"Beautiful Romance With Real Life Drama"
Reviewed by Samantha R
Posted January 23, 2014
Contemporary | Romance
Isabel Lang and Aidan Roycroft were the best of friends
growing up, both burying and sometimes suppressing their
love for the other. Aidan hid it through strings of dates,
and Isabel hid it behind a calm, collected face. When one
night takes an unexpected turn, the two go from friends to
husband and wife to lovers to separated in hours after Aidan
is falsely accused of a crime. Seven years later, Isabel and
Aidan have no contact with each other and both are with
other people. When Isabel needs help, she tries contacted
Aidan again, but no one could imagine what would happen
PERFECT TIMING by Laura Spinella is a warm, exciting love
story that heavily succeeds in gripping your heart. It
switches from past to present with clever style and grace,
and it spins the drama of the story beautifully. I never
found myself bored or disinterested in the story at all.
Spinella uses dialogue and an enchanting author voice that
hooks you every page and makes you extremely eager to find
out the finishing plot.
While the practical, but still somehow mesmerizing,
relationship between Isabel and Aidan takes center stage,
the individual character depth in shines. Aidan and Isabel,
in different ways, both struggle with non-traditional
families. You see Isabel struggle to accept her father, and
Aidan struggle to not become his. The side stories with
their families and their attempts at not defining themselves
through them are completely gorgeous and tear-worthy. Next
to the ending, the family dynamic is my favorite part of the
I do wish the length it takes to introduce adult Aidan and
move the present story further was shorter. It is in no way
a severe fault or even a moderate one in my eyes (especially
once you learn the rest of the plot), but it would have been
nice to see him a little sooner in the story. After spending
so much time with him in the past, I wanted to see his side
of the present more and more. It is all very much worth it
in the end, but I still think it deserves to be noted.
All in all, PERFECT TIMING is one of my favorite
romance/drama novels I have ever read. I love the power in
the character and the beauty of the story. This is the first
novel by Laura Spinella that I have read, but it definitely
won't be the last or only one.
There's rock, there's a hard place, then there's Aidan &
What's a Jersey Girl to do when she moves to
Catswallow, Alabama? Isabel Lang finds the answer in an
unlikely bond with the musically gifted Aidan Roycroft. The
two share everything from a first kiss to startling family
secrets. But when Aidan is accused of a violent crime, the
two flee to Las Vegas where Isabel's future comes tumbling
Seven years later, the past is buried, including any
relationship with Aidan. Isabel is busy running a radio
station and closing in on commitment with Nate Potter, a guy
who defines ideal. Life seems cozy until new station
management demands a sudden-death ratings grabber, putting
everyone's future on the line.
What should be a simple
solution leads to a stunning revelation as Isabel is forced
to call on the past and the only rock star she knows.
There was nothing enticing about waking up
to a three-hundred pound man who smelled faintly of cheese—
even if he was a silver
tongued veteran. Worse, he’d managed to utter the
name Aidan Royce before Isabel could untangle mascara
laced lashes, prying open an eye. Her
hand groped for the volume as radio DJ Chip Wrangle wrapped
things up, Isabel hearing a velvet-
timbre mention of the Grammy winning, mega selling music ico
n. But that couldn’t be right, she
wagered, sitting upright. “Hey, did he just say—”
Rico ignored her, responding to the DJ’s vo
ice as he always did, lazily stretching and
vacating the bed. Isabel cocked her head at the radio. As
the content manager for 98.6—the
Normal FM for Easy Listening, she’d put a firm morato
rium on celebrity gossip. But the aromatic
Chip made no other reference, moving onto their Monday morni
ng salute to the 60s. “Just a
dream,” she said, flopping back onto the pillow. A hazy gaze
floated upward, Frankie Valli and the
Four Seasons crooning Walk Like a Man as Rico and his
virile gait disappeared into the kitchen.
