Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst
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Publisher: Gallery Books
Publishing Date: April 29, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
The up-and-coming matchmaking agency Kinnections is the hottest thing to hit Verily, New York—just like Kennedy Ashe, social director for the service she owns with her two best girlfriends. A coach, consultant, and cheerleader rolled into one super-sizzling package, Kennedy creates dream dates, encourages singles to shine, and never refuses a challenge—not even Nate Ellison Raymond Dunkle, rocket scientist, nerd extraordinaire, and Kennedy’s newest client.
Kennedy vows to work her magic and transform this hot mess in a lab coat with a disastrous relationship track record into the most wanted man on the Verily dating scene. If only she could turn the wand on herself . . .
Though she radiates confidence and sex appeal, Kennedy harbors deep-seated insecurities from a tormented past and lifelong struggle with weight issues. When she realizes she and Nate are cut from the same cloth and might be perfect together, can Kennedy learn to let her heart lead the way? Or will her fears sentence her to the sidelines as Nate finds love—with someone else?
Nate believes he has everything he needs to move onto the next level in his life. He is a successful career and now he is looking to find someone special to settle down with. He wants a wife and family to come home to, but he just doesn’t know where to find it. There aren’t many attractive women hanging around in his lab waiting for him to ask them out. When he tries a night of speed dating, disastrous doesn’t even begin to cover it.
When he gets pulled aside by the most beautiful woman there that night, he thought his luck had changed, but Kennedy Ashe is just trying to sell him her services…no, not those kind of services, but her services as a matchmaker. Kennedy wants to make Nate over, Pigmalion style. He will be her own Eliza Doolittle, she will make him over and find him true love. The first thing she needs to do is remove the orange self-tanner and return Nate to a normal color. Then he needs a new wardrobe, haircut, maybe a sexy five o’clock shadow, and when she is done on the outside, she needs to teach him how to talk with women without insulting them with his brutal honesty.
Actually, Kennedy believes his honesty is quite refreshing even if it is a tad harsh. It is nice to finally know what a man is actually thinking. But what Nate is actually thinking is that the wants his matchmaker. The more time he spends with Kennedy, the more he is certain that she is the perfect woman for him. He can see that beneath the sophisticated woman before him is a someone of fears commitment and doesn’t believe herself worthy of the love she is trying to find for others.
Nate needs to convince Kennedy to give him a chance before she puts him on the market for her clients and packs him off for a HEA with someone else.
I really loved Nate and Kennedy. Who doesn’t love a geek in love? Nate is a bit of a mess, literally. He is always covered in spills. He is awkward with women. I gave this book only 4 1/2 stars because the characters and their interaction was wonderful, but there are several contrived story plots which will make you roll your eyes. Nate is a geek. He’s dated, but nothing long term and it is amazing that he dated at all since he needs such a drastic makeover of his look and his wardrobe to get women to even look at him. But not only that, he has a habit of saying what he thinks and turning women off. Soooo how come Nate is such a fabulously hot lover in bed? If he was so good, you think one of his prior lovers would have taken the time to do her own makeover and overlooked or curbed his big mouth. Nat is also hindered by an older brother who is sex on a stick and who teaches Nate all about picking up women for one-night stands. His brother has been burned by relationships and he can’t understand why Nate wants to find someone to marry. So Kennedy has to counter everything Nate has been taught by his brother.
We find out that as self-possessed and stylish as Kennedy is now, underneath it all she is still the fat, geeky girl that was teased and tormented in her youth. She eventually goes the other way and becomes anorexic until she gets help and learns how to deal with food. But you can see she still lusts for some of the things that Nate eats in front of her, so maybe she doesn’t have it all worked out with that relationship. Kennedy doesn’t believe she is worthy of a deep relationship which also indicates not all her issues have been dealt with in her therapy. Like Nate’s brother, she also uses casual sex as a way to keep men from getting too close.
