Jill and I have this new game we play. I recommend her something outside of her comfort zone, and she recommends me her favourite romance books. It works perfectly for me, because I get an excuse to read another romance.
'Match Me If You Can' is a contemporary romance novel and that's a pretty new territory for me.
I am used to Regency stuff where the characters are so proud and prejudiced that they will go through the whole book before they verbalise what they feel. The insane Victorian conventions (especially the one about never ever saying what you think) can believably keep the characters happily occupied for 300 pages before the grand finale.
In paranormal romance it is also pretty straightforward: "You're a human, I am a werewolf. It will never work, baby." To spice things up the characters are not only of different species; they are also often out to kill each other and you can clearly see how this can put a strain on a relationship.
Now contemporary? What can possibly keep away two 21st century humans from each other? Their own stupidity only.
Meet Heath, the alpha of alpha males - rich, successful, handsome, intelligent. The most together man you've seen. Of course, he is emotionally disabled; that’s how they make this model. At the age of 34 Heath decides it’s time to find a wife and he goes on about it like a real businessman. He hires Annabelle, a matchmaker, and makes her sit through all his 20-minute dates to make sure everything goes quickly and efficiently. Heath has a guy to pick matching shirts and ties for him and now he has Annabelle to find him a matching wife… And Jill thought that the characters in ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ were weird!
Oh, and you can just tell that before the end of the book this guy would be in tears and on his knees. When it comes to characters like this one, romance authors don’t pull any punches. They have a special place in their hell where they send those emotionally cold individuals. And why shouldn’t they? This sort of characters would laugh at their little romance books in real life, so in the book Heath and the likes will always have love beat them and break them before it can fix them. And to add to the offense it is usually this sort of hapless, loserish, quirky, clumsy, not all that gorgeous Annabelle-like heroine that will do that to them. Ha, ha. Take that. Oh, the cruel, sadistic pleasure we draw from watching the mighty fall.
There is also the other version of this tale, and conveniently it featured in this book as a secondary plot. It is even more outrageous when a woman is this cold, calculated, manicured lioness. To match her we need something more than some quirky and clumsy character because who the hell would want to read about that? Men, and especially men in romance novels, are not allowed to be quirky-clumsy. So enter The Perfect Guy. Not only is he handsome and successful, but also balanced and in touch with his emotions (yeah, don’t look for them in the real world; they are from the same realm as werewolves and vampires). Susan E. Phillips is not any less cruel when breaking Portia – the alpha female. The woman will be a complete mess before she can get her happy ending. We’re talking failing business, packs and packs of marshmallows and leaving the house in sweatpants and no make-up. Poor thing! Forty years of calorie counting when all she needed was love.
If all that sweet cruelty somehow fails to entertain you, the book also features cameos by a transgender, a three-year old cell-phone thief, and an annoying 80 year old who wants a new wife.