He insisted on his breakfast and she rolled into reality, ye
lling, “I’m coming!” The two had met
while Isabel was vacationing in Key West, Rico a refugee she
’d picked up near the Hemingway
house. He was the definition of machismo, excessive
manliness an inbred trait. Dangling her
noticeably more feminine legs over the side, Isabel tucked a
thick thatch of hair behind her ear.
She did a fast double take of the radio before rising. On he
r way out of the bedroom she grabbed a
robe and a glance in the mirror. “Oh, good gosh! Seriously?
” She wet her fingertips, only
managing to smear a smudge of mascara, doubly relieved that
it was just Rico.
Following the sounds of his disgruntled dem
and, before daring to fill a coffee cup, Isabel
set about preparing his breakfast. But she did turn on the t
elevision as she passed through the
living room. There she picked up a telltale trail: necktie,
camisole, sport coat, flouncy skirt,
undershirt, one black high heel. She brushed by an
empty wine bottle, a mediocre merlot that had
instigated last night. Rico called again, squashing an
amorous visual. “Enough already!” There
was a death stare in the kitchen where two sets of cat green
eyes pulsed. The TV blared. Just to
make her point she smiled and hesitated. “Say again? Matt L
auer is drowning you out!” But it
was smell, not sound, that dominated as odor penetrated from
beneath a popped tin top. She
couldn’t deny him, even as she gagged, Rico’s cries morphing
into a loud purr, rubbing lovingly
against her leg. She set the bowl of stinky fish on the flo
or, scratching a tufted ear as he gobbled
hunks of vacuum packed sardine. “Bueno, Rico? Si, bueno,” I
sabel said, having mastered a couple
of words in what she assumed to be his native dialect.
From her squatted position Isabel listened.
She waited for national media to repeat local
radio news and confirm that Aidan Royce was, in fact, dead.
It was the only fathomable reason for
it to have made the 98.6 morning host chat. Not dead, as it
turned out. Just under arrest. Rico
wriggled out from ardent strokes as Isabel absorbed Lauer’s
words about Aidan Royce and a high
speed chase, driving drunk, and assaulting an officer. She
flipped him off, stalking back to the bedroom.
The ride to work was work, Isabel listening
for another 98.6 update, mentally composing
a strongly worded email to Chip Wrangle. But the 7:15 chat
slot was filled with their bimonthly
visit from Eleanor Papp who ran the Providence Humane Societ
y. She only talked about adoptable
pets and donations the shelter needed. While 98.6 listeners
were old school, conventional to the
point of mundane, they were not without a heart. Isabel fou
nd the radio station offices quiet,
beating Tanya and Mary Louise to work. The sound system was
n’t on and she made no effort to
correct the matter. Whether it came from Chip Wrangle, CNN,
or two soup cans tied to a string,
Aidan Royce would dominate the airwaves and Isabel wasn’t in
terested. Before shifting gears she
crafted an email to Chip where she bolded the words miscr
eant media blight. A Sunday night
ratings dilemma would dominate Isabel’s morning, though she
did take time to call Nate. He’d
bounded out of her bed at an ungodly three a.m. leaving most
of his belongings behind. “Hey,
sorry you had to run away to the hospital. I’m guessing you
found your shirt. I, um… I had a
really great time, Nate. Despite some miscreant radio busin
ess,” she said, brusquely hitting send,
“I’ve been thinking about what you asked.” Isabel paused in
to the empty air of voicemail. “We’ll
definitely talk about it later.” She hung up, smiling, feeli
ng less peeved at Chip as Tanya breezed
through the door. She was an impish gust of human energy.
With donut in mouth, she waved a
free hand, a double whipped cream mochachino in the
other, immediately turning the TV on.
“Hey, Isabel, mornin’, sweetie.” She sat, a
djusting a leopard print scarf as she arranged herself
behind her desk.
