Monday, September 22, 2008

Kitchen Matches by Marianne Arkins

TITLE: Kitchen Matches
AUTHOR: Marianne Arkins
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 18k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $3.50

Coerced by her family to take a cooking class in an effort to be more feminine, auto mechanic Cori turns out – unsurprisingly – to be completely inept in the kitchen. The fact that her teacher is snobby, arrogant, and gorgeous? Doesn’t help. But when Micah unexpectedly needs his van towed after class one night, the attraction she’s been fighting turns out to be not quite so one-sided…

When I read the excerpt for this short novella prior to buying it, I laughed. In a good way. So when I bought it, I had high hopes. Not every story can maintain a level of charm and wit from start to finish, but happily, this one does. Cori is sharp and intelligent, and if she’s a klutz in the kitchen, that just gives her an imperfection that’s relatable. The events of the class are played for laughs, but it’s not over the top, not unbelievable. Add in the fact that the dialogue sparkles when Cori and Micah are going at each other, or when Cori is with her family, and reading this was fast, fun, and furious.

Where Cori leaps from the page, Micah barely hops. Cori makes suppositions about him from the start – that he comes from wealth, that he’s pampered and led a sheltered life – that play out in their interactions. While Micah does take steps to attempt to get to know Cori as a person, it always carried with it the sense that he was slumming among the lower classes. Like the rebellious rich boy out to prove to his parents that he could do whatever he wants. It makes it hard to like him, when for Cori’s sake, I really wanted to.

One thing I really loved, though, was the portrayal of a large family. Cori is the youngest of seven, with six older brothers. They tease, they taunt, they torture, and they stick by each other through thick and thin. As one in a family of four children, I felt like I’d stepped into any number of my own family gatherings, every time Cori interacted with even one of her siblings or parents. The brothers had distinct personalities, and each coped with Cori in his own way. They provide Cori’s foundation, and it’s both easy and entertaining to see how it’s manifested in the way she deals with Micah. If I didn’t care for her romantic backstory as much, that’s okay. Her family more than makes up for those few clich├ęs.

The humor and charm carries the novella a great distance, when the romance itself doesn’t. Cori is an adorable heroine. I was glad for the chance to get to know her, even if only briefly.

Readability

9/10 – While in the heroine’s POV, the story sparkles and zips along. In the hero’s…not so much.

Hero

5/10 – I honestly didn’t understand what the attraction was. While the gestures were nice, it felt too much like he was deliberately slumming it.

Heroine

8/10 – Amusing and realistic

Entertainment value

7/10 – The good humor plays a long way in this, but the romance is hard to accept when Micah’s a little hard to believe.

World building

8/10 – I’ve seen families exactly like Cori’s. That part was wonderful. With the hero…not so much

TOTAL:

37/50

1 comment:

Marianne Arkins said...

Thank you for the review!