Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.
After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company's success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn't it work for her?
A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.
My thoughts: For some reason Catherine McKenzie needs to be my best friend. Supposing she is vaguely like the protagonists she writes, I am quite certain she and I would have a wonderful time together. I'm pretty sure I'd have to keep running to the bathroom because she makes me laugh so hard. Because I get it. I really do.
My copy of Arranged is an ARC so I am not allowed to quote it. But if I could, I might just quote a little ditty from when Anne is feeling sorry for herself and finds herself drinking too much at her brother's house and singing a Gloria Gaynor song inside her head for which she knows most of the words although not all (da-dum, yeah, that's right, and then some other part, and then the good part, so go, go, go, walk through my door, and don't turn around, no, I won't welcome you here anymore... I'm going to survive!)
"Anne, what are you doing?"
I stop mid-twirl. "Dancing to a song in my head."
Gil takes the glass from my hand. "Definitely enough wine for you."
What McKenzie artistically accomplishes is a protagonist I know and dialogue that quickly summarizes relationships. Gil is Anne's older brother. He is diabolical. But he loves his sister. Jack is Anne's arranged husband. He is Jack. You get Jack. Sarah is Anne's best friend. She's a lawyer who will fight to the death if she thinks Anne is in danger. It's clever dialogue with witty comebacks.
The twist - I didn't see it coming. I loved it.
Expect a lot of drinking. Expect a lot of swearing. Expect a lot of laughing. If Catherine and I become best friends and she is like her protagonists, I'll be the angel/devil on her shoulder telling her to scale back her alcoholic intake and sending her to the bathroom to wash her mouth out with soap.
She may not want to be my friend. Except I twirl around in my kitchen to songs in my head so she might.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.