“Look at you,” she said, an overly tweezed eyebrow archin
g. “Is that a little Monday
glow I see?” Isabel didn’t answer. Tanya was always on the
lookout for a love
Isabel’s, her own or anyone else’s. They exchanged a smile,
Isabel’s fading as Tanya
raised the volume, though she couldn’t really argue. Workin
g in the
promotions/scheduling/content department of a sizable radio
station made current events relevant
and real news important. Aidan Royce was neither in Isabel’s
opinion, just another self-absorbed
celebrity, acting contrite for the cameras and aghast when t
he world paused to gawk.
Aside from monitoring real news, it was their job to make
the yesteryear station go, dream
up the giveaways and organize reunion concerts. 98.6—
the Normal FM was an anomaly, their
audience thriving on AM classics and an occasional tribute t
o soft rock weekend, a dash of country
before country went mainstream. Of course, she did wonder wh
at might happen when their baby
boomer listeners died off. That or satellite radio squeezed
them out. Isabel was a few years
younger than her co
workers, although she supervised the three
prong department. While their
jobs were important, they didn’t translate into talent, mean
ing they didn’t rate separate offices like
the DJs. It was fine. They were a great team and good frien
ds. Isabel liked sharing with Tanya
and Mary Louise most days. Maybe, just not so much, today.
Gliding in silent as a librarian, anyone’s first impressi
on of Mary Louise would be prim
and proper. But after three years at the radio station Isabe
l was still peeling back layers. A kale and
flaxseed smoothie was in one hand while clutched in her othe
r was last week’s In Touch
magazine. She got it for free, aka swiped it from the recyc
le bin at the convenience store on
Madison. Her polar opposite co
workers filled each other’s gaps, the reckless squall that d
one, complementing the other’s curious albeit structured lif
e. Tanya was a three-time divorcee that
polite company might refer to as overly social. Tanya had b
een to church, been to bars, and been
to bed in hopes of meeting Mr. Right there. But she was als
o adept at repurposing that well of
emotion, making up as a mother what she lacked in man sense.
She had plenty of practice with a
child from each marriage. Mary Louise, on the
other hand, was a serial monogamist, married and
childless for seven years. She’d married a man named Joe
Bland. No kidding. They’d met while
stocking up at the Dollar Tree in Woonsocket, though frugali
ty had come at a price. Last month,
Isabel rushed to meet an unusually frazzled Mary Louise in t
he emergency room. In an attempt to
tap into mature audience movies, Joe took a tumble off the r
oof and broke a number of bones.
Like standard radio and last week’s gossip, Joe’s wife fe
lt certain avenues of entertainment should
be free. But as those layers revealed, Mary Louise’s naughty
habits ran deep, quickly joining
Tanya’s tabloid television vigil.
“Have you seen this? The drunk driving thing, you’d expe
ct that from somebody like
him,” she said, crossing to her neat-as-a
pin desk. “But a high speed chase and assaulting an
officer? That’s bad behavior even for a known bad boy!” Her
arm flailed so fervently it was look
or be struck. Isabel recognized old news footage, a nightclu
b brawl the rockgod had been involved
“Aidan Royce tied to the whipping post of fame—
go figure.” Isabel rolled her eyes, saved
from further comment as an email from Nate popped up. De
finitely did not want to run away. An
unavoidable hazard of that medical oath. I was looking forwa
rd to a sleepy you. More important,
I was looking forward to an answer. You know how to keep a g
uy in suspense. She smiled,
wondering how she might have discretely engineered a six a.m
. makeover. Admiring the email for
a second longer Isabel went back to work, but not before see
ing Aidan Royce hustled past frothing
media and into a police station. It was only the half of it
, a boisterous swell of female fans having
assembled in his defense. Isabel guessed they let him Tweet
the call to action from the cruiser.
“When I heard Chip say his name,” Tanya said, coming arou
nd to stand beside Mary
“I thought the same thing!” she gasped, grasping her arm.
