I was really excited to read Brittany Larsen's new novel, The Matchmaker's Match. It's a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Emma and it was a fun read.
Eliza Woodhouse runs her own flower shop, but she's really a trust fund baby who doesn't need to work. Her dad bankrolls her "hobby" until she turns twenty-five and has access to her trust fund. But in the meantime, Eliza spends her time making flower arrangements and helping people, especially match-making for the ones she loves. Her sister is marrying someone Eliza set her up with and so is her best friend, so Eliza feels like a success as a matchmaker. Riding the wave of success, she tries to help out the romantic prospects for her new employee---a single mom who is struggling. And right in the middle of all of that, her old friend Parker Knightley comes back into her life. He's always been like an honorary brother to her, but now that he's back, she might want him to be more than a friend. That becomes difficult, however, with everything else going on with her "matchmaking" and their relationship is put to the test.
I really loved the beach town setting of the book and the flower shop. It was easy to visualize each setting and wish I was there! Eliza's relationship with her dad is endearing and sweet and that is where Eliza's true personality seems to shine. When it comes to her other relationships, however, she comes across as really naive and unaware of how hurtful her words and actions can be. She does have a great growth arc, though, and readers will relate (and even cheer!) for the decisions she makes in the end. Parker also has a nicely placed growth arc with his bossy exterior and a hidden heart of gold. He is a patient, sweet hero and it is easy to root for him to get his happily ever after. The supporting characters round out a really nice cast, adding a layer of depth to the story. As a Jane Austen fan, it was sort of nice to know how it was all going to turn out in the end, but at the same time, I was turning pages to see just exactly how Ms. Larsen was going to put her own spin on it. A cute, romantic read.
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Here's the back copy:
Eliza Woodhouse has everything a girl could want: a delightful little beachside flower shop, a loving family, and the best friend a girl could ask for. And while she suffers a chronic lack of romance in her own life, the bohemian beauty is a self-proclaimed matchmaker extraordinaire, as evidenced by her recent successes. Having found a fiancé for her sister and a boyfriend for her best friend, she is now taking her lovelorn new employee under her wing. Yes, life is working out quite nicely for Eliza. Until Parker Knightley walks back into her life. After three years in Hong Kong, Parker is in town for his brother’s upcoming wedding to Eliza’s sister. They’ve all known each other their whole lives, and Eliza will never be anything but Little Liza Belle to her handsome childhood tormenter. So the fact that their siblings are getting married simply puts Parker one step closer to becoming the big brother he and Eliza have always joked about him being. But the more time they spend together, the more confused Eliza’s feelings become. Because she has come to the shocking realization that the role of brother is the last role she wants Parker to play in her life . . .
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