Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks
I must admit, the first book I read in this series is The Bridemaker. I liked it so much that I searched out the rest of the series. The Matchmaker is the first book in Rexanne Becnel’s latest series -“Maker” books. Rexanne Becnel has apparently been writing books for 14 years and has produced 19 novels. This is the first time I have read any of her books and I was impressed. Some books I read just to pass the time; other books require effort to read, with intricate plots and many characters. This series of books fit somewhere in the middle.
Olivia, the heroine of the story, has kept a journal of all the men that she has encountered during her three years on the marriage mart. She prides herself in arranging many matches for her friends, but has yet to meet someone who she considers even remotely suitable for herself. Olivia’s mother has been married and widowed three times. As a result Olivia has a half-brother and half-sister who have different fathers. Olivia’s less than stellar memories of her drunken rake of a father seem to color her views of the opposite sex.
Lord Neville Hawke is our tortured hero. He has lost many people in his life, from friends and fellow soldiers in the war, to his parents and his brother. He escapes the nightmares of battle memories in alcohol, insomnia and fast women. When he meets Olivia he mistakes her for a servant in the household and tries to seduce her. This sets the scene for the beginning of their difficult relationship! Neville flirts with and tries to charm Olivia, but he just succeeds in reminding Olivia of her devil-may-care father. Gradually Olivia discovers that Neville’s scoundrel facade hides a sensitive and lonely man who, of course, is waiting for the right woman to take him in hand!
Upon reading the back of this novel, one would anticipate a light and breezy story, but this is not found to be true. Neville is a tortured hero with problems that justifiably give Olivia pause, but the story ends in a “love conquers all ending”. I feel that the pacing of the story is good until the end where I feel that it is a bit rushed. Overall, a nice, pure romance with enough meat to keep your mind busy and enough believability to keep you turning the pages and looking forward to the next book in the series.
“If you like your heroes dark and flawed, then run, don’t walk, to buy The Matchmaker….Becnel gives us true insight into the human spirit and does not stint on creating the ideal atmosphere and recreating the era to near perfection. A powerful love story.” Romantic Times
The Romance Reader gives this book 4 hearts and says: “In Lord Neville Hawke, Rexanne Becnel has created the perfect tortured hero. She has also created a heroine who is strong enough and wise enough to provide the healing the hero needs.“