Book Reviews

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Anne Blythe is thirty-three, funny, smart and beautiful, has a good career as a writer, and even a two-book publishing deal in the works. Career wise, she is exactly where she wants to be, doing what she has always wanted to do.

If only she can say the same about her romantic life.

Despite her smarts and her looks, Anne has only been with the wrong kind of men. Nope, not the axe murderer/serial killer/married-with-children kind of wrong, but the emotionally-unavailable/ men-who-cannot-commit/sleeping-with-other-women kind of wrong.

Her most recent ex-boyfriend Stuart had been sleeping around, and it took her almost three years to finally snap out of her happily-ever-after haze, break up with him, and start a new life in a new apartment as a single woman. It’s enough to make her swear off dating for good, but as much as Anne hates having her heart broken and her ego beaten, she also believes that there’s this one special person out there who’s meant to be with her.

In a rather serendipitous moment, Anne finds a business card on the street bearing the words “Blythe & Company, Arrangements Made”. Something about seeing her surname on the card gives her a thrill, like the universe is trying to tell her something.

So she gives Blythe & Company a call and books an appointment, just for kicks. What she initially thought was a dating service turns out to be an exclusive and highly confidential ‘arranged marriage service’, boasting a 95% success rate, with clients referred by previous clients who have nothing but good words about the company and what they do.

Every bone in her body finds the whole idea of an arranged marriage preposterous, unnatural… and so not her. But despite reason and logic, and the hefty amount of $10,000, Anne Blythe finds herself signing up for the program.

A $10,000 program that will find her the perfect man to be her husband in no less than six months.

What got me to read this book is exactly the same reason why our lovely little heroine called up Blythe & Company : it completely piqued my curiosity. It’s impressive the way this fictitous ‘arranged marriage service’ operates in the book. It totally made sense, from their standard operating procedures, psychological testing and evaluation, to the regular therapy sessions. I almost wish they were a real company!

Anne Blythe started out as a weak, superficial and annoying character, but don’t dismiss her too quickly. There’s a lot in store for her in this book that will prove her mettle. She’s funny, clumsy, irrational but strong, and you can’t help but root for her and wish for her happy ending as you would your best friend. I shared her excitement when she received the news that they have found a match for her, and I shared her panic when it was time to finally meet her future husband. The twist in this book was quite unexpected, which is a really positive and great thing, because it made me NOT want to put the book down at all.



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