REVIEW: 13 Dates by Matt Dunn
When Noah Wilson first encounters the quirky, opinionated and very beautiful Angel Fallon, his world is turned upside down. It’s clear she’s not his normal type, but Noah can’t stop thinking about her—which doesn’t bode well for the blind date he’s already late for.
Convinced by his friend (and self-professed dating expert) Marlon that thirteen dates is all you need to fall in love, Noah decides to give it a try with Angel. They should be incompatible: she’s impulsive and he’s a planner; he wants to settle down and she doesn’t ‘do’ relationships—or anything, for that matter—the way Noah is used to. But there’s something about Angel, and Noah can’t shake the idea that all they need is twelve more dates.
Despite some near-disasters involving rock climbing, saddle sores and jellied eels, it seems his plan may actually work. But even if they do reach the magic number, can that really mean they’ll just fall into their happily-ever-after?
Dear Mr. Dunn,
I am conflicted about this novel. On the one hand it’s well written, fun and funny with a painfully, socially clumsy hero paired with a self assured, outgoing and enthusiastic heroine. After reading my share of klutzy heroines who fall over their shoes and uber smooth heroes, it’s a nice change. I actually like first person books so no problems there. But after finishing it, I’m left a bit dazed and unsure how so many issues get upended.
The meeting between Noah and Angel is cute, modern – as it happens in the queue at Starbucks – and the result of good friend Marlon trying to urge Noah on since he’s tired of listening to Noah whinge about his non-existent love life. Noah’s spectacular rudeness to his intended blind date gets excused by the fact that he falls head over heels in love with Angel and that his supposed-to-be date actually prefers the man who ends up chatting her up in place of Noah.
Angel finally throws Noah a dating bone after he blurts out how much time and effort – running two 5 Ks (and getting tangled up in a dog leash with an owner from hell) to try and find her again. I love Mary – Noah’s landlady who is just acerbic enough to avoid the tag of dottering old matchmaker. Her insights over the course of the book about true love and how it’s not much different than from her day plus her insistent urging to get Noah to go after Angel when he thinks all is lost, helps keep the romance going.
“Plan everything in advance” Noah admits to being a bit stunned by Angel’s dating rules of “everything a new experience” and that she’s not that interested in any long term relationship. But he gamely goes along and impresses her with the fact that he’s willing to try new things and sometimes look a little foolish in the bargain. The real reason behind her life choice takes a while to be revealed and gobsmacks Noah. Then Angel lays down her rules for continuing to see him and with no other choice, Noah agrees.
Then he starts arguing and marshaling his forces to try and change her mind. Okay, he’s falling in love and wants to have a future with her. I get that. But as Angel tells him, she’s had a long time to think about her life and her options. What she hasn’t ever done is fall in love and in the end, that along with Noah’s persistence change everything. Or so we’re told. Then a few more things get heaped on the platter before the book races for the end.
True love triumphs, there’s a HFN and hopeful future but it all comes very quickly for the number of life changing events which occur. Angel and Noah and their families are happy and I want to be happy for them but I’m just not totally convinced about it all in the end. B-