The Dating Pool in NYC is Something Else: A Review of Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer
Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new! As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
Thank you for joining me today. As promised, I have another romance novel to review for you this week. I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t the real Hannah typing. She would never write about two romance books in a row! But what you don’t know about me is that I adore 2000s rom-coms. How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days? Amazing. A Cinderella Story starring teen icon Hilary Duff? Ten-out-of-ten. 27 Dresses? Could watch it all day. The Proposal? Betty White’s masterpiece. Mamma Mia? I’m singing “Dancing Queen” all day. And today’s book is very reminiscent of those films.
Please welcome to the stage Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer.
Let’s crack into it. As always, a spoiler alert is in order. Also, as this book deals with the trials and tribulations of dating, please be aware that there are some instances of sexual harassment that come with dating. These instances are few and far between, but please be aware there are some uncomfortable moments in this book.
Meet Alison. She’s a 27-year-old architectural conservator and is fresh out of a long-term relationship that she thought was leading towards marriage. Sadly, she never got a ring and instead lost her man. So with the help, and suggestion, of her best friends, Alison signs up for the infamous dating site Match.com.
Soon, she finds herself going on a date pretty much every night. Although, the men who she meets are not what she’s looking for. Seriously, she goes on a date with nearly every stereotype in the book. There’s the guy who gets too handsy, the one who just wants a one-night stand, the one who moves super quickly and thinks Alison is his soulmate, the older guy, the walking red flag, the nice guy, and the one that’s too good to be true.
Enter Luke, AKA Mr. Too Good To Be True, he’s a go with the flow kind of guy who became an investment banker once he realized he was tired of being a part-time employee at a ski lodge out in Colorado. Career aspirations are new to him, but he’s cool, funny, charming, and hot; what more could Alison want? She feels super comfortable around him, enjoys spending time with him, and he always makes her laugh. Naturally, there has to be something wrong with Luke and/or their relationship. The second half of the book leaves readers wondering if the pair can reconcile from an undisclosed issue and work through their differences in order to continue their relationship or if he's the one that got away. Nevertheless, Alison receives her happy ending; even if it’s not what readers may expect.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a charming one. Top points go to the suitors. Amanda Stauffer really spent time giving all the men Alison meets interesting quirks and personality traits. And there were so many of them, too! Seriously, over half the book is filled with the main character going on dates with these stereotypes. I could see the speed-dating montage in my head, and I loved every minute of it. I laughed out loud with some of them while others made me hardcore cringe. Ten-out-of-ten when it comes to the Match.com characters.
There were way too many side characters though. Despite enjoying the dating montage, I could not keep any character, other than Alison and Luke, straight. Amanda Stauffer created way too many characters, and it was hard to remember names and how someone was associated with the others. Eventually it got trying just attempting to figure out who was worth remembering because so many of the characters introduced never appeared past the initial meeting. I couldn’t even tell you the names of Alison’s roommates. For me, this is a big detractor. While characters were memorable, I did not know their names.
Another issue I had with this book was the pacing and structure. The story takes place over the course of a year, and it goes by in the blink of an eye. The issue isn’t necessarily the time hopping that occurs, but how scenes are strung together. The author loves to include texts and emails between Alison and her dates; which are very enjoyable by the way. Typically, after one of these exchanges, readers see Alison go on a date with the other half of the correspondence. But once those scenes happen, it feels like a free for all. The pair could go on two dates in the span of a week, or they date for a month before something occurs to turn Alison off and the cycle repeats itself.
What I’m getting at is there isn’t much care into how scenes are strung together. Seriously, I’m pretty sure there are multiple times when one conversation will end, and then suddenly, in a whole new location with new characters, a new conversation starts that seemingly has nothing to do with the previous one. Where did we go? Where did these people come from? Who are they again? I don’t have answers, and I don’t think I’ll ever get them.
Despite those issues, this book is still charming. Alison is a main character readers can get behind. Her plight is something the vast majority of readers can identify with. All she wants is love and to be loved, but she has to dig through the overwhelming pit that is online dating to find it. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been in Alison’s position. Girl is relatable is all I have to say.
There is only one issue that I find to be unforgivable. Amanda Stauffer spends two pages, the last two pages to be exact, explaining what Alison has learned over the course of the year and her character arc. Show don’t tell, Amanda Stauffer, show don’t tell. It is wholly unnecessary, and as it stands, it implies that the author thinks the readers are stupid and need his, her or their hand held.
As a reader, I watched Alison grow over the course of the book. I watched her find herself and come to the conclusion that she don’t need a man to be loved because she has family and friends who love her, and while romantic love is nice, she doesn’t need it 24/7. Sorry, kinda threw a major spoiler in there. This is why I include spoiler alerts at the start of my posts. Anyway, those last two pages really took me out of the story. I don’t need my hand held after watching Alison’s character arc for 300 pages. Had it been cut, it would have made for a much more satisfying, better ending.
And on that note, I must bid you all adieu. I’ve irritated myself thinking about that ending again. And I know this was a quick review, but I hope you enjoyed. I shall see you next week with something a tad bit longer that I think might also be continuing on with this romance theme.
What?! Three in a row!? And it’s not even February! Something must be seriously wrong with this author!
Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and read some good books for me.