What do you think; do you think an arranged marriage that finds you the perfect mate is a better road to a successful relationship or are you still a sucker for love? That’s really the main focus of Catherine McKenzie’s novel Arranged and it’s quite simply a fantastic read! I read her first novel Spin (my review) a few years ago and I couldn’t rave enough about that one and Arranged was no different for me. Catherine has become a favorite author of mine and it doesn’t hurt that she’s a fellow Canadian as well!
Anne Blythe – oh yes, you read that right. If you’re a fan of Anne of Green Gables you will recognize those names. It turns out that Anne’s mother is an absolute fanatic over anything Green Gables thus Anne’s name and her brother’s which is Gilbert. However that is the least of Anne’s problems. She has just walked out on her latest relationship and she’s devastated. Why does she keep picking the wrong men when all she really wants is to be loved, get married, and have kids? When her best friend Sarah announces she’s getting married Anne has had enough. Where is that card she found on the street that day? The one from the dating service? And should she call them?
After giving it some serious thought she decides to call only to find out it’s not a dating service; it’s actually an agency that arranges a marriage for you with your perfect mate which is gleaned from several testing procedures and a psychiatrist. Let’s not forget it’s pretty pricey too but what has she got to lose? She obviously can’t find that perfect man on her own so she signs up. After passing the tests she’s sent on a vacation to Mexico to meet her chosen mate and the plan is to be married before going home. As you have likely guessed she has mentioned none of this to her best friend Sarah, her brother or her parents because none of them would approve and they’d try to talk her out of it.
Fast forward to Mexico where she meets Jack. He’s not bad looking at all even though he’s not at all the type of man she normally goes for. Anne’s type is tall, dark, and with blue eyes and well Jack is the opposite. Yet isn’t that why she’s here – because she does keep picking the wrong men? Maybe doing the opposite of what she’s always done will get her the life she wants in the end. Anne decides to throw caution to the wind and marry Jack. Will it turn out to be the best thing she’s ever done or will she just end up hurt and devastated once again?
Anne is a great character. She’s just looking for what everyone is looking for; what her friends and her brother have. She believes in love and happily ever after; she just can’t seem to find it. She makes herself so vulnerable in this story and you can’t help but feel for her. My life has been full of wrong choices when it comes to men so I really felt a connection with her there. While Anne was my favorite I really liked all the characters in the book. Sarah, her best friend, was great too. She’d go to any length for Anne and some of them made me laugh. They had known each other since grade school and had that once in a lifetime friendship that we all want.
The novel really makes you question which is better – a service that matches to you that perfect person or the one you pick for yourself? Is it better to start out as friends or have that absolute passion where you just jump in head first? As is said in the book when you dive in head first, sooner or later that passion dies and what are you left with. Some people manage to hold on to that passion but a lot don’t and if you never really had a friendship then I do think you are doomed to not be as happy as you could be. Ultimately I think it’s so important to be friends with your mate – not the same as your best girlfriend of course, but still friends. This would make such a great pick for your bookclub. I don’t think there would be a shortage of chatting material between talking about friendship, marriage, and the arranged marriage aspect.
Arranged comes highly recommended by me. I love Catherine’s writing style and the stories she tells. She always draws me completely into her stories and makes me care for the people she has brought alive in the pages of her book. I can’t wait to read her next one called Forgotten!
I read Arranged by Catherine McKenzie for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. Be sure to pop by the other tour stops to see what everyone else thought of the book. You can find Catherine on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Arranged can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours via the Publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.