Review: Past Perfect

There are a lot of tales of forbidden love. Love between two warring families. Love between vampires and mortals. Werewolves and humans. Angels and humans. Faeries and humans. (People really need to stop trying to hook up with paranormal creatures; clearly it was NOT meant to be.) Anyhow, you get the idea.

It is not until Leila Sales’ Past Perfect that there has been such a moving and hilarious tale of forbidden love between two such different people: a Colonial reenactor and a Civil War reenactor. Chelsea and Dan wear different costumes. They work in different time periods. And their fellow employees are at war. Chelsea and Dan hooking up would be an act of betrayal. But maybe every war needs a Benedict Arnold.

Past Perfect is not only the perfect book for history nerds, it is also a fun, flirty, hysterical book for lovers of contemporary fiction. After all, Past Perfect is set in the present. And in the past. According to Chelsea, history and the present are all happening in the same time, but that doesn’t mean people can’t change, and change she does. Like any teenager, Chelsea has a lot to learn about family, friendship, and romance, and her journey through the awkwardness of adolescence is pure pleasure to read. With a voice as snarky, conversational, and confessional as Jessica Darling, Chelsea is a character who is sure to stick with you.

This novel ranks as one of my favorites because it strikes a perfect balance of humor and seriousness. There are plenty of one liners, but the quips are matched by deeper explorations of the relationship between past and present and the impact that relationship has on the people of both time periods. Past Perfect is quirky and clever, but fans of romance will also appreciate some of its steamier moments. (Those who have read the book already will likely agree that Sales deserves some commission on trampoline sales. Enough said.) Beyond that, Sales also expertly develops the unique setting, vividly portraying the reenacting villages, which allows them to serve as characters in their own right.

There’s a little something for everyone here. Well, except for people who like to be bored. There’s nothing for those people in this book, I’m afraid. Everyone else should definitely read Past Perfect; it’s the kind of book I know I’ll be relentlessly shoving in peoples’ hands.

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7 Responses to "Review: Past Perfect"

  • Ha, I just commented on a review earlier today and was talking about the romance and was all “c’mon, trampoline scene?! enough said!”

    Anyway, I totally agree, this book is fabulous. Leila Sales is hilarious, but there’s a total depth there as well. Plus I’m a major history nerd, so I loved that aspect.

    1 Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said this (September 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM)


    • Hah, that’s too funny. Obviously the trampoline scene just has that effect on everyone 😉

      2 Melanie said this (September 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM)


  • Great review. I had not been really excited about this book until I read your review. I think it’s the cover. When I hear it’s partly historical, and then I see the cover, I just can’t relate. I just need to read the reviews and forget the cover! Thanks!

    3 Annette said this (September 15, 2011 at 6:44 PM)


    • Yes, pretend the cover doesn’t exist. I don’t have a clue what that cover has to do with anything. It doesn’t really fit with the book–the playfulness is there, but that’s about it.

      4 Melanie said this (September 15, 2011 at 6:46 PM)


  • LOVED this book. Too funny.

    5 Anna said this (September 16, 2011 at 8:25 AM)


  • Yay for relentless shoving! No wait, that came out wrong.

    Was this a finished/signed copy? You may need to start a list of “Books to Send to Capillya.”

    6 capillya said this (September 17, 2011 at 2:50 PM)


    • You know I am always trying to shove books at you, but alas, this was only an egalley or it would be on its way to you RIGHT NOW.

      7 Melanie said this (September 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM)


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