Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-596-2
Fantasy Romance, 2009
The Matchmakers pairs drifter Nick Garret with Fae outcast Calliope as unlikely allies in a quest to help three couples find true love. What happens is that Callie’s taskmistress Freya is furious when Callie, a Fae who helps humans find true love, screwed up her last assignment by granting a woman a wish with painful consequences for all parties involved. Now Callie has to work with Nick, a man who lives only for easy women and booze, to pair three couples or remain a mortal for the rest of her existence. Nick, however, is going to require some work on her part to be shaped into a cooperative ally. He doesn’t believe in love, for a start.
For about its first two-thirds, this is a fun story. There are plenty of humorous moments that have me chuckling out loud as Callie tries to get Nick to cooperate with her. Nick’s reaction to Callie’s presence is amusing too. These two are fun to read and I wish the magic between them has lasted.
But I eventually grow tired of the manner in which Nick’s womanizing ways are attributed to his sad past. Oh, come on, he’s an adult, there is no need to act as if he is some damaged fellow who needs to be coddled with mittens. The whole “Nick just needs to experience true love to be a whole and good person!” theme eventually becomes overpowering and, to me, too ridiculous to be taken seriously as a result. I’ve always found the whole “womanizers are just sad guys who only need to find the right woman – they can’t help themselves because of their sad loveless past” trope in the romance genre pretty ridiculous in the first place, as it shifts the blame of the man’s treatment of women onto those women for not being the “right person”, but this story takes that trope to a whole new level.
Because of this cotton mitten treatment, Nick is allowed to be stubborn for way too long in this story. I swear, he actually regresses in intelligence as the story progresses. Sure, he apologizes prettily in the end, but by that point, I’ve begun to view him as this dim-witted asshole with the handprints of a million skanky women all over his much-used body. Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, make him spend a week or so in a decontamination chamber before we allow him to have sex with another woman? Poor Callie, when she falls in love with Nick, she seems to lose considerable amount of brainpower as well. How did we go from a fun story to a story where love turns the people involved into fools?
Make no mistake, I don’t think The Matchmakers is a bad or unreadable book in any way. It is a fun bouncy read. It’s just that I eventually get annoyed by the way Nick seems to get away with all his crap in this story, hence the pay-off isn’t as good as I’d have liked where this one is concerned.