Once Perfect

Once Perfect

by Cecy Robson

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His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected in Cecy Robson’s raw, steamy series debut—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn.
Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.
Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.
As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553391169
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Series: Shattered Past Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 85,307
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“Malibu Barbie. We need more cocktail napkins!”

I stopped wiping the bar booth, torn between throwing my bucket at Sam or at the cluster of bouncers chuckling at his Barbie dig. I still had two more booths to clean before the doors to the Main Line’s infamous Club Excess opened and the real work began. A crowd of spoiled brats―offspring of Philly’s wealthiest families―with too much money and too much attitude already crowded the doors. I should know. I used to be one of them. Except they still had the money.

I had a screaming boss.


“Jesus, Sam, I’m going.” I tossed my towel on the table and stomped across the dance floor in my black thigh-high boots. If it weren’t for the crazy tips the drunk idiots dropped like bowling balls, no way would I work at a place where I had to accessorize tiny black shorts and a skimpy tank with these hooker boots. The white dress shirt tied at my belly was Sam’s way of compromising when me and a few of the other waitresses complained about our new “uniforms.” The more desperate among us tied it closer to their cleavage. I didn’t. Even if it meant less money, I wanted to hang on to what little pride I had left.

My steps slowed as I neared the group of bouncers huddled around Mateo. He was young, younger than at least half of them, and still they looked up to him. Considering Mateo was an ex-con who fought in fight clubs, you’d think the staff would avoid him. I sure did. Hell, I’d barely spoken to him in the six months I’d worked at Excess, using any excuse to keep my distance. That said, there was something about him that made people take notice. His burly arms crossed his chest. Power was inked on one forearm in bold Gothic lettering, Wrath on the other, and black flames crawled up both, disappearing beneath the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt.

My puny shoulders tensed as I drew closer. Mateo had served time for beating some poor guy so brutally the victim had spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from the bashes to his face and body. I watched Mateo, a lot. Every now and then, I’d catch him glancing my way, too. He’d offer me a brief nod or a small smile, but I never offered anything in return. His size, the depth of his voice, and his aptitude for violence scared me, despite his captivating looks. He moved like a panther staking out his turf, ready for anything, his steely hazel eyes taking everything in.

He spoke low and rough as the last of his crew arrived. “Listen up. Keep the drugs and the dealers out. They come in with that shit, you see anyone selling―send their asses out the door. Sam doesn’t want another OD in his place. If those rich pricks want to die, they can do it somewhere else.”
The others answered Mateo with stiff nods, except for Dale, who whistled as I walked by. “Nice ass, Evelyn . . .”

His voice trailed off. I turned to shoot him a dirty look over my shoulder only to catch the death glare Mateo was firing his way. “Leave Evie the heck alone and pay attention, Dale,” Mateo told him. Dale immediately dropped his gaze, allowing Mateo to return his attention to the rest of the group. “With the first week of classes over, these fools are looking to party hard, and the dealers are ready to assist. Don’t go it alone. Call for backup if you need it, when you need it. I’ll take point near the bar. Ant’s my second. He’ll take point left of the floor. If I’m mixed up in some other shit, you call him. Got me?”

The bouncers collectively muttered in agreement. Even Dale.

My heart was thumping against my sternum and I lost my footing. I reached for my ponytail and tightened it fast, trying to pretend that was the reason I’d tripped and not, absolutely not, because Mateo had stuck up for me and shut Dale up on my behalf. Or because he’d called me Evie. Again. No one else had ever called me that.

I slipped behind the bar where Sam was stacking another rack of glasses. “Grab two boxes and make sure they have the new logo―not the old,” he snapped. “Numbnuts spelled ‘Excess’ wrong on the last one.”

“I know, Sam, I know.” I frowned. “You’re bartending again tonight?”

“No. I just wear the apron to show off my man boobs. Of course I’m bartending. I had to fire Joe when he helped himself to the register last week!” He brushed back his crazy hair. I pegged him at roughly fifty, but his snow-white Lion King mane made him appear at least ten years older. “Hurry up, Malibu, we only have twenty minutes before those needle dicks bust down the door!”

“I’d move faster if you didn’t make us wear these boots,” I muttered.

“Quit complainin’. Those boots earned you at least three hundred the first night you wore them. I saw you counting the bills.”

