the real world difficulties and struggles that are behind the pretty advertisements, and gives readers an opportunity to learn as both Eve and Alex meet and confront those challenges head on. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
WOW just WOW! I was blown away with this book. It was not something I would normally read but when asked I thought okay let’s see what it’s about. I had to throw out all my preconceived suppositions about this book within the first chapter. It was enjoyable, thought provoking and real. The storyline is solid as in weaves this unique story about young adults that work in the modeling field. I liked the back-stories between Wes and Eve. It added an element of darkness to the story that fit in with stories we hear about the industry. The authors did a brilliant job in Eve and Alex’s character development throughout the story keeping their stories forward movement exciting and new. Everyone loves a HEA and this book won’t disappoint you. I give it 5 STARS. AN ARC COPY WAS GIFTED IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST OPINION VIA NETGALLEY. To see the full review visit my blog: sportochicksmusings.blogspot .com