Sigh. I'm probably being too lenient with this one. Parts of it were ridiculous, but it kept me engaged in the story until the end, so I guess that's something.
Clementine, a psychologist specialising in couples counselling, is reeling from the discovery that her boyfriend is married. Annabel, an ex-model, only seems to attract men who want her as a trophy. Daniela, a civil engineer, is stuck in the friendzone.
Abandoning the romantic notions of true love that haven't worked out for them, the three decide to use their considerable professional skills to find a partner. This isn't about hearts and flowers; it's about being practical.
Warm and witty, Husband Hunters is about what happens when you try to engineer love.
I liked this quite a bit - the idea for the plot was great, and the execution also worked, for the most part.
I do like me a good Friends To Lovers romance, especially when one of the friends has been secretly pining for the other. And in this particular case, I also liked the premise that the book was more or less poking fun at reality TV, which, as we all know, isn't based on reality much at all.
What could have delved into the punny and hilarious actually turned into a rather nice character study of two men who've been friends for a long time, with one of them (Cody) desperately seeking "The One", and the other (Matt) desperately waiting for Cody to see the forest for the trees.
The book did an excellent job poking into the world of "reality" TV, with the off-camera manipulations and the on-camera acting. It was also long enough to establish realistic characterizations for both Matt and Cody, as well as allow them both to grow throughout the story, without ever letting it feel contrived. I giggled a few times, but there were also times when my heart was in my throat and I was on the edge of my seat, hoping and wishing and wanting it all to turn out for them both.
I've come to realize that a Rick Reed book needs to be savored, slowly and carefully, for the treasure within. This one was my favorite by him yet. I loved the slow exploration of the characters, I could feel Matt's pain and Cody's confusion, and I cheered loudly when they finally figure it out.
It also shows that oftentimes, there's not a clear delineation between friends and lovers, and that Cody might have it very wrong when he draws that bold line between the two. It's actually quite the opposite, as he finds out - that friends often make better lovers, and that it's usually a great thing when friends become lovers, when they have a solid foundation of friendship and mutual respect.
Well done, Rick. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **