The Perfect Match

Kimberly Cates
2007, Contemporary Romance
HQN, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373772653

Grade: C
Sensuality: Warm

The Perfect Match features Rowena Brown, a free-spirited heroine who is thisclose to being a total ditz. She love animals - a major point in her favor - but she often acts in a way that causes her staid family to wonder about her. As for the hero, his name is Cash Lawless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a romanceland cliché of a name. If you think he is staid and uptight, you must have read this book.

Rowena Brown’s mother and sister are sensible, hard-working women. Rowena herself was on track to become a veterinarian since she loves animals. But Rowena’s Aunt Maeve told her to go to Whitewater, Illinois to find her soulmate. Since she has always been a bit of a gypsy, Rowena takes her aunt’s advice and opens a pet shop in Whitewater, with plans to use her empathic senses to match people with a perfect pet. Right now she has Clancy, aka Destroyer, a 100+ pound Newfoundland on her hands. He’s a nice dog, but he’s a Newfoundland – big and bumptious. When Clancy practically destroys a tea shop, Rowena falls afoul of local deputy Cash Lawless.

Cash is a single father with two daughters. Mac was crippled in an auto accident (their mother was driving) and Charlie is shy and suffering from her mother’s defection from their lives. Charlie and Clancy bond, but Cash has his hands more than full and doesn’t want to take on a huge, shedding, slobbering dog. The story begins when Clancy gets loose and goes over to Cash’s house. He startles their elderly baby sitter, resulting in the man's broken leg. Feeling guilty, Rowena offers to help out. Cash begins to warm up to her - and Clancy - when he sees how the dog is helping his daughters.

The Perfect Match begins on a comic note, but it has its share of anguish. Cash’s former wife Lisa comes back into the picture and proves to be not an evil witch, but a torn and broken woman who needed to heal herself before she could come back into her daughter’s lives. Cash loosens up, and Rowena becomes more responsible – and that’s about it for the book. This is a familiar tale that’s been told many times. Kimberly Cates tells it competently, but she doesn’t bring much originality or freshness to the telling. It’s an average book. Period.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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