I’ll admit it. I chose to review Miss Match based on the cover. The art has a comic book style that seemed fun, breezy, and contemporary. Unfortunately, while the book is contemporary, it isn’t exactly fun or breezy. It has the potential to be both, but a number of flaws bog it down.
Kathryn “Kitty” Lamb is a drama teacher in a private school in NYC. She has a good life and enjoys her career, but at thirty-five, she’s starting to feel like she wants to settle down a little, perhaps start a family. After a harangue from a neighbor, she decides to pay the dating service, Six in the City, to find Mr. Right for her. The only problem? Six in the City’s temporary manager, Walker Hart, is dishier than any of her potential mates.
Walker “Bear” Hart gets an eyeful of Kitty, and he’s immediately interested. The trouble is, Kitty’s obviously looking for a husband, and Walker’s got a severe problem with the institution of matrimony. He’s rich and successful, and he sees no need to make a permanent commitment to anyone. But will he be able to find Mr. Right for Kitty or will he try to persuade her to settle for Mr. Right Now?
The plot of this story is similar to Jennifer Crusie’s Manhunting, but it’s not nearly as fun, mostly because the humor falls flat. Kitty and Bear crack jokes at each other constantly, but their humor is all sit-com quality. I kept expecting to hear the laugh track in the background. And because Carroll tries so hard to portray both of them as witty, their speech sounds stilted unnatural and not at all funny. They also tend to quote from plays and musicals, slipping un-referenced lines into conversation with ease. Almost all of these went over my head. I had no idea what they were referring to.
Kitty and Walker are constantly together and how Carroll makes this happen seems fairly contrived. New York City experiences torrential rains causing Walker’s roof to leak. So naturally, his first idea is to move in with Kitty whom he barely knows. Both of them think it’s perfectly natural for this gazillionaire to bunk with a woman he has just met before, say, getting a hotel room. Also, for a man who’s on the cutting edge of the financial market, Walker seems to have a good deal of free time. He’s always available to help Kitty out when she needs him.
Kitty herself is a little hard to warm up to, mostly because she has such a high smack quotient. She has terrible luck on the dates Walker sets up for her, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for her as she makes so little effort to figure out what sort of men she’s going out with. She also has a very laissez-faire attitude toward sex. She seems to think of it as having no more importance or distinction than a backrub would, and she’s pretty willing to be rubbed by just about anyone. What’s so surprising then, is her willingness to harshly judge Walker and others as promiscuous when she’s indulging in the same types of behavior herself.
Finally, there’s the name-dropping and constant product placement. Kitty has a number of brushes with real-life celebrities and seems to have a fascination with brand. Clothes, perfume, cookies, champagne, tea, make-up, and pretty much anything is noted specifically by brand name. Most of this was entirely unnecessary. Does the reader care whether Kitty has a cup of tea or a cup of Darjeeling? Or whether she’s wearing leggings or Danskin leggings? No, not really. And does that fact that she actually knows Gwyneth Paltrow make her a more appealing heroine? Again, no.
Miss Match could have been good if it had just had a little bit more substance. Kitty and Walker have the potential to be likable, if they had been developed a little more. But Carroll sacrificed real interaction for unfunny repartee and crazy escapades. The book wasn’t difficult to read, it just became tedious after a while. And, as such, I cannot recommend it.