Perfect Day is a conemporary m/m romance billed as a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. As a romance, it’s very good. As an adaptation of Persuasion, it drops most of the thematic points. I found the book to be enjoyable and comforting even though it didn’t quite succeed for me in the “adaptation of Persuasion” sense.
One glorious summer, Joshua and Finn fell madly in love. They intended to be together forever. At the end of the summer, Finn was going to head to L.A. to break into acting. Joshua was supposed to go with him. However, just before Finn left, Joshua broke up with him because Joshua’s aunt had advised him to do so for Finn’s own good: being openly gay would be a hindrance to Finn’s career.
Eight years later, Finn is a movie star who appears on red carpets with women but doesn’t seem to have serious relationships. Joshua is a music teacher in the same East Coast small town he was born in. Since that perfect summer, Joshua’s father disowned him (no explanation provided in the book), and now Dad is doing prison time for fraud. The family has to sell their large house to pay off debts.
Behold, who should buy the family home but Sean, Finn’s brother. Sean is such a sweetie that I would have shipped him and Joshua except that Sean has an equally sweet wife. Honestly my dream is to just go lie on their couch and have them baby me while I watch the ocean from the window. Anyway, Sean gets Finn to come and visit, which throws Joshua and Finn back into each other’s company. It’s all very awkward and sad since Finn is still furious with Joshua. Luckily, this is a romance novel, so it doesn’t stay that way.
This novel does a good job capturing the sadness of the missed chance. However, unlike the characters in Persuasion, Joshua and Finn are not “of a certain age” and there’s no sense that this would be their only chance at happiness. Also, unlike Anne in Persuasion, Joshua is openly hostile to his family and is not constantly trying to please them at the expense of his own happiness. The book would have been better if Joshua’s relationship with his father and the reasons his father cut him off (before going to jail) were explored. Above all, the book desperately needed more about Joshua and his aunt. As it is, we don’t have a full understanding of why she had so much influence on him. She should be a character and instead she’s a random plot device.
Persuasion’s theme of Anne’s growing empowerment is replaced by both Joshua and Finn finally coming out as gay and bisexual (respectively) to their friends and families. Finn and Joshua are both living lives that aren’t just closeted in terms of sexuality, but are closed to any intimacy. Joshua is so private that he assumes everyone in town knows that he’s gay and accidentally outs himself during Truth or Dare:
It wasn’t every day he accidentally came out to a room full of people without intending to be in the closet in the first place. It might have been funny if it hadn’t been so pathetic. He’d never tried to hide his sexuality after his father cut him off, but apparently he’d shut himself away so effectively that no one knew even the most basic thing about him.
I thought the romance in this book was sweet and sexy. I loved the descriptions of weather and the ocean. I also loved the warmth of Finn’s family and the warmth of the community. There are a lot of creature comforts in this book – soft old t-shirts, oversized sweaters, cookies, lattes, and warm gloves. A sojourn to New York provides some glamour. The romance has tension but everything around the romance is soothing and frankly these days I need some serious soothing. Because of the lack of development with Joshua’s family, this falls short of an A, but it’s excellent comfort reading. I very much enjoyed it and now would like to drink a latte by the ocean while wearing a large sweater, please. I’ll take some cookies, too.
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