Once Upon A Blind Date
by Wendy Markham, contemporary (2004)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61176-X
Once upon a time, there are two people who have nothing better to do with their lives than to try and run their friend's life for that person. Maggie O'Mulligan decides to push her friend Dominic into the marriage market. She'll decide the kind of woman he will marry, naturally. How does she get this idea? That's because Dominic is always asking her to do the laundry and cook and be his unpaid mother and she decides that it's time she gets another woman to fill in the thankless role.
Meanwhile, Charles Kennelly has been left at the altar and now he is very cynical about the whole relationship thing. But that's not stopping him from trying to push his neighbor Julie into the dating scene (just not with him, of course, as he's cynical) because as he reasons, she's a great pastry chef and a man could use being buttered up by her. Um, yes, that's nice, because everything a woman does is to make another guy happy, I'm sure. Ooh, if I'm a rocket scientist, does that mean that I should get married to man to make his rocket take off like nobody's business?
Charlie and Maggie sign up their respective so-called best buddies at the matchmaking agency the Matchmocha. They also complete the questionnaires for their buddies. Unsurprisingly, they will also screen the candidates and chaperone the dates. On Julie and Dominic's first date, those two fail to click. The chaperones, however, hate each other at first sight. You can guess which direction this story is heading towards, I guess.
While I do enjoy the author's sitcom-style depiction of life around Manhattan, her plot and characters are total contrivances. None of the characters' motivations make much sense and they behave only according to plot. Maggie, for example, keeps insisting that Julie get it clicking with Dominic when everybody else can see that those two are going nowhere, and this behavior makes no sense unless it's just a contrivance for the author to keep getting Maggie and Charlie to bump into each other. Julie and Dominic come off as spineless saps to allow themselves to be bossed around by the pushy Charlie and the increasingly, psychotically bossy Maggie. If the author has put a neon sign above those two poor losers' head saying "Hi, I'm A Transparent Plot Device, Pity Me Please", she can't be any less obvious. At the end of the day, Charlie and Maggie get married, but so what, really? Their getting there is an unfunny, overlong sitcom that just gets increasingly bizarre and whacked out as the story progresses. With friends like these, Julie and Dominic really don't need enemies.
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