I am not a reader of romance novels. When I thought to give it a try, I spent a cople weeks looking for something that wasn’t an harmony or a rip-off of 50 shades. I had almost given up when I stumbled into Maddie Dawson’s last book.
I really enjoyed the premises of the story: girl meets her fiancé family and they are terrible, except for the weird great-aunt that everyone ignores. Too strange for a good family in high society. But marnie’s wedding goes sideways and when Blix’s dies from cancer, she inherits her Brooklyn house. With all the magic and the people living in it.
I appreciated the fact that this book, though a romance novel, is about finding out what you want from life and where’s the place you belong to. Usually romance media are concerned only with love, leaving all else in the background like life stops because you’re in love. In Matchmaking for Beginners, Marnie has also to understand if the life she has always dreamt about is also the life she wants. She makes friends along the way, so we see different love potrayed in the novel (family love, friendship, eros). I appreciated this side of the narration.
However, there were many downsides to this book.
First and foremost, there were too many males in this story for the romance to be believable. Marnie goes from divorce to new boyfriend to new fiancé to going to bed with her ex-husband to finding the love of her life in a span of four months. Things that make you go mmmh. If there had been more pages, or the narration had spanned at least a year, it might have made more sense. Like this, it seems that Marnie is desperatly looking for a lover instead of falling in love, which should be her growth arc, especially when Patrick is concerned. Speaking of which, I haven’t really felt their relationship build up. Their moments happen when the reader was already supposed to know that Marnie was in love with him and prior to that their friendship wasn’t shown much. Yes, I would’ve read chapters made entirely of texts and messages between the two of them. I hoped there was at least one.
I feel like the author wanted to make her experience a quicker version of Blix’s: the self-centered husband who goes to Africa, the boring one and the final, perfect match. But what makes Blix believable is that she was 80 years old and that her experiences happened organically throughout her life. Since it takes away the credibility of the story, I wouldn’t have put this parallel between the two of them. The idea of Marnie being a sort of spiritual daughter to Blix could’ve been reinforced with more universe blessings and magic.
At least the characters were decent. Noah was enough of a brat to hate him and when you can hate a character, then the writer has done her job. I have no opinion on Jeremy, which might be the point since he was supposed to be the boring guy. Did I like the implicit “nice guy” thing when Marnie dumped him again? No, of course not. I found Marnie to be the least relatable of the lot, while Blix was the most interesting. I also enjoyed how Patrick was portrayed: he was the typical nice but damned, don’t pity me guy, but he wasn’t trope-y (as it’s cool to say nowadays) about it. If only we could’ve seen more of his development arc! If only!
I enjoyed the writing, though I found the story to slow after Marnie goes to Brooklyn and starts to settle, since nothing really happens for some chapters and I couldn’t see the point in all the pages when there was nothing going on.
In the end I gave two stars to this book. I enjoyed reading it even, but it’s started dragging on a bit after the first half and the romance wasn’t portrayed in a way I could relate to. I enjoyed the characters, but there wasn’t much in term of the relationship built between characters.