The Heroine: Anne Blythe, a journalist and aspiring author who suddenly finds herself single at thirty-three after discovering that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Lonely and longing for partnership and a family, Anne decides to take a chance on Blythe & Company, a dating service whose card she happened to pick up off the street. Only after meeting with the company does she discover that their true service is arranged marriages. In a bold move, Anne flys off to Mexico to marry Jack, a man she has never met until the day before their wedding. In the sand and surf paradise of Mexico, Anne discovers that her new husband may actually be her perfect match after all. Or is he? Arranged follows Anne's unconventional love story and her journey to self-discovery.
The Highs: Reading Arranged was really a breath of fresh air (if you'll excuse the cliche). This novel is completely original, unexpected and unique, three things you rarely find in romance – and I say that with affection, as a devoted lover of all things, well, love. Catherine McKenzie's unconventional take on a love story really pays off and thanks to her excellent plot and talent with words, I devoured this book in a single sitting.
The protagonist, Anne Blythe, is extremely lovable and relateable. While those girls who complain endlessly about the woes of the single life ("Why can't I find a man?") can get annoying fast, Anne walks the fine line between mopey and proactive with ease, taking control of her own destiny. While her judgement can be questionable, I admire her tenacity and her boldness. I was really rooting for her throughout the story and by the end, I felt as if she was a close friend.
The romance between Anne and Jack is the real highlight in this novel. Perfectly paced and realistically narrated, their scenes are sometimes sweet and sometimes sexy, but always interesting. Anne and Jack really do seem like a real life perfect match – neither of them are perfect, but they compliment each other well and help each other become better people.
Arranged is more than just a love story. It is a tale of a woman's search for self-discovery, self-acceptance and self-love. This book made me question a lot of things I'm not sure I really understand yet. Like what makes a good marriage? Is love or friendship more important? What kind of person do I want to spend my life with? As I am only just turning 20, I think it will be quite awhile before I ever discover the answers to these questions!
The Lows: One cliche in Arranged that has persisted, despite the unconventional plot, is the evil journalist that tricks the members of the opposite sex into liking them so they can write about it. Remember Matthew Maconahey from How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days? Remember Eva Mendes from Hitch? Yeah, well, you'll find one of them in this book, too. As a writer, I'm often attracted to other creative types...this long-standing cliche makes me wonder if I should worry guys are using me as content!
Final Thoughts: A love story with a twist, Arranged is perfect for anyone looking for a little romance in their lives.
Rating: Arranged earns eight margaritas out of ten.
Buy 'Arranged' on the Book Depository here
Connect with author Catherine McKenzie here
Photo from here