Customer Reviews

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Once Perfect 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Note to authors everywhere: The cover DOES matter. It's the sole reason I bought this book. Dayum, he's hot.
Megan_BedroomBookworms More than 1 year ago
In Once Perfect we have Mateo, a Cuban bouncer and underground fighter and Evelyn (Evie) a nursing student dealing with going to school and working to pay her bills as a waitress at the Club Mateo works at. Of course a good book is never that simple, these two face family drama, ex-boyfriends, and other tragic pasts they have to work through. Once Perfect sucked me in really quickly, I found I really liked Evie as a heroine. She was a strong character but also very normal. She was dealt a blow but pulled herself up and was working toward her future. I didn't find her to be whiny or self-centered, so many of those characteristics we find in our heroines. Evie does have a lot of drama though, like a lot of drama and quite honestly there were a few times when I was like "really, she needs more crap to deal with?" Sometimes I feel like the New Adult (NA) genre books are all in competition with one another to see who can make their heroes/heroines have the most tragic pasts, and I'll tell you Evie would be in the running. There came a point when all her trauma was just too much, we could have cut it in half, still had sympathy for her and had a great story. As it was I found myself eye rolling a bit. Yet, through it all Evie has real attitude that I just loved and she handles the tragic pasts as well as can be expected so I'm still putting her in the 'likable heroine' column. Mateo was awesome. Even early in the book he was already an alpha and I loved every minute of it. These two kind of fall into their relationship a bit fast, but I really liked Mateo so I was cool with it. It made me feel like it was one of those situations that Mateo finally saw his opening so he dove in and took it. When that happens a good alpha has no time to move slow. Of course Mateo is dealing with his own stuff, but like so many out there wants to try and do it alone without the help of anyone else... which of course leads to problems when you have a strong heroine. While Once Perfect deals with some pretty tragic stuff it's also funny at times as well. I really liked being in Evie's head and hearing her inner thoughts. She's a pretty hilarious chick at times. I think my absolute favorite character would have to be Brody. He's a secondary character in this book, but is getting his own book, Once Loved, in January 2015 and I cannot wait to read it. Looks like I have another book that will have me checking netgalley every few days. For a few minutes I was worried that Cecy Robson was going to put us through a cliffhanger situation, but I am happy to report she does not. The next book will focus on another couple, but I'm sure we'll get updates from Mateo and Evelyn. Even with all the issues and angst Once Perfect never gets too bad. It was a really cute read that ended too quickly for me. I was enjoying it so much I read it in a day. If you like the NA genre, you should give Once Perfect a shot. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
jojoNE More than 1 year ago
I love bad boys with their tats and commanding presence who are big teddy bears deep inside which is exactly what drew me to this book. From the delicious book cover to the introduction of Mateo I was in full schoolgirl mode as this bad boy completely won me over with merely a glance. Mateo is the strong but silent type who was once in the Army before going to jail in defense of his sister. He's a true gentleman always protective of women and loyal to his coworkers at the bar Excess who are like family. In a life-altering moment he rescues Evelyn who he senses has a dark past of pain which is the first step in a burgeoning relationship that has her dealing with her past and him protecting her every step of the way. Mateo is the unequivocal highlight of this story! He's sweet yet sexy and respects Evelyn's fears as to taking their relationship slowly. He's an MMA fighter along with a lover though which causes friction in their relationship but made him even more enticing. Every book hero should aspire to be like Mateo and I'm still dreaming of him long after I finished the book. Evelyn was once a spoiled rich girl until her daddy killed himself. From that moment on she was alone as her rich friends and remaining family members all abandoned her. It's left her untrusting and closed off which gives the impression of being standoffish. As if that didn't make life difficult enough for her, she also has an ex-boyfriend who's stalking her and nightmares she has difficulty remembering along with a crippling fear of the dark which all allude to something terrible befalling her in the past. What that event was is obvious to me which made me immensely grateful for Mateo's care and patience in helping her deal with her past. While I admired Evelyn making her way on her own I found her a bit naive, juvenile in her emotions, and judgmental. She was hard to relate to early on with her cool demeanor but being with Mateo helped her open up, make friends, and become a stronger person. The relationship between Mateo and Evelyn started slowly with sweet and shy looks. Teeming with sexual tension it felt like it took forever for them to finally get together in a richly rewarding sexual interlude. For all their differences in class and status they were a wonderful couple who balanced each other out in a heartwarming, yet heartbreaking at times, relationship. Surrounding them was a delightful cast of secondary characters who I can't wait to get to know more about. The workers at Excess, particularly Ant and Noelle, are a colorful and outspoken group with pasts just waiting to be discovered. Though the ending was a bit rushed and some parts of the story a bit melodramatic this was an engaging start to the Shattered Past series that has me greatly anticipating the next installment.
