Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

arrangedPublisher: William Morrow/Harper Weekend
Release Date: December 28, 2010
Pages: 416 pages
Genre: Contemporary, Romance (Adult)
Source: e-book from library
Rating: ★★

“Everyone’s path to here is unique, Anne. It’s what you do from here that counts.”

In an age of multiple dating sites and apps, it’s not a stretch to consider a dating service. But what happens when that dating services turns out to be an arranged marriage service? Would you take the plunge or run?

I had never read about an arranged marriage before except in historical fiction, so when I saw this book on Goodreads, I knew I wanted to give this book a read. I’m a sucker for chick lit, and one about something I’ve never read before? Count me in.  Sadly, it let me down. I won’t say my expectations were extremely high – I was more curious than anything – but I thought I would at least enjoy the romance. Ultimately, it fell flat.

The plot here wasn’t the problem for me. I expected it to be fast paced. It’s about an arranged marriage, a chosen one at that, so I didn’t mind the speed of the book. I just didn’t connect to the characters or the romance. There were definitely parts of the book that I enjoyed: the beach setting in parts of the book was nice, and that should’ve been the perfect set-up for a romance, and Anne’s career scenes were probably my favorite. I loved that she was a writer and that she wasn’t as young as some other chick lit main characters. Plus, it’s easy to sympathize with her feeling like she’s never going to have what other people around her have, so I thought she made a fine main character. But I wanted to know more about her as an individual. Then there’s Jack. Oh, Jack. A lot of the male romantic interests in chick lit can be a bit bland, but Jack might have been the worst I’ve personally encountered. Again, we learn as much about Jack as we do about Anne, and he probably has more growth than she does, but he was a bit of a jerk at times and it was hard to like him as the book continued. Most of the other characters in the book were much more likable than Jack, but mostly there for support or to push Anne to do something.

Arranged ended up being a speed read for me once I hit about the 40% mark. I thought about putting it down and coming back to it another time – I try to finish every book I start, even if it’s months later – but I powered through and continued on until the end. It did get better, which was a relief, and I was wanting to know what happened at the end. Things were looking up for a while. The ending was better than I expected it to be, but I was still hoping things would go in a different direction. In the end, I gave this book 2 stars despite thinking the writing and story was closer to 3. It just didn’t pull me in.

All of that said, I do plan on reading Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie one day. I’ve had it in my library wish list for about a year, before I even thought about reading Arranged. There have been a few times that I’ve read multiple books by one author and loved one while not liking the others. Perhaps that will happen with Catherine McKenzie.

According to Goodreads, a couple of books other reads liked are: The Singles by Meredith Goldstein and In the Bag by Kate Klise. For more information at Goodreads.


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