Picture Perfect by Reon Carter
(Genesis/Indigo, $8.95, PG-13) ISBN 1-58571-004-0
***
Picture Perfect is the debut novel by Midwestern author Reon Carter. It is the story of photographer Cassidy Adams and professional baseball player Brian Lassiter.

It has been a year since Cassidy has moved from Mobile to Cincinnati. She needed a change of scenery after learning that the man with whom she had a three-year relationship had impregnated another woman. Cincinnati, where her maternal aunt and only living relative resided, seemed like the place to go. As Cassidy began to establish her business, she made friends and volunteered at a local children's center. It was there she met Brian Lassiter, baseball star and hometown favorite.

Although Brian and Cassidy are attracted to each other, she hesitates entering into a relationship with him because he is a professional athlete. She is convinced that Brian has an entourage of women in every city and is determined not to be hurt again. Tabloid accounts about Brian with a Frederick's of Hollywood model don't help his cause. However, a major threat to their relationship is Brian's ex-wife, actress Shayla Walters.

Brian and Shayla were married after a whirlwind courtship. But the marriage ended after Brian discovered her manipulative nature and her unwillingness to spent time in Cincinnati with him during the off-season. Shayla has discovered the error of her ways and has mounted a no-holds-barred offensive to win him back. But Brian is immune to his ex-wife's machinations. Shayla views Cassidy's growing relationship with Brian as her only obstacle and is determined to destroy it. Her campaign is aided and abetted by Cassidy's own insecurities.

As it Shayla's schemes weren't enough, Cassidy discovers another reason to end things with Brian. Like Brian, Cassidy carries the trait for sickle cell disease. H e wants to marry her and have children. There is a one-in-four chance that any children they conceive may have sickle cell disease. Brian is active in sickle cell organizations and fundraising after his sister's agonizing death from the disease. But Cassidy opts not to tell Brian that she has learned she carries the trait and concocts another reason for the break up.

Reon Carter has created a complex story about trust, illusions and communication. She has presented her subjects through what photographers would call the “parallax view.” It is a look at something from two different vantage points not aligned with the subject. For Brian and Cassidy, it creates several big misunderstandings.

Reon Carter's romance writing career is off to a good start with Picture Perfect. Although I found Cassidy a bit whiny at times, the overall relationship between the main characters is believable. There are a handful of gaffes that are consistent with the first work by a new author. Carter has created a set of supporting characters that play well off Cassidy and Brian without getting in the way. There are several characters I would like to know more about, including the secondary romance between Natalie and Greg.

Picture Perfect has earned Reon Carter a spot on my Emerging Authors list as one to watch. I am looking forward to her next book.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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