Warner Forever, $6.50, ISBN 0-446-61797-0
Contemporary Romance, 2006
Make Me a Match is a breezy and lighthearted comedic romp. However, it is one that follows the formula so closely that the end result is a very predictable read.
It is pretty much a rule set in stone in the romance genre, for example, that any successful heroine in a romance novel will eventually be swatted down to a more average level. We can’t have heroines thinking too highly of themselves and wandering too far off from their god-ordained places in the kitchen and/or maternity ward, after all. In this story, Cecilia Burns, was once a con woman type (don’t worry, she doesn’t do that sex for money thing) who split ways with her sisters after hustling enough money on one swan song assignment to put her through medical school. She’s now a cardiologist. You know, I’m really impressed that she managed to hustle her way into such a huge amount of money because… look at her. She’s a cardiologist! Short of robbing Fort Knox, I can’t imagine hustling enough money to put one’s way through medical school. At any rate, you can expect the poor dear to marry down and find delights in a more simple and “honest” way of living.
Cecilia wants to marry a rich guy. A successful heroine marrying a rich man? My goodness, that will never do. Does this insolent woman think she’s a romance hero or something? We need an intervention.
Intervention arrives in the form of Amy Burns. She’s the kook who claims to know the name of your “True Love” when she touches you. Appropriately, of course. I have rarely come across any kooky character in a romance novel that isn’t a detestable self-absorbed asshole. How nice that Amy lives up to the stereotype as she openly tries to sabotage Cecilia’s engagement even as she shameless mooches off Cecilia (while mocking the sister’s “capitalist” lifestyle in the process, because we should all be like Amy, “honest” bums who mooch off their relatives). Amy assumes that she can do anything she wants because she will be helping her sister find “True Love”.
“True Love” for Cecilia comes in the form of Finn Concord. He’s the one with the daughter. He’s a carpenter, which is the romance genre shorthand for “blue-collar man with a thirteen-inch penis”. You can see now where we are going, yes? Blue-collar man with a daughter who needs a mommy – the perfect combination to put any woman who dares to aim too high in life back in her place. It is creepy, though, how the author loves to use Finn as her soapbox. Now, I agree with her about how medical treatment should be available to everyone, even the poor, but Ms Holquist has jumped the gun way too quickly in my opinion when she has Finn lecturing Cecilia in the very first time they meet about how private practitioners like Cecilia are assholes in some way for treating only the folks who can afford them. Since I don’t see Finn building houses for free for everyone, I don’t know who makes him the authority to behave like a judgmental ass towards Cecilia in such a manner. Finn’s standard procedure in this story is to judge and assume first only to repent later. Needless to say, I don’t see much future for him and Cecilia.
As for the daughter, Maya, she scares me, she does. I keep picturing her as Ms Holquist squeezing herself into an eight-year-old girl’s clothes in this story, because Maya is Ms Holquist’s plot device to awaken Cecilia’s maternal instincts.
For some reason, Finn and Cecilia rarely have any quiet time here as the author swamps them in one slapstick-type “wacky” scene after another. Ms Holquist seems to rely way too much on the power of her cosmic forces to prove to me that it is indeed “True Love” and not the feverish ranting of an addled dipstick like Amy that is going on between Finn and Cecilia. I don’t see any true love taking place here, just a frantic and often slapstick attempt to rehabilitate a woman like Cecilia who dares to want security and money in her life.
Still, Ms Holquist does have a breezy and amusing style when it comes to her writing so I believe I may get to enjoy one of her books in the future. Not this one, though. Make Me a Match tries way too hard to remind me that my place is on my back under my husband, in the kitchen, or in the maternity ward popping out brats after brats. It also tries too hard to be funny when it isn’t even halfway close to succeeding. And most annoyingly of all, it expects me to take its word that it is “True Love” between the main characters. Maybe that one will be more believable if the “True Love” babbling comes from someone who doesn’t seem to have an out-of-control drug habit like vile Amy Burns.