“Couldn’t you just see it? Sheer
California cliffs, a drug induced sex
capade, maybe an encounter with a deranged fan…” She
paused, finishing her smoothie. “What did you think, Isabel
“I thought it was a fatal fall off his ego.”
“Well, there’s no excuse for driving like a maniac and en
dangering other people or
punching a cop. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got real time.
Reopening the email from Nate, Isabel debated a reply. S
he glanced up, half listening.
“Maybe.” Her slim shoulders shrugged, clearly intrigued.
Isabel looked between her co
workers at the TV. Media outlets were already on the scene,
catching a probing glance of Aidan Royce’s backside at a bo
oking desk, his hands cuffed. She
sucked in a breath wondering how many times people needed to
see a scene like that. How many
times did she? “Confined reflection might do him good.” She
wanted to type YES! YES! YES! in
reply to Nate but opted for a winking smiley instead. Big mo
ments were better in person.
“He won’t do a day in jail,” Tanya said. “Maybe some cus
hy community service.”
“That’s true. Celebrity like his is so above the law,” Ma
ry Louise lamented, more
disappointed than miffed. She filled the coffeemaker, her p
eripheral glance on the TV. “But that’s
what happens when you wear the triple crown of fame—
talent, looks, and filthy rich. With this,”
she said, gesturing, “you can add the fantasy element of wic
“A scandalous lifestyle suits him, that’s for sure.” Tany
a remained one with the TV,
absently brushing donut crumbs from a fuzzy fuchsia sweater.
It was a fitting complement to her
bright red hair. “Aidan Royce is a textbook man
crush and all women find him irresistible.”
“Not all,” Isabel insisted, teeth sinking into the eraser
tip of her pencil.
“Your average movie or pop star, it wouldn’t be such a bi
g deal. But when it’s someone
like Aidan Royce, it’s way … way more…”
“Titillating?” Mary Louise suggested, Tanya nodding. “Ba
rring an international crisis or
freak weather phenomenon it’s all we’ll hear for days.”
“Super,” Isabel muttered, studying the segments for Sunda
y Evening with Country’s Best.
“Who knows what else will turn up? I heard
they strip searched him and his car. There
could be drugs, maybe a sex tape. Camera equipment is so dis
creet nowadays and user friendly.”
While, “You work in radio, you would know that how?”
i> ticked through Isabel’s head, she
prudently stayed on task.
“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Tanya said. “Did you see the wom
an he was with? Last October’s, Miss October.”
“I saw the dress she was wearing. I own dishtowels made
of more fabric,” Mary Louise
said, mashing the remote only to come up with the same loop
on channel four. “His publicist said
she wasn’t anybody, that Aidan was just, ‘giving her a ri
de.’ But FOX News reported that he kidnapped her!"
Tanya’s head cocked. “He’s Aidan Royce. Why would he
have to kidnap her?”
Riding the tidal wave of sensationalism, Mary Louise paus
ed. “Good point.”
“And his publicist can spin it however she likes. Nobody
’s going to believe the ‘giving her
a ride’ story,” Tanya said, punctuating the air with quo
tations marks. “Certainly not his current girlfriend."
“Oh that’s right. I forgot about her.”
“So did he, apparently,” Isabel said, a hand gripping aro
und her neck, vigorously erasing
segments for Sunday Evening with Country’s Best.
“And she’s no centerfold, a lawyer from New York, I think
Isabel glanced up, though the eraser kept moving.
“No way,” said Mary Louise. “Centerfold is much more bel
“It’s true. Actually, I read they were engaged.”
The back and forth motion of the eraser stopped, Isabel e
yeing them. “Really?” she said, a
droll smile curving over her mouth. “Engaged?”
“It was all over the tabloids a couple of months back.”
