Can two people who seem to be complete opposites fall in love? That’s the question that Little Matchmakers addresses. The setup for this romance seemed a bit far-fetched at first, but the author made it work, and made me a complete believer in the love story.
About all Tucker MacKinnon and Garnet Cattrell seem to have in common is they each have a 10-year-old son in the same school. Tucker is a man’s man; he’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic, and his occupation is the same. Tucker runs a retreat and adventure program on a mountain in South Carolina. His is clearly a man’s world. His son Will is on his way to becoming just like Tucker. In contrast, Garnet is short, feminine, and grows her own herbs and runs a spice shop. Her 10-year-old son Petie has no interest in anything athletic; when he isn’t trying to run his mother’s business, he spends most of his time on the computer.
Tucker was attracted to Garnet when he spotted her at the beginning of the school year, but Garnet’s always been nervous around him. It’s through their sons that they’re forced into each other’s worlds. On the last day of school the boys’ teacher has a conversation with each of the parents. The boys will enter middle school in the fall and the teacher is concerned they’ll each encounter social problems. Tucker’s son is starting to be too nervous around girls, while Garnet’s son is small and may be teased by the other children. The teacher suggests that each of the boys be exposed more to the opposite sex over the summer.
When Tucker learns what the teacher said to Garnet, he suggests that they trade boys a few days a week over the summer. Garnet’s son could help him at the retreat, and be exposed to more athletic, manly endeavors, while his son could spend time with Garnet at the spice shop. Neither of the boys is excited about the notion, but make do, in some pretty amusing ways.
Over the course of the summer the four spend a lot of time together. We gradually learn more about Tucker and Garnet, and learn that despite their strong differences, they also have a lot in common. They’re good, loving people trying to do right for their children. They’re not living exciting, over-the-top lives. Each is the odd man out in their family. In a family of doctors and scientists, Tucker is the lone academic underachiever. The name of Garnet’s shop — Plain Vanilla — comes from her belief that she’s not a princess, not a southern belle like the rest of the women in her family. She’s just plain vanilla.
If you don’t like children in romances this isn’t the book for you. Will and Petie are the initial reason Garnet and Tucker spend time together and are featured in numerous scenes. I don’t mind children in romances, and find Will and Petie to be unique, interesting characters. I also think the way Tucker and Garnet handle their relationship is realistic, given that they’re the parents of young boys. The question for Tucker and Garnet becomes not just can two different people fall in love, but can two people who are very different, and have very different sons not only fall in love, but actually build a life together?
If you’re looking for a lot of excitement and plot twists in your romances this won’t work for you. But if you like vivid, interesting characters, this might just suit as the focus is clearly on the characters. I like both Tucker and Garnet, like their children, and found this a fast, enjoyable read.