In the spirit of entrepreneurial competition, two businesses compete for a high profile clien,t and the fact that these establishments happen to be matchmakers provides the foundation for Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ latest novel, Match Me If You Can. Since the nature of the matchmaking business requires the mixing of business (clients are required to sign contracts and shell out a hefty fee) and pleasure (clients are set up on dates based on the criteria they find most appealing), this healthy competition results in a vibrant, fun, and, while somewhat predictable, entertaining read.
When Annabelle Grangers inherits her Nana’s matchmaking business, she immediately realizes that to survive, it will have to undergo a major transformation. Although she remains cautiously committed to her existing clientele (consisting primarily of Nana’s contemporaries) she knows that to turn a profit she will need to broaden the scope of her business’s appeal. She also knows that to become a true player, she will need to compete with the other more well-established and up-scale matchmaking agencies. Based on this situation, when she comes across an opportunity to solicit the business of a ruggedly-handsome high-profile sports agent bachelor named Heath Champion, she makes it her mission to land him as a client, find his ideal match, and use this success to place her on the map.
The arrogant, abrasive, condescending and hot-shot bachelor Heath Champion has had little luck with love due, in part, to the laundry list of characteristics he insists must be possessed by his true love. The sheer absurdity of his demands, coupled with his stringent time frame (he must be hitched prior to his fast-approaching thirty-fifth birthday) make him a challenge even for renowned power-match guru Portia Powers, owner of Power Match, who signed Heath to an exclusive contract for her services. This mere informality of a signed agreement does little to dissuade Annabelle from moving forward with her plan to secure his business, and Heath decides drastic circumstances require drastic measures and agrees to give Annabelle the chance to simultaneously introduce him to his potential wife. This decision aggravates Portia who views the situation as a desperate and underhanded move by Annabelle to pillage her star client, and she becomes even more determined to ensure that it is her own company that makes the introduction leading Heath directly to the altar.
As both women tackle this challenge, they become engrossed in the personal life of their star client - as well as the lives of each other. Portia’s stellar good looks, A-list clientele, full-service firm, and reputation in the affluent community translates into a worthy adversary for Annabelle’s red frizzy hair, clientele list of widows of an advanced age, and dingy (but cozy) office located in her Nana’s former apartment. Both women embark on a journey to dramatically alter the life of Health Champion as a means of furthering their business interests and end up changing their own lives in ways neither would have ever imagined.
Match Me If You Can is a welcome addition to the world of chick lit as its explores the business of matchmaking, the clientele it attracts, and the cultural obsession with finding the right person at the right time and for the right reasons.