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Review: Matchmakers 2.0 by Debora Geary

Dear Ms. Geary,

I’ll be really, really honest – the entire reason I read this was simply because of all the reviews you have on Amazon. I picked up Matchmakers 2.0 when it was free several weeks ago, but I haven’t really had any inclination to read it. Then I was browsing Amazon and noticed the sheer quantity of reviews. This book, for example, has 141 reviews, almost all of them positive. My skeptical eyebrow went up. Either this was a really good deal to be found, or someone had a lot of friends who liked to use Amazon.

Matchmakers 2.0 by Debora GearyYour novella is packaged attractively – the Novel Nibbles logo is cute and catchy, and lets the reader know that this is a shorter tale. The formatting is nice, the cover is quirky enough to be eye-catching, and I didn’t notice grammatical errors. We’re heading in the right direction.

Matchmakers 2.0 is the story of Mick, who works at…you guessed it, Matchmakers. She works with a team of matchmakers that pair up hard to match clients, and they work in a big corporate environment, tweaking profiles to ensure the customers are satisfied. There is a competition every six months called Match the Loser, where clients that haven’t been successful in finding a date are offered as a challenge, and a bonus incentive offered to the winning employee. Mick lost the last Match the Loser contest, and a friend dared her to enter her own profile into Matchmakers and see what comes out of it.

I had real problems with this setup. Matchmakers is a company of 100 or so people and there are jabs at corporate America left and right. However, Mick puts her profile up on the Matchmakers website and then everyone in the office knows about it. Once again, my skeptical eyebrow went up that an employee is allowed to use the service for their own means. Further, the Match the Loser contest seemed cruel. People that couldn’t get dates through the agency were referred to as losers? I didn’t care for that, or the attitudes of the match team. In addition, the set up of the agency itself seemed questionable. For example:

“Moved to California from South Carolina last year. I’ll set his ‘bubba’ flag.” Not every guy in the south is a bubba, but enough of them are to give MatchMakers real headaches.

Not enough women in the South want bubbas anymore. In Los Angeles, Bobby Joe’s chances were slim. Someone needed to tell the man to move back home.

Profiling, even as minor as this, strikes me as crass and unfunny. But perhaps I am sensitive to such things. This agency also supposedly has flags for clients that are ‘lothario’ types, ‘kinky’ warnings, and ‘liar’ flags, in addition to who knows what else.  This is presented as humorous in the story, except I didn’t find it funny in context. Rather, I questioned the logistics of such flags, and at the employees choosing the designations. This sets itself up for all kinds of abuse.

The writing style in this was intriguing, however. You have an extremely spare writing style, with no fluff and very few adjectives. At first, I found this dry style difficult to follow, but you gentle it with some clever lines. For example:

A couple sat at a table to my left. Definitely their first date. The woman, co-ed cute, flipped her hair a lot and made sure her left side was toward the guy at all times. Guppies do this, too – not the hair thing, but the showing off their best side thing. I know, it’s very weird to watch people on a date and compare them to fish. I can’t help myself. If people wouldn’t behave so much like fish, it would be easier to stop.

Of course, there are some differences. Guppy parents often eat their babies.

And

My musical tastes run the direction of the Indigo Girls and Dixie Chicks. Chris’s band was most definitely not the Chicks. It had a bit more of the bash-your-head-inside-a-garbage-can type of vibe going on.

I found the heroine, Mick, likeable but not all that believable. A lot of the time she’s very uptight, and her hobbies reminded me more of someone older than her age of 27. I did like that the hero – who she didn’t care for upon first impression – was an erotica writer and was not painted to be a deviant or a freak. He just happened to like writing erotica. This made me happy, as it’s so easy for some people to automatically paint romance authors as rampaging whore-monsters in constant need of cock. That it was a man that was the erotica writer, and a very un-creepy, normal man? Impressed me.

The romance in this story is surface only – it’s more chick lit. Any hints of anything beyond kissing are only coyly referred to.

I’m a little torn at what to give this. I found your voice jarring at first, but it took some getting used to and I enjoyed it at the end. The relationship was cute, but the parts of the story around Matchmakers were straining credulity. I was leaning toward a B- before writing this review, but after recapping some of the things that bothered me, I might move it down to C+. Cute enough, but has some issues. I might give your Witch books a try, however.

All best,

January

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January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

10 Comments

  1. Janine
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 13:05:02

    Further, the Match the Loser contest seemed cruel. People that couldn’t get dates through the agency were referred to as losers?

    This would bother me a lot, and make it hard to suspend disbelief too. Unless they did it without the client knowing, in which case it’s more believable, but still wrong.

