Miss Match
by Leslie Carroll, contemporary (2002)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1999-6

Name-droppings, one-liners, wisecracks, a heroine on a series on bad dates while tripping away to her happily ever after... Leslie Carroll's romance debut (she has written stuff outside the genre before) Miss Match leans more towards the "chick lit" subgenre rather than the conventional contemporary romantic comedy. For example, the heroine actually enjoys a normal sex life.

But I am just not amused. I hardly crack a smile throughout this story at all, despite the author's vigorous dishing out of one-liners. Humor is subjective, yes, and there are probably many out there even now who are rolling around the floor, laughing uproariously when the heroine says, "Are you one taco shy of a combination plate?"

I don't like tacos, I realize at that point. Gimme KFC anyday.

This is the story of Kathryn Lamb who signs on to Six In The City (memo to the producers of Sex In The City: I think Leslie Carroll, also an actress who has appeared on "daytime dramas" according to the bio at the back, is keen to replace Sarah Jessica Horseface Parker), a matchmaking agency, for five dates. As she stumbles through the dates, she will fall for the matchmaking's temp boss, Walker "Bear, 'cos I'm one-sixteenth American Indian" Hart.

That's it, really. Kate and Bear spend their time exchanging wisecracks with very little character development thrown in. Hey, you could argue that Kylie Adams is guilty of the same sins, but she, at least, can get outright bitchy and funny. Ms Carroll, on the other hand, relies on more restrained, less in-your-freaking-face one-liners to carry her story. It's make-or-break then, how the reader reacts to these one-liners. To this reader, she finds the whole "zinging wisecracks" flat and uninspired.

To top it off, the very shallow baggages the author puts into Bear don't make sense. He doesn't believe in marriage because his mother idolizes Liz Taylor, so to speak, but Mom is actually very happy. So why the insistence that marriage is bad, Bear hon? I know you want some conflict to get the story going, but there are so many other excuses to postpone sex, y'know. An impotent problem, perhaps? Or how about you wanting to wear Kate's thong during sex and she balks? Anything but that tired old song, because Bear darling, those blues are getting bloody old.

Ahem. But hey, I may find Miss Match dull as dishwater, but at least Ms Carroll has the concept, you know, even if the execution is flawed. Whether I like the execution or not, Miss Match is a fresh breeze in the current stagnant "sex for marriage and rescue fantasies, will give out for baby and a ranch in Texas" state of contemporary romances. How many cosmopolitan pro-city lights romance novels are out there? Not many. So yeah, I'll stay on the Leslie Carroll train for a while more. The blurb for the next book, Reality Check sounds fun, and I hope I find it more interesting than this one.

Me and Miss Match is kind of a mismatch. Let's see how the next date turns out, eh?

Rating: 53

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