Isabel returned to her work and penciled in Delilah, thinking listeners might tune into the syndicated
“Triple crown or not, good luck to the woman who ends up
with him. Married to a rock
star, it’s glamorous but fatal.” Mary Louise poured herself
coffee, smirking at the TV. “Seriously, when does that ever
“And don’t you mean women? Celebrity marriages are
more disposable than mine,” Tanya
said. “There’ll be three or four wives between stints in re
“Maybe he’ll do a reality TV show, Polygamy & the Rock
God. Heaven knows I’d tune in,”
she said. “It would draw huge ratings when two or three end
On her words, the point to Isabel’s pencil snapped, pierc
ing her paperwork.
“Some women are so blind.” Tanya lamented. “Clearly, he’s
a womanizing scoundrel.”
Clearly, Tanya didn’t recognize her own lack of foresight
when it came to this particular
character trait. Shifting restlessly, Isabel admonished the
“You said it,” Mary Louise agreed, swirling Splenda and s
“I mean, just look at that tattoo on his neck. It only
emphasizes his twisted boundaries.”
The comment drew Isabel’s attention, her gaze
veering from Tanya’s squint onto Aidan
Royce’s latest mug shot, his blond GQ looks forever marred b
y a coiled snake. It traveled from
the base of his collarbone upward, its sharp tongue splittin
g at edge of a Boeing inspired jaw.
“Reminds me of a Japanese bondage rope,” Mary Louise said
, tipping her head at the
screen. “And not a very realistic one. He probably dabbles
in the basics, thinks he knows something."
“And if he was really into it?” Tanya queried.
Mary Louise sipped her coffee, shrugging. “Had he wanted
to make a real S&M statement,
he could have gone with a nipple clamp, combo riding crop—
maybe a slave collar.”
There was a hum of wonder from Tanya, Isabel murmuring, “
Please make it stop.”
Abandoning Sunday night’s ratings she moved onto next mon
th’s teasers, which led up to their big
summer giveaway, Fruit-of-the-Month Club for a year.
“Though I will say, whatever his motivation
, a tattoo like that took nerve.” Popping on her
glasses, she peered harder. “I bet his record label made him
“No way,” Tanya said. “Everybody knows the
tattoo was a symbol of Aidan’s
commitment to Fiona Free, the British blonde with the sitcom
“Oh, that’s right. How long were they toget
“Until her show got canceled and she moved
back to London. Two episodes in, I think.”
Instead of just snapping the point, Isabel snapped the pe
ncil right in two. “That’s not true.”
“What’s not true?” Mary Louise said, her steaming coffee
cup frozen midair.
"That's not how he got the tattoo."
She smiled, bemused. “And how would you know that?”
"I...I read it somewhere."
“No you didn’t. You hate gossip magazines. More to the
point, you don’t know the first
thing about celebrity lifestyles, particularly someone like
“I might know more than you think, Mary Louise.” She mean
t to end there, but found
herself caught between two intent stares, her mouth moving a
head of her brain. “Maybe he wasn’t
always what you see. Maybe miscreant media blight di
dn’t always define him. Maybe once, a
lifetime ago, there was some substance to Aidan Royce.” She
rose as she spoke, her coworkers
looking as if, maybe, Isabel had lost her mind.
“Anyway,” she said, sitting, grasping at self
possession and a defense theory that would have made his
publicist proud. “I can’t speak for high
speed chases, drunk driving or punching a cop. But you’re w
rong about the tattoo.”
“Have you been watching Access Hollywood, maybe sneaking
some afterhours TMZ? It’s
okay to admit you’re susceptible, Isabel.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t waste my time.”
“So how is it you know something like that?”
"I just do."
“But how?” Mary Louise pressed, skepticism bearing down.
“It’s irrelevant. Can’t you just take my word for it?”
“Not really. Besides, you brought it up. So how do you k
“Because how? Just tell me.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Oh, but I think it does.”
“I know,” she said, swallowing hard, grabbing up the piec
es of the broken pencil, “because
I was there when he got it.”
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