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The Matchmaker    by Lisa Plumley order for
by Lisa Plumley
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

The single men of Morrow Creek face a dire dilemma -- ever since an anonymous Matchmaker began giving the single women in town tips on how to bait, hook and reel in prospective husbands, their numbers have been dwindling. So successful is the Matchmaker's campaign that the men's initial disgust turns to desperation and an emergency meeting of the Morrow Creek Men's Club is convened. All agree that it's high time the meddlesome Matchmaker was unmasked and her romantic shenanigans nipped in the bud. There's also general consensus that this mystery woman, so free with advice on love and marriage, is most certainly one of those 'foreward-thinking', 'suffragete-supporting' Crabtree sisters.

Wealthy lumber mill owner Marcus Copeland is certain that simple investigative work is all that's needed to discover the identity of the Matchmaker, and it's soon agreed that Marcus should take on the task of unmasking their nemesis. A determined man in everything he's ever undertaken, Marcus vows to leave no stone unturned until the meddlesome women is found. Molly Crabtree, youngest of the three sisters, has recently opened a bakeshop and is looking for customers. Who better than the strapping, hardworking lumberjacks at Copeland's mill? While handing out free samples she discusses a business arrangement with Marcus. He can't believe his good fortune and readily agrees -- it really doesn't matter that Molly's cinnamon buns and snicker doodles are virtually inedible and best suited for use as doorstops or table levellers. Molly's daily deliveries will allow Marcus to keep close tabs on her and to eventually ferret out the identity of the Matchmaker.

But after only a short time in Molly's vivacious company, Marcus' determination to find the Matchmaker is overshadowed by his growing interest in Molly herself. She too is very attracted to the handsome businessman and enjoys his attentions. Soon they're spending most of their days together, Molly teaching 'bachelor Copeland' how to cook and bake and Marcus 'fixing up' her shop as well as advising Molly on accounting techniques. In short order they've announced a wedding date. The men of Morrow Creek are dismayed that another of their number has 'fallen' while Marcus is on cloud nine and couldn't care less about the Matchmaker as long as Molly is at his side. And Molly is ecstatic. But her joy suddenly dies when she accidentally overhears Marcus and his foreman discussing her 'horrible sweets' and how Marcus had paid his men to buy them. Molly is shattered and calls off the wedding, realizing she should have listened to her sisters when they told her that men can't be trusted.

Lisa Plumley's voice shines whether she writes contemporary or historical romance, and she proves it again with The Matchmaker. Her characters are marvelous, her pacing fast and breezy, and her situations sparkle - they're often laugh-out-loud funny, (who else would have the single women of Morrow Creek gifting prospective husbands with rifle cozies among other things!!) Best of all, once Molly and Marcus sort out their misunderstandings you'll have a smile on your face, maybe even more so once the identity of the Matchmaker is finally revealed.

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