Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…
As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a good cover. And, friends, The Matchmaker’s List has a GREAT one. Contemporary romance seems tailor-made for illustrated covers and this one is no exception – before I even knew what the book was about I was intrigued.
Raina Anand has just turned 29 and is in dire need of a husband. Not that Raina feels that way, but her beloved Nani and the rest of their community can’t comprehend the thought of a woman still unwed and coming up on 30. Personally Raina’s holding out for Dev – the one who got away (and completely crushed her heart while he was at it, thank you very much) – but she loves her Nani something fierce and agrees to go on a few dates.
With each date it’s clear Raina is no closer to finding a husband. As the bad dates get even worse, and the community aunties sound the alarm, Raina tells a little lie. Just one tiny lie, hoping it will be enough to give her a moment to breathe, not realizing her problems have only just begun.
I wanted so badly to enjoy this one. For the most part, The Matchmaker’s List isn’t a bad read, it was light-hearted and easy enough that I read it during one snowy afternoon. Unfortunately, if it hadn’t been for that snowy afternoon that kept me cooped up inside, I doubt I would have finished in one sitting.
Simply put, The Matchmaker’s List bored me. Even as I type this, my mind is wandering. Thoughts keep cropping up: dinner, work tomorrow, the stack of books piled next to me – would my time have been better spent with one of them instead? Raina listens to her co-worker’s woes, Raina listens to her bestie’s wedding woes, Raina goes on dates and complains about the men (though she does have a point, they’re all awful, even her much pined-after Dev as well as the man she eventually ends up with).
But what really took me out of the story was Raina’s lie. In order to have Nani take a step back with her list of eligible men, Raina decides to go along with the assumption that she’s gay. There’s a scene where her younger cousin comes out to her because she was so brave and courageous for coming out herself in their Indian community. There aren’t any consequences of Raina’s actions until the very end and the majority of the characters – included a gay co-worker – just accept her story without any repercussions. I felt sorry for her grandmother, believing Raina to be gay, Nani went out of her way to research Canada’s laws regarding gay marriage and adoption and on more than one occasion stood up for her granddaughter even when it meant ostracizing herself from their tight-knit community.
There were other baffling moments in the book, like the constant flashbacks. Some were just a few years in the past (at the beginning of Raina and Dev’s relationship) while others were during Raina’s childhood. These were clearly meant to garner sympathy for Raina – for both her heartbreak and her absent mother – but I honestly didn’t care. By then I was reading just to get to the end and be done with the book.
The Matchmaker’s List had the potential to be a really fun romcom. Unfortunately, a poorly-handled rumor and horrifically unlikable characters made this one a chore to read. There was nothing romantic nor comedic about this book – Raina’s lie was appalling, the men were awful, even the guy she’s been in love with for years came across as a scumbag. Sadly, this was not the book for me.