As an example, one of the contrived story plots involved Kennedy who just happens to meet a date where Nate and his brother go to have a beer. Kennedy asks this man out to get her mind off of Nate. Kennedy and her date know that the get together is intended to lead to casual sex, but she changes her mind when she sees Nate at the bar. Kennedy doesn’t go home with the date, but they leave the building to a dark corner outside where date starts to force himself on Kennedy, rips her clothes, etc. Nate had the sudden need to follow her out, sees what’s going on and beats up the date to protect Kennedy. Now I can go with the theory that Nate used to be picked on at school and his brother taught him to protect himself, but why would Kennedy be hanging around in a dark alleyway with a man who she decided not to have sex with for a makeout session, except to wait around to be rescued by Nate, who she expected was going to get his ass kicked by her date.
One thing that did bug me and I have complained when the hero does it, so let’s not be sexist and I’ll complain that our heroine has done it…Kennedy sleeps with Nate although she has declared over and over again that she can’t commit to a relationship with him. After sleeping with him, she sets him up on dates with other women. In prior stories, when my hero has no problem having sex with the heroine even though he feels she needs to go find a better man than him, I have slammed him for his behavior and Kennedy deserves no less censure. If you sleep with the guy who likes you (and you like him) and then push him out of bed to go find another women, that does reek of cold-hearted bitch.
This was an enjoyable story with well written characters and many fun moments, and when Kennedy wasn’t lamenting how unlovable she was, the time spent between Nate and Kennedy was sweet. Jennifer Probst was highly recommended to me and this was my first story by her. I picked it because I liked the plot idea of the geek makeover. I was just a little disappointed that she used such basic dime store romance plot points.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
She took a slug of water so she didn’t have to answer. He waited her out anyway, his gaze probing for truth. “Long term means something different for everyone. Yours is marriage. Mine is a few months.”
Students chatted, mats were dragged out for the next class, and his voice reached her ears, deep and dark and caressing. “Maybe you deserve more.”
She opened her mouth to set him straight, but a sweet, female voice interrupted. “Hi. Just wanted to welcome you to Zumba. It’s so great to see a man here. Most don’t have the guts.”
Kennedy took in her high ponytail, bare midrift, and interested gaze. Whoa. She was really interested, her sly gaze sliding up and down his body. Fresh meat was always welcome at the gym. Nate didn’t move. Didn’t respond. Kennedy cleared her throat and bumped his shoulder. This was a perfect opportunity to watch him handle a first meet. Maybe he’d learned a few lessons from the disastrous speed dating and their time together. “Umm, Nate, I’ll be right back.”
She moved away to give them a bit of privacy, and fiddled with her iPhone. Come on, dude, you can do this. Talk. Say anything. No, scratch that, say something that’s not stupid.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Nate.”
Kennedy slumped with relief. Perfect. Maybe she should school him just to be direct from the get-go. No bad pick-up lines, body-related comments, or probing questions. Just direct information.
“I’m Heidi. Haven’t seen you at the gym before. First time?”
“Yep, I’m a golfer, but figured I’d try something different. Hey, you have a great–“
Kennedy squeezed her phone in a death grip.
She let out her breath. He listened! Maybe this would be easier than she thought. Was he ready to be sent out? They had the wardrobe makeover coming up, and of course the role-play session with Arilyn and Kate,but she always saved that for last. A mixer would definitely work. Plenty of options.
“Thanks so much. I’m heading for a shake at the health bar. Wanna join me?”
“Sure.” He glanced over at Kennedy. She gave him a subtle thumbs-up sign. He gave a slight nod in acceptance and began walking out. Their voices drifted through the room. “What do you do, Heidi?”
“I’m in school. Studying to be a nail technician.”
“You need to go to college to learn how to paint nails?”
Heidi paused and swung her head around. “Nails are serious business. Why, what are you? A rocket scientist?”
He stiffened. Kennedy winced. Oh, no. No, no, no, no…
“Actually, an aerospace engineer. They don’t call it rocket science anymore.”
She cocked her head. “Are you serious, man?”
He gave her the look. Filled with derision and judgment. “Of course. Listen, I don’t think this will work between us for long-term relationship, but I’m completely open to having a short affair. What do you think?”
Heidi gasped. “You’re an asshole.” She stalked off, ponytail bouncing, and disappearing through the smoked-glass door.
Nate blinked. The lines of his face were stamped with complete surprise. He turned back to Kennedy with is palms upturned. “What did I do wrong?”
Okay, no mixer.