Mr. Perfect

Mr. Perfect

by Linda Howard

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451664621
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 08/09/2011
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 23,325
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Linda S. Howington is a bestselling romance author writing under the pseudonym Linda Howard. She has written many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She is a charter member of Romance Writers of America and in 2005 Howard was awarded their Career Achievement Award. Linda lives in Gadsden, Alabama, with her husband, Gary F. Howington, and two golden retrievers. She has three grown stepchildren and three grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Warren, Michigan, 2000

Jaine Bright woke up in a bad mood.

Her neighbor, the blight of the neighborhood, had just roared home at three A.M. If his car had a muffler, it had long since ceased functioning. Unfortunately, her bedroom was on the same side of the house as his driveway; not even pulling the pillow over her head could block out the sound of that eight-cylinder Pontiac. He slammed the car door, turned on his kitchen porch light -- which by some evil design was positioned to shine directly into her eyes if she was lying facing the window, which she was -- let his screen door slam three times as he went in, came back out a few minutes later, then went back in, and evidently forgot about the porch light, because a few minutes later the light in the kitchen blinked out but that damn porch light stayed on.

If she had known about her neighbor before she bought this house, she never, never would have closed on the sale. In the two weeks she had lived here, he had single-handedly managed to destroy all the joy she'd felt on buying her first house.

He was a drunk. Why couldn't he be a happy drunk? she wondered sourly. No, he had to be a surly, nasty drunk, the kind who made her afraid to let the cat go outside when he was home. BooBoo wasn't much of a cat -- he wasn't even hers -- but her mom loved him, so Jaine didn't want anything to happen to him while she had temporary custody. She would never be able to face her mom again if her parents returned from their dream vacation, touring Europe for six weeks, to find BooBoo dead or missing.

Her neighbor already had it in for poor BooBoo anyway, because he'd found paw prints on the windshield and hood of his car. From the way he had reacted, you'd have thought he drove a new Rolls rather than a ten-year-old Pontiac with a bumper crop of dings down both sides.

Just her luck, she had been leaving for work at the same time he did; at least, she'd assumed at the time he'd been going to work. Now she thought he'd probably been going to buy more booze. If he worked at all, then he had really weird hours, because so far she hadn't been able to discern a pattern in his arrivals and departures.

Anyway, she had tried to be nice on the day he spotted the paw prints; she'd even smiled at him, which, considering how he had snapped at her because her housewarming party had woken him up -- at two in the afternoon! -- had been a real effort for her. But he hadn't paid any attention to the peace-offering smile, instead erupting out of his car almost as soon as his butt hit the seat. "How about keeping your damn cat off my car, lady!"

The smile froze on her face. Jaine hated wasting a smile, especially on an unshaven, bloodshot-eyed, foul-tempered jerk. Several blistering comments sprang to mind, but she bit them back. After all, she was new to the neighborhood, and she had already gotten off on the wrong foot with this guy. The last thing she wanted was a war between them. She decided to give diplomacy one more shot, though it obviously hadn't worked during the housewarming party.

"I'm sorry," she said, keeping her voice even. "I'll try to keep an eye on him. I'm baby-sitting him for my parents, so he won't be here much longer." Just five more weeks.

He had snarled some indistinct reply and slammed back into his car, then roared off, the powerful engine rumbling like thunder. Jaine cocked her head, listening. The Pontiac's body looked like hell, but that motor ran smooth as silk. There were a lot of horses under that hood.

Diplomacy evidently didn't work on this guy.

Now, here he was, waking up the entire neighborhood at three A.M. with that blasted car. The injustice of it, after he had snapped at her for waking him up in the middle of the afternoon, made her want to march over to his house and hold her finger against his doorbell until he was up and as wide awake as everyone else.

There was just one little problem. She was the teeniest bit afraid of him.

She didn't like it; Jaine wasn't accustomed to backing down from anyone, but this guy made her uneasy. She didn't even know his name, because the two times they'd met hadn't been the "hello, my name is so-and-so" type of encounters. All she knew was that he was a rough-looking character, and he didn't seem to hold down a regular job. At best, he was a drunk, and drunks could be mean and destructive. At worst, he was involved in illegal stuff, which added dangerous to the list.

He was a big, muscular guy, with dark hair cut so short he almost looked like a skinhead. Every time she had seen him, he looked as if he hadn't shaved in two or three days. Add that to the bloodshot eyes and bad temper, and she came up with drunk. The fact that he was big and muscular only added to her uneasiness. This had seemed like such a safe neighborhood, but she didn't feel safe with him as her next-door neighbor.