janet34 More than 1 year ago
The man on the cover got me to read this book. Oh my god he's beautiful. The book was also a great read. Its detail into different cultures are great to see.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I loved this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great charactors that were very likeable even though they both came from devistating pasts.
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
Like all Cecy Robson books, I am in love with her heroes! Mateo(or fondly called Teo) works as a bouncer at a club and has had a terrible childhood. Evelyn,(or Evie) has probably had the same terrible childhood but has memories of something she can't quite remember. She just has nightmares and feels like she is not good enough for any guy after her last boyfriend called her damaged goods. Well, the secret eventually comes out so you have intrigue but what I absolutely love is how protective Teo is of Evie and his sisters and everything he goes thru to help them. I didn't even realize that these stories are considered New Adult but don't have that angst you get so much of in those books. Wonderful story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters and couldnt put the story down. However the end seemed pretty abrupt. Would have like to see them actually resolve their big blowup.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story of 2 people from different worlds and how they work to be together. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I loved the characters and cannot wait for the other two to come out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved, loved, loved this book. Mateo and Evelyn were a perfect match. Their chemistry was off the charts HOT! I fell instantly in love with Mateo and Ant and Chis. Teo definitely has some dependable, caring, loyal and protective friends. At times I was laughing so hard I almost peed my pants. Lol. Other times I was crying like a baby. My heart wss actually aching for Evelyn when she finally had her breakthrough. Cecy's writing made it as though I could feel her pain and her fear. This is my first book by Cecy and it won't be my last. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
AboutThatStory More than 1 year ago
This was such a great read! Darker content than I realized it would be but I couldn't put it down.  Evelyn and Mateo both come from hard pasts so I felt this undercurrent of emotion throughout while we learned all the details of what they went through. There's a nice amount of foreshadowing too that creates a really great build. It was intense, sad at times, and heart wrenching but I enjoyed how everything came together. There wasn't any major drama until the second half but all those details learned really helped with the build up to it too give it a really big impact.  I liked both Evelyn and Mateo so much, they were great characters. They had such a intense attraction and on more than one occasion Mateo gave me butterflies. They were just so sweet to one another while there was a slow build to their growing relationship and heat.  I liked the additional characters and the sub stories that were happening. I really liked Mateo’s sisters, Lety and Sofia, there was a nice intro to both of them and I will definitely read the next two books that feature each one of them. Evelyn and Mateo had to go through all this horribleness to find each other and to get to their version of a happily ever after and I liked that they fought for it and how they were there for one another, being strong when they needed to be. This was just a really great intense read and I would definitely recommend it.
BookAngelBlog More than 1 year ago
Once Perfect by Cecy Robson Review I wasn’t sure about this book when I started it. The main character seemed a little bit off. Also our guy. I wasn’t sure I was going to like him. Thankfully, I kept reading and the book just got better and better. I really like this author’s writing style. She did a good job with pacing and didn’t give too much or too little information in my opinion. I liked the demographic of the couple with him being Latina and her white. That may seem odd, but I like when the couples are different in that way, especially when the focus is on the heritage of one, in this case our guy. I definitely learned some things about Latino culture I didn’t know which I love.  As the book progressed I liked the girl more and more. I liked the angle that the author took with this character so you do see character growth from her. This is really important to me as a reader. I like to see that in books I read.  Our guy was a fighter, which is always one of my favorites. This guy seemed so SWEET! I wanted him to be my new book boyfriend! I don’t know if I have read a book recently with such a sweet, good guy who also didn’t bore me to tears.  I liked the professionalism that they kept at the workplace. The workplace environment became really important and that was different in my opinion and it worked really well for this novel.  There was a lot for each of these characters to work through in this book and I liked the life like aspect of that.  Spoiler alert************************************************************** I loved that at the end she didn’t let him break up with her. They never broke up which was nice. I am so sick of the lets break up because we aren’t communicating or one of us is being stupid and then we get back together later. She knew they were stronger together and I liked that. End of Spoiler************************************************************ Overall a really great story, with lots of real life issues. The 4/5 stars comes from the beginning not having a big enough hook for me.  