The Matchmaker's Match
The Matchmaker’s Match is an engaging story and just enough different from the average Regency to linger in my mind. The heroine, Lady Amelia Baxley, craves independence. Not in the “I’m never going to marry, but just toss my curls and be rebellious forever!” sense, but more in the sense of deciding she would rather carve out her own little corner in the world than move in with relatives and live a life dependent upon others as many conventional spinsters would. Amelia had a chance at the Marriage Mart and would have taken a good match, but having received no offers, must come up with a Plan B.
The problem? Her Plan B pretty much gives her sister-in-law the vapors and scandalizes her brother. Amelia lives on her own in a home provided by her brother, and she supplements her small income with a discreet matchmaking business whereby she chaperones young debutantes and assists them in finding suitable matches. Somehow word has filtered back to Brother Dearest, and he is threatening to force her to move into his home.
Amelia is most definitely not on board with her brother’s plan and she resents his edicts. However, she has another pressing problem. Her brother’s friend, Spencer, Lord Ashwhite, needs to marry quickly. Under the terms of his father’s will, he will lose most of his estate if he does not marry within three months. Having ferreted out Amelia’s side business, he turns to her for help in finding a wife. There are just two problems with this – Amelia hasn’t worked with male clients and besides, she seems to be quite aware of the fact that Spencer has something of an unsavory reputation.
Spencer persists, Amelia’s situation grows more dire(and she finds herself more interested in Spencer than she planned to be), and eventually they join forces. We quickly see that Spencer is a changed man and this novel takes a more overtly religious tone than many inspy novels I’ve read as Spencer talks about his time away from London and how his Christian faith came to occupy a place of utmost importance for him. In many novels, such themes can often come across as preachy, but in this book, Spencer’s discussion of his life and beliefs is so heartfelt and he comes across as such a genuinely kind hero, that I found myself just listening to him as a character rather than rolling my eyes at any perceived preachiness. The author does a good job of conveying her religious themes without talking down to readers, and I liked that.
I also liked that the leads, especially Amelia, have real character arcs. Amelia is a self-possessed and very interesting woman at the beginning of this book, but she definitely grows up over the course of the story. As we see in how she relates to Spencer as well as in how she handles situations with her young matchmaking charge, she started the novel with a long way to go in terms of being able to see things through other people’s perspectives. She definitely takes some steps in the right direction by story’s end, though. Spencer’s changes of attitude throughout the book are more subtle, but still enjoyable. His big conversion happens before the plot action in this book, so we don’t get to see it, but somehow he still manages to come off as a man believably changed for the better.
Some of the plotting felt a bit thin to me in this book, particularly with regard to the relationship between Amelia and her brother and his wife. The brother is overbearing and his wife is irrationally hateful, but the resolution to this situation ends up being rather mystifying and abrupt at best. However, even with some wonkiness in the plot, this was more than anything a pleasant read. I’d give it a nice, comfortable B.