Grumbling to herself, she got out of bed and pulled down the window shade. She had learned over the years not to cover her windows, because an alarm clock might not wake her up, but sunlight always did. Dawn was better than any clanging noise at getting her out of bed. Since she had, several times, found her clock knocked onto the floor, she assumed it had roused her enough to attack it, but not enough to completely wake her.

Her system now was sheer curtains over a shade; the sheers kept anyone from seeing inside unless a light was on, and she raised the shade only after she'd turned out the light for the night. If she was late to work today, it would be her neighbor's fault, for forcing her to rely on the clock instead of the sun.

She stumbled over BooBoo on the way back to bed. The cat jumped up with a startled yowl, and Jaine damn near had a heart attack. "Jesus! BooBoo, you scared the hell out of me." She wasn't used to having a pet in the house, and she was always forgetting to watch where she stepped. Why on earth her mother had wanted her to baby-sit the cat, instead of Shelley or Dave, was beyond her. They both had kids who could play with BooBoo and keep him entertained. Since school was out for summer vacation, that meant someone was home at both their houses almost all day, every day.

But, nooo. Jaine had to keep BooBoo. Never mind that she was single, was at work five days a week, and wasn't used to having a pet. If she did have a pet, it wouldn't be one like BooBoo, anyway. He'd been in a feline pout ever since he'd been neutered, and he took out his frustration on the furniture. In just one week, he had frayed the sofa to the point that she would have to have it reupholstered.

And BooBoo didn't like her. He liked her well enough when he was in his home, coming around to be petted, but he didn't like being in her home at all. Every time she tried to pet him now, he arched his back and hissed at her.

To top it off, Shelley was mad at her because Mom had chosen Jaine to baby-sit her precious BooBoo. After all, Shelley was the oldest, and obviously more settled. It didn't make sense that Jaine had been chosen over her. Jaine agreed with her, but that didn't soothe the hurt feelings.

No, what really topped it off was that David, who was a year younger than Shelley, was mad at her too. Not because of BooBoo; David was allergic to cats. No, what had him steamed was that Dad had stored his precious car in her garage -- which meant shecouldn't park in her own garage, since it was a single, and it was damned inconvenient. She wished David had the blasted car. She wished Dad had left it in his own garage, but he'd been afraid to leave it unattended for six weeks. She understood that, but she didn't understand why she'd been chosen to baby-sit both cat and car. Shelley didn't understand the cat, David didn't understand the car, and Jaine didn't understand any of it.

So both her brother and sister were mad at her, BooBoo was systematically destroying her sofa, she was terrified something would happen to Dad's car while it was in her care, and her sot of a neighbor was making her life miserable.

God, why had she ever bought a house? If she had stayed in her apartment, none of this would be happening, because she hadn't had a garage and pets hadn't been allowed.

But she had fallen in love with the neighborhood, with its older, nineteen-forties-vintage houses and corresponding low prices. She had seen a good mix of people, from younger families with children to retired people whose families visited every Sunday. Some of the older folks actually sat on their porches during the cool of the evening, waving to passersby, and children played in their yards without worrying about drive-by shootings. She should have checked out all her neighbors, but at first blush this had seemed like a nice, safe area for a single woman to live, and she had been thrilled at finding a good, solid house at such a low price.

Because thinking about her neighbor was guaranteed to prevent her from going back to sleep, Jaine linked her hands behind her head and stared up at the dark ceiling as she thought about all the things she wanted to do with the house. The kitchen and bath both needed modernizing, which were big-ticket improvements and something she wasn't financially ready to tackle. But new paint and new shutters would go a long way toward improving the exterior, and she wanted to knock down the wall between the living and dining rooms, open it up so the dining room was more of an alcove than a separate room, with an arch that she could paint in one of those faux-stone paints so it looked like rock...

She woke to the annoying beep of the alarm clock. At least the damn thing had woken her up this time, she thought as she rolled over to silence the alarm. The red numbers shining at her in the dim room made her blink, and look again. "Ah, hell," she groaned in disgust as she leaped out of bed. Six-fifty-eight; the alarm had been going off for almost an hour, which meant she was late. Way late.

"Damn it, damn it, damn it," she muttered as she jumped into the shower and, a minute later, jumped out again. As she brushed her teeth, she dashed into the kitchen and opened a can of food for BooBoo, who was already sitting beside his bowl glaring at her.

She spat into the sink and turned on the water to wash the toothpaste down the drain. "Of all days, why couldn't you have jumped on the bed when you got hungry? No, today you decided to wait, and now Idon't have time to eat."

