The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli

Thursday, January 17, 2019


by Sonya Lalli
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Adult
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Publication Date: January 22nd 2018
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★1/2
Kiss Factor: ✷✷

Any time I hear about a brown romance author coming up with a new romance read, I am more than excited. As a brown woman, the feelings that I get seeing someone like myself being represented in a book with a happily ever after are just magical. I have been excited for The Matchmaker's List for precisely that reason since early last year. I wanted so much out of this book and ultimately, these expectations wound up being crushed.

A big part of why this book didn't click for me was my expectations. I went into The Matchmaker's List thinking that it was going to be a romantic comedy of sort. I would hardly categorize this book as such having now read it. It was actually angstier and a little bit darker than I was expecting it to be. Right off the bat, I was thrown off by this. Regardless, I decided to pause my reading for a bit and came back to it with a fresh perspective. Still though, there was just something preventing me from completely enjoying the story. I soon found out that it was the main character, Raina. I wanted to love Raina, but she wasn't my type of heroine. I understood her struggles and why she felt so much pressure from her Nani, her grandmother, wanting her to urgently get married. She often made questionable decisions and I found it hard to connect with her. Becky described her as a hot mess and I think that's a perfect description of Raina. I don't mind reading about hot-mess heroines, but I found that Raina took things too far. [Spoiler: Highlight to read] I absolutely hated that she pretended to be gay to get her Nani off her back. It wasn't a white lie, and it affected and hurt so many people around her. Perhaps if we had seen her working towards fixing this lie sooner I would have grown to care for her, but she dragged it and I thought she got off really easily at the end.

The whole matchmaking process and romances were also emotionally draining for me. I think that was the whole point with the matchmaking process at least, but I don't quite think the author intended for the romances to come across as tedious. So we know that Raina is hung up on this guy that she met and fell in love with while she was in London years ago. She goes on these dates with the guys that her grandmother suggests, but she is undeniably still in love with Dev. When Dev comes back into the picture things get really complicated for Raina. I think I'm going to sound like a broken record but Raina's romantic drama was just too much for me. I didn't like or care for any of the guys that were introduced, mostly because they were one-dimensional and there were so many of them that there was hardly enough time to get to know them. I genuinely disliked Dev as a person and couldn't see what Raina ever even saw in him. When she finally "picked" a guy at the end of the book, I was surprised by how quickly declarations of love came to be. I was honestly even surprised that the person was even a contender. I didn't dislike everything about The Matchmaker's List. There were some elements I really enjoyed - I thought the discussions of culture, dating, and arranged marriage were thought-provoking. I also adored Raina's Nani, who obviously deeply cared for her granddaughter, but wanted the best for her future. Lalli's writing is also strong, which is why I read the book to completion.

My advice to readers going into The Matchmaker's List is to go into it not expecting a contemporary romance,  but more of a women's fiction read. I am sad that this didn't work for me, but I do hope that it works for other readers.

What are some books you were hoping to love but didn't?
Let me know in the comments below!

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