  2. Debora Geary
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 13:30:38

    Dear January: Reviews are for the readers, and I appreciate you offering your thoughts.

    I do, however, feel a need to respond to this: “Either this was a really good deal to be found, or someone had a lot of friends who liked to use Amazon.” I hope you concluded the former. I don’t have nearly that many friends :).

  3. DA_January
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 16:46:58

    @Debora Geary
    I have to admit that I am always prejudiced when I see so many glowing reviews. As I said, my skeptical eyebrow goes up. However after reading the book, no, I do not think it was a cattle-call amongst friends to review your book up. It was enjoyable and I liked your voice (even if the plot was problematic). I originally ended the post with my speculation conclusion – that you had heavily promoted the book by setting it free, it was a good story, and you asked readers at the end of the book to lend (which I liked) and review if they liked it, and many people liked it. But I am a heavy reviser, and I ended up deleting this last tidbit as I felt it would have come across as backhanded. And while I’m tough in reviews – I very much admit that fact – I didn’t feel it was necessary to point that out and cast aspersions. As I said in the review, I liked your voice enough to seek out your other works.

  4. Mary Anne Graham
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 16:52:32

    Oh No, She Didn’t.

    I clicked this one b/c as an indie romance author (that’s my term of choice), I wanted to see how Ms. Geary’s work would be treated. Frankly, after I started reading the review I became way too peeved at Ms. Geary’s stereotyping to have any concern about how she was treated here.

    I see that Ms. Geary is from Eugene, Oregon. We “bubbas” from South Carolina might have a thing or two to say about people from Oregon. Lots of folks have created colorful stereotypes about people from California. I won’t say those things because I hate labels, I’m Southern and I’m way too polite. I’ll just borrow a local phrase and say “bless her heart.”

    The hardest thing to believe about this part of the story set-up is that Bobby Joe would ever move from South Carolina to California.We have another saying in the South – “American by birth and Southern by the grace of God.”

    As a proud South Carolinian who feels that our state is a grand place to live, I take issue with the author’s use of labels to denigrate a fine state filled with amazing people.

  5. Debora Geary
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 17:07:26

    January, you’re always welcome to be tough on me :). I just wanted to stand up in defense of my readers. They’re wonderful, and I appreciate every last one of them for giving my work a try.

    Mary Anne, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the book. I will say that I’m not from Oregon – that’s a recent move. I met my husband (from Georgia) while living in North Carolina. I know that’s not far enough South to count for some folks :).

  6. Mary Anne Graham
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 18:31:18

    @Debora Geary

    I haven’t read your book. It might be absolutely astonishingly fantabulous. I just take exception to referencing “bubbas” from South Carolina.

    If you’re a native North Carolinian, then I’m sure you know that the South has long been victimized by stereotypes. It would have been more fun if you turned it around – ie; “He just moved here from South Carolina. We can’t match him. Everybody knows that Southerners are just too much man for any California girl to handle”… That wouldn’t offend South Carolinians and might just make California girls smile.

    .

  7. Christine M.
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 20:41:30

    I worked for a almost a year for a matching service oversea and I must say that you wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen in my day. And that includes creating fake profiles and flagging ‘difficult’ profiles. I guess I wouldn’t have as many issues with that aspect of the book. I’ll go have a look at it.

  8. Debora Geary
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 20:47:14

    @Mary Anne: Exception noted, and feedback always appreciated.

    I tried to write a story that told, in part, how working in a soulless corporate culture could cause people to start making fairly sweeping generalizations about their fellow human beings. The character setting the “bubba” flag in my book is Southern. Part of her journey is to get around her preconceptions (like assuming anyone who writes erotica might be fairly ick).

    So it was a conscious bit of characterization, and one I stand by. It didn’t work for January, and yes, that matters to me, too. Knowing where books “missed” for some of my readers helps to improve my future writing.

    I hope that a book full of characters from North Carolina is a nice contribution to dispelling stereotypes. If you ever read Matchmakers, drop me an email and let me know how I did :).

    @January: It’s been an interesting day. Thank you! And if you get to my witches, I hope you find them to your liking.

  9. DS
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 21:07:15

    Going to try this one. From the review and Ms Geary’s responses I think I might like it — warts and all.

  10. SAO
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 23:56:28

    When I worked in a bank, we had a wing-wong of the week contest, where we voted for the stupidest, weirdest, or rudest customer. Customers in the running for wing-wong of the year were not eligible for the wing-wong of the week contest.

    The branch manager said she’d have sent the wing-wong of the year contest winners a nice certificate, because we really didn’t need a customer who won wing-wong of the year, except she suspected the bank would fire her if she did it.

    So, I get calling people loser of the week.

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