BooBoo indicated that he didn't care whether she ate or not, so long as he had food.

She dashed back into the bathroom, did a hurried makeup job, slipped earrings into her earlobes and her watch onto her wrist, then grabbed the outfit she always grabbed when she was in a hurry because she didn't have to fuss with it: black trousers and a white silk shell, with a snazzy red jacket topping it off. She jammed her feet into her shoes, grabbed her purse, and was out the door.

The first thing she saw was the little gray-haired lady who lived across the street, putting out her trash.

It was trash-collection day.

"Hell, damn, shit, piss, and all those other words," Jaine muttered under her breath as she wheeled and rushed back into the house. "I'm trying to cut back on my swearing," she snapped at BooBoo as she pulled the trash bag out of the can and tied off the tapes, "but you and Mr. Congeniality are making it tough."

BooBoo turned his back on her.

She dashed out of the house again, remembered she hadn't locked the door, and dashed back, then dragged her big metal garbage can down to the curb and deposited the morning's offerings inside it, on top of the other two bags already in it. For once, she didn't try to be quiet; she hoped she woke up the inconsiderate jerk in the house next door.

She ran back to her car, a cherry red Dodge Viper that she loved, and just for good measure, when she started the engine, she revved it up a few times before putting it in reverse. The car shot backward and with an almighty clang collided with her garbage can. There was another clang as the can rolled into her next-door neighbor's can and knocked it over, sending the lid rolling down the street.

Jaine closed her eyes and tapped her head on the steering wheel -- gently; she didn't want a concussion. Though maybe she should give herself a concussion; at least then she wouldn't have to worry about getting to work on time, which was now a physical impossibility. She didn't swear, though; the only words that came to mind were words she really didn't want to use.

She put the car in park and got out. What was needed now was control, not a temper tantrum. She righted her dented can and placed the spilled bags back inside it, then jammed the warped lid back on top. Next she returned her neighbor's can to its full and upright position, gathered the trash -- he wasn't nearly as neat with his trash collection as she was, but what did you expect from a drunk -- then walked down the street to collect the lid.

It lay tilted against the curb in front of the next house down. As she bent to pick it up, she heard a screen door slam behind her.

Well, she had gotten her wish: the inconsiderate jerk was awake.

"What in hell are you doing?" he barked. He looked scary, in his sweatpants and torn, dirty T-shirt, a black scowl on his unshaven face.

She turned and marched back to the worse-for-wear pair of cans and slammed the lid down on top of his can. "Picking up your garbage," she snapped.

His eyes were shooting fire. Actually they were just bloodshot, as usual, but the effect was the same. "Just what is it you have against letting me get some sleep? You're the noisiest damn woman I've ever seen -- "

The injustice of that made her forget she was a little afraid of him. Jaine stalked up to him, glad she was wearing shoes with two-inch heels that lifted her up so she was level with his...chin. Almost.

So what if he was big? She was mad, and mad beat big any day of the week.

"I'm noisy?" she said through gritted teeth. It was tough to get much volume when her jaw was locked, but she tried. "I'm noisy?" She jabbed her finger at him. She didn't want to actually touch him, because his T-shirt was torn and stained with...something. "I'm not the one who woke the whole neighborhood at three o'clock this morning with that piece of junk you call a car. Buy a muffler, for God's sake! I'm not the one who slammed his car door once, the screen door three times -- what, did you forget your bottle and have to go back for it? -- and left his porch light on so it shone into my bedroom and kept me from sleeping."

He opened his mouth to blast her in return, but Jaine wasn't finished. "Furthermore, it's a hell of a lot more reasonable to expect people to be sleeping at three o'clock in the morning than it is at two in the afternoon, or" -- she checked her watch -- "seven-twenty-three in the morning." God, she was so late. "So back off, buddy! Go crawl back into your bottle. If you drink enough, you'll sleep through anything."

He opened his mouth again. Jaine forgot herself and actually poked him. Oh, yuk. Now she'd have to boil her finger. "I'll buy you a new can tomorrow, so just shut up. And if you do anything to hurt my mom's cat, I'll take you apart cell by cell. I'll mutilate your DNA so it can never reproduce, which would probably be a good thing for the world." She swept him with a blistering look that took in his ragged, dirty clothes and unshaven jaw. "Do you understand me?"

He nodded.

She took a deep breath, reaching for the rein on her temper. "Okay. All right, then. Damn it, you made me cuss; and I'm trying not to do that."

He gave her a strange look. "Yeah, you really need to watch that damn cussing."

