Desert Isle Keeper
The Soulmate Equation
So if a DNA-based matchmaking company promised to match you with your dream partner based on your DNA, would you do it? No more left and right swipes, no more guessing and hoping for the best. In The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, Jessica Davis decides to give it a try and ends up with a nearly unheard of perfect match – but the match shocks her. She already knows Dr. River Peña, and she’s not a fan.
Jess, the single mom of seven-year-old Juno, has dabbled in the dating scene since Juno’s birth but has been underwhelmed with the results. She’s a self-employed statistician making ends meet – but barely. Her grandparents (who raised her when her mom bailed out of parenthood) are helping to raise Juno as well, and Jess is surrounded by love (including her romance-writing best friend Fizzy) – the only thing missing in her life is romantic love.
River is also a scientist and is part owner/inventor of GeneticAlly – a genetics-based matchmaking site that is about to launch. He frequents the same coffee shop (Twiggs) that Jess and Fizzy use as offices every day, at the same time, ordering the same drink. He’s hot but oh so cold! When Jess and Fizzy ask him about his business, he is standoffish until he realizes that Fizzy is a successful romance writer with a huge following. He invites Fizzy and Jess to come and take the GeneticAlly test for free and see what happens.
When Jess and River’s tests come back with a near perfect match – the highest seen to date – both are shocked. But River’s co-owners are thrilled. What a great opportunity for amazing publicity with their own founder finding love through GeneticAlly! Jess is approached by GeneticAlly to use her and River’s match to help launch their site – some photo shoots, some interviews, being seen together for a few months. She wants to say “no” but her biggest client has just fired her and she could really use the money they are offering to pay her – $10,000/month for three months. Jess is not in a position to refuse (and a part, a very small part, wonders…what if?).
This book is such fun! Jess really doesn’t like River – she’s turned off by what she sees as an aloofness, but she’s a realist and she knows the gig is her best way to keep making ends meet and maybe save a little. So when Jess decides to do it, she goes all in. She’s going to pretend to be part of a budding couple and give it a real shot. River goes all in as well. He is intrigued by Jess, even though they seem so vastly different. The authors don’t waste our time with a hero and heroine dragging and protesting until halfway through the book; they give us an almost real couple early on and let them figure it out!
Both Jess and River are very likeable people. Jess is an optimistic pragmatist (hard to find!), a terrific mom, and a stellar granddaughter, someone you’d love to have as a neighbor or friend. River is much deeper and more relatable than Jess originally thinks. He is so kind and aware of her needs and desires; he taps into what is best for her early on and adjusts his life around hers. When the romance roadblock arises in the story, River falters for a bit but then comes through with full marks. I was cheering for them both from the start!
The supporting cast is also well done, especially Fizzy, Jess’s best friend. Fizzy is a romance writer who is constantly pulling stories from her interactions with others and who never goes anywhere without her notebook. Fizzy made me snort on many occasions!
He looked at his watch. “All right, well…catch you later.” With a final amused pursed-lips smile, he turned to leave Twiggs with his Americano in hand. Stride, stride, stride. The bell over the door cried when he left.
Fizzy stared after him. “What just happened?”
“He bought us coffee.” Jess was extremely casual. Not at all unsettled. “Calm down, Fizz.”
Meanwhile her brain was shouting in all caps.
“My vagina just unfurled like a flower,” Fizzy said, still staring at the door.
“A fucking flower, Jess.”
Jess cupped her forehead in her hands. It was going to be a long day.
I also enjoyed Jess’s extended family and neighborhood friends, and the ensemble the authors have crafted is impressive. My only quibble is that Jess’s daughter Juno reads much older than her seven years. This seems to be a common issue these days. Authors, it’s okay to have a seven-year-old act like a seven-year-old!
Minor quibble aside, The Soulmate Equation is a happy, funny read and a pleasure to recommend.