Matchmaker by Susan Furman
(Five Star, 26.95, PG-13) ISBN 0-7862-4451-8
Although Matchmaker is billed as a romance, it should be labeled as romantic suspense. Even so, there's not a lot of suspense or romance in this book and the characters are extremely one-dimensional.

Jill Sands is a matchmaker for the very wealthy. She makes lots of money for herself and her employer, Ivana, at Exclusively Ivana's. Jill dates a wealthy young producer, shops on Rodeo Drive, eats at the finest of restaurants and only associates with others in her same socioeconomic class.

Jill helped match a beautiful young woman, Lisa Tong, with U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful, Phil Donnelly. When Donnelly reports her missing, police detective Tony Rosetti visits Jill looking for some information on Lisa. Jill is hesitant to divulge any personal information about a client, but Lisa is also a friend. Jill does a little investigating on her own and finds that Lisa has a past and that she visited Jill's cabin in the woods. After an unknown man tries to kill Jill at her cabin, she turns to Tony for help.

I can certainly get into a good, trashy novel, but Matchmaker just didn't do it for me. Jill is very into money and prestige, and having really good thighs. Later in the story line you learn she comes from a normal family with down-to-earth values and even intended to be a social worker. It is really difficult to believe. There just isn't enough character development in the story line for either Jill or Tony.

I never believed that Jill truly regretted her snobbery or her moneyed life. Although she believes in being nice to the less fortunate, she really isn't. Jill's attitude is pretty much that only people with money are real. In fact, she says as much as she is leaving a trailer park outside of Las Vegas and heads to the "real" Las Vegas. "Luxury hotels, big name entertainment and lots of high class people with lots of money. No trailer parks."

Toward the end of the book, she takes Tony to a fancy Boston restaurant because, as she puts it, "[I]'ve become accustomed to traveling in certain circles." Not that I don't believe in fine dining, but in order to believe Jill has changed for the better, she really needs to end up in a modest neighborhood restaurant and not the same really expensive restaurant she shared with her former very shallow boyfriend Brent.

By the way, Jill doesn't break up with Brent because he is shallow or because the sex is not so great, or because he's not really there for her, she breaks up with him because he refuses to do a few illegal things for her while she is investigating Lisa's disappearance. Tony has no problem with a little breaking and entering, so he and Jill team up.

So one week she's having kinky sex with Brent and the next week Jill's having sex with Tony. Better sex, "The hot, steamy night went on and on." And no uncomfortable lingerie is necessary, but where is the romance in this?

Call me old fashioned, but it might have been a little more romantic if they had waited a few weeks before they hopped into bed. Besides, I kept thinking that Jill is only having sex with Tony because she wants him to help her and to protect her against the guy who is trying to kill her.

Bottom line here is that Matchmaker is trashy without the flash that makes trash so much fun to read. The sex is not hot enough, there isn't a lot of suspense, and as a romance this story just doesn't make the grade. More character development is a must: romance readers want heroines and heroes they can understand and, at least in some way, appreciate.

--Judith Flavell

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