Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: Arranged

Summary: Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, close friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share her life with, however, she just can't seem to get it right. When her latest relationship implodes, and her best friend announces she's engaged, Anne impulsively calls what she thinks is a dating service—only to discover that it's actually an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. Anne initially rejects the idea, but the more she learns about the service, the more she thinks: Why not? After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world; maybe it could work for her.

A few months later, Anne is traveling to a Mexican resort, where, over the course of a weekend, she meets and then marries Jack. And initially, everything seems to be working out. . . . -- William Morrow

When the weather starts getting warmer, I find that I turn to some lighter reads -- some mom lit or chick lit, if you will. Since I had heard some good things about Catherine McKenzie's novels, I decided to try her latest ARRANGED.

ARRANGED tells the story of Anne a woman who seemingly has it all... except for the perfect guy. When Anne's latest relationship ends, Anne just happens to stumble upon a business card advertising what sounds like a dating service. She decides to call and discovers that it's not just any old dating service. Rather, it's a company that claims to successfully arrange marriages. Anne decides to give it a try since she's not having much luck on her own. When she finally meets her potential spouse Jack at a Mexican resort and marries him just a day later, she believes her life is complete; however, she quickly learns that things (and by that, I mean Jack) might not be what they initially seem.

I have seem some mixed reviews for ARRANGED around the blogosphere, but I have to say that I enjoyed this book. I probably wouldn't go so far as to say that I loved it, but I did think it was entertaining and a fun way to spend a few hours. I have to admit that I was initially drawn to the premise of this novel. For whatever reason, I've always been intrigued by the concept of arranged marriages; and I did think it was interesting how the book explored this topic. The book offered a unique look at the concepts of dating and marriage, and for that, I really appreciated how it approached these traditional relationships. It also gave me a thing or two to think about as far as how arranged marriages work in other cultures.

However, I will say that I did find the book (and especially the ending) to be kind of predictable despite the few twists. Having said that, I knew up front that this book was on the lighter side, so I wasn't disappointed when some of my ideas about the characters ended up coming to fruition. When I read fun stories about love and relationships, I guess I'm just a sucker for happy endings. Without giving too much away, let's just say I was okay with how things worked out for Anne.

Anne was a very sweet character and I do think she's one of the main reasons I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. Despite being successful in her friendships and her career, she still was kind of a mess as far as boyfriends go. I liked how the author contrasted the strengths and weaknesses of her character, and I especially appreciated how she was able to laugh at herself. I think many women will be able to relate to Anne -- either personally or because she will remind them of someone they know.

If I'm being entirely honest, I thought ARRANGED read like a movie. I don't mean that in a negative way at all. In fact, I often times like that in a story. I do think Ms. McKenzie did a great job of bringing the settings and the characters to life; and as a result, I could vividly "see" almost every scene in the novel. The characters, namely Anne and Jack, were especially alive in my mind; and I did think the author did a very good job creating the chemistry between them.

ARRANGED was a cute read and should appeal to fans of chick lit. I recommend it as a great addition to your beach or pool bag!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Wow, it would be one thing to have your parents arrange your marriage - having a dating service do it puts a whole different spin on things. The book intrigues me.

Alyce said...

This does sound like a fun read! Like the perfect story for the beach or an airplane ride. :)

toothybooks said...

i enjoyed reading this book too and i definitely agree with some of the points you brought up. i think the more i read the more i actually enjoyed it. and anne did turn out to be a pretty great character!