Book Review: Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward

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A (very) brief plot overview

When Caroline’s marriage fell apart she lost everything, including her children. She believed her husband, Jack, had cheated on her throughout their marriage, a claim he denied and used against her to undermine her mental health. One day, a holdall containing a notebook of photographs and evidence of Jack’s affairs arrives at Caroline’s house and Caroline decides it is time to get her life back, by whatever means necessary…

What’s good about it?

As far as storyline’s go, this one is definitely a juicy one! Jack not only had affairs, but he rated each of the women out of ten, wrote derogatory comments about them and truly made Caroline believe that she was crazy for doubting him. He is the epitome of the bastard ex and was such a fun character to hate – and hate him I did, from the start until the very last page. Even though Jack was a villainous character and a total shit, Jacqueline Ward’s writing never made him cartoonish or like something from a pantomime – he was always believably despicable. This is a strength of Ward’s writing as I imagine it is incredibly easy to turn your ‘baddie’ into a two dimensional, fully awful character, whereas Ward made sure you could understand why Jack could charm so many women.

I love how Caroline’s ideas on her revenge changed throughout the book. Initially she was hellbent on seeking revenge on Jack by outing his affairs, but the more she unveiled, the more she realised she was also outing the other women. Books usually paint the ‘other woman’ as a cold hearted, malicious person, but I like that this book didn’t. Some women didn’t know of Caroline, some did – but Jacqueline Ward showed them all to be real people who were conned and manipulated by Jack. Often we hear about women solely blaming the other woman for an affair when really there are two people at fault, so I liked that even though Caroline was a little unhinged in her revenge mission, she still grew to see a more balanced side of the argument.

This book really reminded me of ‘The Girl on the Train’, just without the shocking twist. A lot of the traits of the book are similar – terrible ex, cheating, revenge, emotional abuse, alcoholism. For anyone who enjoyed reading ‘The Girl on the Train’, this one would be one to read.

By the end of the book, I was satisfied. Caroline got the ending she deserved, Jack got what he deserved. It did feel a little bit like it tied up too neatly and I struggle to think that Caroline would have so easily slipped into a new relationship after being so badly burnt before, but after everything Caroline went through I couldn’t begrudge her the ending. She deserved a happy one.

What’s not so good?

There isn’t really a twist or big reveal in this book like I was expecting. This isn’t really necessarily a criticism, but as it was advertised in the library as a thriller I was waiting for the twist to come. For me, this book is more a tale of revenge than anything else. It was gripping, pacey and exciting, but just not completely what I was expecting when I picked it up.

Caroline posts intimate pictures of Jack and the women he cheated with, which is a criminal offence. Even though she covered her tracks by using public wifi etc, I think that the complexities of revenge porn could have been explored a little more, especially with it being such a common and topical issue nowadays.

Rate me: 9/10. I defy anyone to read this without having a strong reaction.

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