The Matchmaker

Jamie Denton
2006, Romantic Suspense
Brava, $14.00, 307 pages, Amazon ASIN 0758210124

Grade: C
Sensuality: Hot

Always looking for that hero I canít help but love (or lust after), I saw immediately that Ash Keller of The Matchmaker fit that bill. Happily reading along, I was confident the hero alone, who epitomized the perfect contemporary hero (and melted my very bones), would earn this book a B grade at the very least. What I didnít anticipate, however, was the backdrop of pure misery, not to mention the highly stubborn, disagreeable woman who was, unfortunately, his chosen one. Poor AshÖhe could only do so much.

Two years ago former federal profiler Greer Lomax gave up her career to heal after an FBI operation gone bad left her in the hands of a serial killer who enjoyed torturing more than one victim at a time. She left both the FBI and the big city and went into seclusion in her small hometown, refusing to communicate with her husband, Ash, the FBI agent whose decision had put her at risk to begin with. Greer refuses to process that ghastly occurrence in her life and who can blame her? Her refusal to confront this issue is the crux of the story.

Her broken dreams arenít much these days but they do include a half-hearted desire to renovate her old Victorian home and run a Bed and Breakfast. But mostly she wants nothing to do with law enforcement, or so she says, as the opening pages depict Greer working as a deputy in the local sheriffís office Ė a supposedly temporary job she hates. Sheís mad at many people, carries resentment to a new level, and wants to quit her job.

Forced to oversee a murder investigation, Greer is sickened by what she senses is more than a single act but, stubborn to the bone, refuses to ask for help. Her former FBI coworkers, however, are still watching over her and soon Greer finds Ash by her side working the case, although she constantly refuses his offers of help and insists she has everything under control.

Ash is a Special Agent overseeing a unit that specializes in profiling and he is one of the best. He feels responsible for what happened to Greer in her last FBI assignment, although he was seriously injured in her rescue attempt. But Ash is not on the scene merely to assist Greer in an investigation, he is also there to reconcile a marriage he still very much wants. Itís been two years since she disappeared from her hospital room without a word and Ash believes they finally need to talk about it all. However Greer greets him as the enemy, speaks rudely to him for pages on end, and takes every opportunity to wound him. In her messed-up world, she is the only one who matters.

Misery is the operative word here in more ways than one. Greer is completely unhappy and just reading about her three to four hours of sleep a night and her refusal to eat much left me tired an irritable. Reading numerous portions of the book from a depraved killerís point of view introduced another side of misery since I donít care to read the gory details of torture.

The suspense portion of the book is well written but strongly driven by such a highly unlikely coincidence that I could not appreciate that aspect of the story. In many ways, the book reminds me of Debra Webbís Nameless, a more recent release, which I found superior in a number of ways.

The highlight throughout the book remained, as in the beginning, Ash. That he is able to hold on so completely to the part of a strong confident hero - while facing repeated rejection - without a bit of emasculation, is a credit to the author, so much so that I bought another of Jamie Dentonís books yesterday hoping to find another Ash-type within its pages. I am willing to put up with some gory suspense if the next hero can get a woman who rates a little lower on the difficulty scale.

-- Lea Hensley

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