She pushed her hair out of her face and tried to remember if she had brushed it this morning. "I'm late," she said. "I haven't had any sleep, any breakfast, or any coffee. I'd better leave before I hurt you."

He nodded. "That's a good idea. I'd hate to have to arrest you."

She stared at him, taken aback. "What?"

"I'm a cop," he said, then turned and walked back into his house.

Jaine stared after him, shocked. A cop?

"Well, fuck," she said.

Copyright © 2000 by Linda Howington

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Mr. Perfect 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 236 reviews.
Vivacie More than 1 year ago
One thing I love about Linda Howard is that she writes murder and mysteries for people who don't like...well, murder and mysteries. She combines everything into a package that's a perfect mix of sex (s'cuse me, romance), mystery, thriller, and dialogue that makes you laugh out loud. Linda Howard is an auto-buy on my list and Mr. Perfect is not an exception. I'd be lying if I said I didn't read her books for the hunky male characters (who usually aren't buttholes, control freaks, Edward Cullen, etc) and the tension that is almost always guaranteed between the main couple, in this case: Jaine and Sam. I love Jaine and her smart mouth. She always has a comeback, and she is the leader when it comes to making you laugh or snort- note: do not drink while reading this book, you will spew it all over yourself. Add a sexy cop named Sam and you have chemistry that sizzles. I've lost count of how many times I laughed, grinned, fanned myself, and over all enjoyed myself because of these two characters and when they argued it was golden. - Just saying, Sam would be my Mr. Perfect, I really liked his character that well. In Mrs. Howard's books, there's always the 'bad guy' that's after the main character. In Mr. Perfect, the bad guy is written in a way that makes you want to double check your locks and take precautions at night. You won't even guess who it is until after she's told you and they've killed several times- unless you have really awesome deductive skills. The hunt is always full of suspense, but never enough that you flat out feel terrified. I do feel a little let down that the confrontation scene wasn't bigger. I didn't feel the threat (as in OMG she's about to die!!) on Jaine's life during the scene, there was just something missing. I read this one in a little over a day and I loved every single minute of it.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
STOP THE PRESSES! An book found on the romance aisle that can hold a point of view. One that didn't strike me as flowery in descriptions or the sex scenes. One that actually *gasp* had witty dialogue. One that actually gave the heroine, Jaine, friends that felt real and I cared about. One that wrote a romantic hero I found appealing and sexy. (And I liked it wasn't an instant attraction for once--that Jaine's first impression of Sam was that he was a "jerk"--that for once the attraction was something that *built*.) Now, the book's not--well, perfect. The book revolves around this list four friends make up about the perfect man. I found it far fetched the list would kick up the fuss it did in this book, even gaining them an appearance on television. The villain struck me as over the top and cliched. And I thought the romantic relationship progressed way too fast. But damn this was fun to read. Fun--and often funny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really spicy sex! I thought the book started out a little slow and then the hot cop next door showed up. Wooee, that took the story up a couple of notches! I was prepared to not like this book, but was pleasantly surprised. I would recommend it if you are looking for an entertaining, quick read. Just don't let anybody read over your shoulder during the sexy parts!
walstonc59 More than 1 year ago
This is a great of Linda Howard's best, I think. Keeps you on your toes all the way to the end. You won't be disappointed.
Karen Lamarre More than 1 year ago
Hot, fun,sexy and I'm only on page 101! Don't miss this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Perfect is a hilarious and sexy thriller! Jaine and Sam are one of my favorite couples. They sizzle and ignite!!
1traumamama More than 1 year ago
Very good. Couldn't wait to find out who done it!
BookChick79 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one day. It had the right mix of suspense and love to make it a great romance novel. The twist at the end was unexpected and the entire story was well-written. The female and male lead characters were endearing and funny. If there was an epilogue or more sections from Sam's (the male lead's) point of view, I would have given the book a five. Even with four stars, I will definitely reread!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Every Friday after working all week at Hammerstead Technology, Jaine, T.J. Luna, and Marci meet at the local watering hole for some wine, food, and talk. Jaine, the leader and most outspoken of the friends, discusses what she feels are the most desirable traits in a man. Her three buddies join in and soon they create the MR. PERFECT list. The first five requirements are serious, but the remainder deteriorates into a farce to include penis size.

Marci gives the list to a friend who manages to place it in the company newsletter. Soon, the list becomes a media event as TV and newspaper reporters bombard the quartet of women requesting interviews. However, the satirical list triggers a murderous response by a peer who decides in a rage that all four women must die. Jaine¿s lover and neighbor, detective Sam Donovan is in a race against a psychopathic killing machine ultimately targeting his cherished significant other.