Note: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once Perfect by Cecy Robson My rating: 5 of 5 stars Cecy Robson is a new-to-me author but after reading Once Perfect, I'm on a mission to catch up with what I missed out on by not knowing about her. She definitely won me over with Mateo and Evie. Loved these two so much. Not only is the cover OUTSTANDING, but more important, so is the story. I was immediately drawn to Evie and Mateo. I loved reading them fall in love. It wasn't an easy journey for them but it was funny, sweet, heartbreaking and left me smiling at the end. Mateo..he had me from the start *sigh* He was definitely a swoon~worthy hero. It was so sad and it pissed me off how the dad treated not only Mateo, but his sisters as well and the mom wasn't any better. Evie was such a special heroine to me. I loved her from the beginning as well. She adapted to her new life and was making a way for herself even though it wasn't easy. She was so sweet but had trouble fitting in and making friends. It was hard to read her struggle with her past when she finally remembered what had happened to her. I loved how she continued to battle through it. They were so sweet and HOT together ~ loved their relationship. Loved how Mateo protected her and I loved how Evie took care of him. Great secondary characters...Ant was so funny and I'm interested to see if he will get his own book as well as Noelle, Dee and Big Chris. I cannot wait to read Lety and Brody and then Sophie and Killian. There were a lot of funny parts in the story as well. Ant and Mateo eating the cookies Evie made, Evie catching Sam and Diane in the kitchen and when Evie asked about Mateo's tattoo. Such a great read and looking forward to more.   Mariann at Belle's Book Bag
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. I couldn't put it down. Every girl wants a man like this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! 252 pgs
bouncyberthaCR More than 1 year ago
2.5 - "I'm good with my hands." Stars. Once Perfect is the type of book that due to its subject matter/storyline, as a reader I feel a little guilty for not really liking it. This may just be me not gelling with the author’s writing style, as it wasn’t all bad, and I will try to pinpoint my reasons for why it didn’t really work for me. It started out pretty good, I liked Evie initially and Mateo was pretty swoonworthy with his protectiveness of her, but as the book progressed the chemistry I think I was meant to be feeling between them just didn’t really materialize. I found their conversations and a lot of their interaction at points bordering on what felt like a parent (Evie) talking down to a teenager (Mateo). ”Sweetie, leave her alone. He’s being nice to her.” The whole use of the word ’Sweetie’ got a little cringe-worthy at times too, bearing in mind we are talking about a 23 year old guy and a 21 year old girl, this isn’t a word I would equate to being used in this age group so much, and the whole writing style for me felt like and older person writing how they thought twenty-somethings would interact, and the language just didn’t feel loose enough. I think there is a fine line when you are holding a reader in suspense with regards to major plot developments, but we were well into the second half of the book before anything of interest really happened. Yes there are a few hints and flashbacks here and there as to what happened in Evie’s past, as well as Mateo’s familial issues and I kind of worked out where it was going to go before it was officially confirmed, but for me it just took too long to really get started. ”You callin’ me a distraction.” The second thing that really bugged me about Once Perfect was the whole cliché rich girl, down on her luck - poor Latino boy from the wrong side of the tracks vibe. This trope usually works for me but what with the fact Evie came over pretty condescending towards Mateo (and his family) a lot of the time, and Mateo’s stereotypical dead-beat, down on their luck family, I just found it all really cheesy. And I am sorry, but I just can’t get onboard with any guy from whatever walk of life saying that ”It’s not something we do” when asked why he hasn’t gone to the police or the authorities in an attempt to stop his druggie douche-bag father from beating seven kinds of s**t out of his sisters, mother and himself on a regular basis. I know this is fiction but this sort of behavior and acceptance about something that is wholly unacceptable just makes me angry. I think this book shows promise, but coupled with the above points and possibly the most clinical and unsexy blow/hand-job I have ever read, it all just fell extremely flat for me. ARC provided via Netgalley, I am sorry I cannot give a more positive review on this occasion.
CathieArms More than 1 year ago
I received this book as an ARC from the publisher with the understanding that I would give an honest review - good or bad.   I have to say in complete honesty that I truly enjoyed this book.  Though my copy had a lot of grammatical errors that I will assume was resolved in the final editing, they - for once - didn't take away from the stellar storytelling of this author.  The book was so engrossing that I was able to overlook the errors in favor of the story.  I was hooked from the first few pages and I stayed hooked through the entire story. What was so appealing about this book?  One name:  Mateo - the main male character.  I have to say that he may be one of my favorite male characters from any book.  He's tough as nails when necessary, but he has a heart of gold.  From his first interaction with Evelyn, I was hooked on his character.  I loved everything about him. This book had a few twists and turns that I hadn't expected, and even the characters that I wanted to dislike (ex-boyfriend, Donovan) ended up having redeeming qualities.   I don't give too many 5-star ratings for romance novels, but this one is deserving.  I would definitely read more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
**** 4 Stars **** This book held my interest throughout. It was sweet, funny, steamy & sad @ times. Can't wait to read the next book!! ***233 pages***