After a string of bad relationships, Anne Blythe signs up at what she thinks is a dating service, but actually turns out to be a company that facilitates arranged marriages. She decides to go for it anyway, and in a few months, she travels to Mexico to meet her future husband Jack. Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged is an absolute pleasure to read. It’s fun, flirty and romantic — I spent a day off from work with this book, and just had a great time getting lost in Anne’s search for love, and in her growing relationship with Jack.
Think about all the awkward blind dates are — you’ve probably been on a few. Now imagine going on one and knowing that the man across the table from you is the man you will marry. It’s actually not that far-fetched a concept. McKenzie points out that arranged marriages have actually been the norm for centuries — romantic love is a fairly modern invention — and, in fact, some cultures still practice arranged marriages today.
To be honest, some of the tenets from the arranged marriage company in this book make a lot of sense to me. Not the part where a company chooses your spouse for you, but the company’s ideas on romance. A company psychologist tells Anne that many people have unrealistic expectations about romantic love and marriage. He also says that the type of marriages the company arranges are based on friendship, and his counselling sessions are designed to make the couples focus on cultivating that friendship rather than search for romance. True enough, I thought. I actually didn’t really see how the company’s methods were supposed to cultivate friendships other than matching couples up according to shared interests, but I did get their romance-squashing message, at least.
Anne, however, is very romantic, and fortunately for her, she and Jack hit it off almost immediately. The psychologist cautions them against falling in love so quickly — old patterns might resurface, and their relationship might fail like their previous ones had — but Anne finds herself genuinely falling for Jack. Anne’s a fantastic heroine — smart and far from love-sick, but still emotionally vulnerable. Jack is also a loveable hero — fun and adventurous, with a bit of a temper, but that will be explained later on in the book. Hint: Jack has his secrets.
Arranged is a fun, romantic read, perfect for a weekend afternoon or a long commute. The book’s cover asks, What’s love got to do with it? In Arranged: everything.
WIN A COPY OF ARRANGED!
I won this book from Harper Collins Canada, when I was randomly selected as one of their Facebook fans of the week. They have over 60,000 Facebook fans — what were the odds, eh? It was such a fantastic surprise, and a wonderful way to end a particularly hectic work week. Thank you for that, Harper Collins Canada!
Now, I’d like to pass on this bit of literary goodness, and give one of you a wonderful surprise this Friday. I’ve read Arranged, and loved it, and am now passing on my copy to one of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
So, how do you win? Along with the Facebook fans of the week, Harper Collins Canada does a lot of other great things to thank their readers and to generally involve their readers in literary fun. One of my favourites is their HCC March Madness tournament for books. More fun than basketball, but I, a lifelong bookworm, may be biased.
Since I got to read this book through the generosity of Harper Collins Canada, I figured it’s only fair to give a little something back and give a shout out to another of their fun book programs. So, to enter the draw for a copy of Arranged, all you have to do is cast a vote at hccmarchmadness.ca. Then, comment on this post to let me know. Just for fun, I’d also love to know which book you want to win HCC March Madness and why. Lots of really good books competing this year!
Need help deciding which book to vote for? If you’re a Catherine McKenzie fan, her book Spin is in the running. I’m a total Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot fan, so heads up on the fantastic Death on the Nile as well. I also have this post, with a few other suggestions, some of which I hope are still in the running.
BONUS: If you vote in all four brackets, you can enter a draw to win all 64 books in the tournament! Pretty cool, eh?
Contest ends this Friday, March 16th.