MR. PERFECT starts off humorously, but quickly combines elements from romantic suspense with a thriller that gives the book a cross genre appeal. The romance between the hero and heroine is hot and sensually explicit. The friendship between the women is special and adds to the overall feel of the taut story line as it juxtaposes against the ravings of a solitary lunatic. With her perfect list, Linda Howard is destined to be on the New York Times best-selling list.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DeeDee2002 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my Linda Howard favorites. Drama and laughs. Loved the hero in this story.
lilbutton More than 1 year ago
1st read by this author i cant wait to read more by her now! This book was funny, suspenseful, exciting, sexy and truely hard to put down. Loved the authors voice. Great surprise ending!
summerwine More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this one down! Steamy and suspenseful. I'll take Mr. Perfect, please...enough said!
Jaymie Sanchez More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorites. I always recommend it to clients and friends. I couldnt put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after reading some great reviews about it, and because I usually enjoy Linda Howard´s books. I was quite disappointed with it. The plot starts really slowly and the are chapters there are entirely a transcription a every day activities or conversation (wake up, fed the cat, took a shower, etc...). The main couple is great and funny, but are quite neglected through the book... The focus is in the murdering, but it isn´t even a very good suspense book... There are many other Howard´s book that are more worthwhile, like After the Night, Heart of Fire and Angel Creek...
sfayet1 More than 1 year ago
I love this book, I read it in one night. I love Sam, he is definitly my idea of Mr. Perfect! The story had me laughing one minute and crying the next. I did figure out pretty quick who the killer was, but the whys and hows of it did surprise me at the end. Will definitly keep this one for my personal library.
Vivi24 More than 1 year ago
While I prefer the romances in these books to build over a little more time, I still enjoyed the story in Mr. Perfect. The characters were great, dialogue was really well done (especially between Jaine and her girlfriends), and the romance between Jaine and Sam was steamy and fun. This book won't take you long to read! This is the first book I've picked up by Linda Howard, but it won't be my last. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Sam. I love Linda. I don't mind the spicy language; heck, I use it on occasion myself. It's real. I like the honest sex between two down-to-earth people, without a lot of mooning over it - the way Linda manages to create a mood without inundating us with adverbs - is a welcome relief. However, I found Mr. Perfect juvenile. The giggling and tittering over the List was a bit much and, frankly, I didn't give a hoot if any of those silly women got whacked. But the real clincher was the plot; Lord-a-mercy, I knew who the 'bad guy' was from the get-go. I didn't have the same POV as the characters, but I was disappointed to find out how dumb they were, and how dumb I had to be to get through it. Mr. Perfect is, in a word, lame. I like my brain teased too. Give me Gray, John, Richard, Kell and Rome. Compelling men. Compelling books. I miss them.
tikilights on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The plot line is this: 4 women concoct a list that makes up what they consider the perfect man. Some of it is racy and the leaking out of the list leads to media attention and national popularity. But the whole situation becomes serious when one of the women is murdered and it seems as if the list is responsible. My biggest complaint of the book is the main character, Jaine. The men-bashing and anger from Jaine was really irritating. Her whole character was just extreme and unbelievable in hating men and fully blaming them for her relationship problems and then a making a fast turn-around where she "falls in love" after 2 weeks of knowing Sam. And their marriage after 3 weeks of knowing each other was also cause for a lot of eye-rolling. It also had a lot of trashy sex scenes that were distracting from the plot. It seemed excessive because they barely knew each other for a few days before they primitively gave in to their lust. Don't waste money on this book, at the most just go to the library to get this book.
mandabrewer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Twisting plot, mystery, murders, psychotic killer....and steamy romance! All ingredients for a pageturner!
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I figured this one out pretty early, but the book really isn't about the mystery, it's about Jaine and her neighbor. My only problem with it is that the somewhat graphic crime scene and sex descriptions didn't seem to belong in a book where "damn" is treated as a cuss word.
cindyloumn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked the characters, but she killed off 2 of the 4 girls without a thought. It was sort of cold. But really liked the chemistry between the main male/female. Also the sex was a BIT graphic!
jonahfied on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really terrific book. Witty dialogue, good suspense, great romance.
chrissywest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr. Perfect started out a little slow, and I thought it was going to be boring. I am glad I stuck with the book. Turns out it was a real joy to read, and was extremely funny in places. There wasn¿t alot of suspense or a really stong plot, but I think it was the humor that kept me reading on. I really enjoyed all the characters, but Jaine and Sam were really funny, and had tons of chemistry. The only problem I had with this book was I thought the killer was revealed to early.