Review of The Matchmaker and the Cowboy by Robin Bielman

This one’s paradoxically a hit . . . and a miss? Read on.

Blurb: Callie Carmichael has a gift for making bridesmaid dresses—some even call them magical. Somehow, every person who’s worn one of her dresses has found love. Real love. And as long as that happily-ever-after is for someone else, Callie is happy. Because she’s fully over getting her heart broken…which is why her new roommate is definitely going to be a problem.

After being overseas for six months, Callie’s only choice is to stay with her best friend’s ridiculously hot brother, Hunter Owens. Cowboy, troublemaker, and right now, the town’s most coveted bachelor. Only, Hunter isn’t quite the player she thought. And if it weren’t for her whole “no more love” thing, their setup could get confusing really fast.

Now, Hunter wants Callie to make him a best man suit—a “lucky for love” kind of suit. But what happens if she makes the suit and he finds true love…and it isn’t her?

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Callie returns home from Africa expecting to stay at her family home but arrives to discover no family and the house a construction zone because her family is remodeling (literally, they’re doing the construction) but they’ve gone off to help hurricane victims rebuild. Sad and miffed that they aren’t there, she is enlisted to stay with her best friend Nova’s brother Hunter after he suffers a black widow bite. Hunter has always been in love with Callie but has never expected to receive the time of day from her, but this might be his chance in Robin Bielman’s The Matchmaker and the Cowboy.

Firstly, I absolutely adored Hunter. The romance book world is not filled with nice guy main characters, which makes reading about Hunter a delight. Why women would rather read about other women being treated badly by alpha males is beyond me (actually not I think it has to do with getting older and demanding to be treated well in relationships, but I’ll get off this soap box before I lose track of what I’m reviewing). Hunter is thoughtful, considerate, a listener. Ya, the perfect male romantic character for a beautiful love story. And the fact that he’s handsome and funny is just icing on the cake. Yummy cake.

Unfortunately, his counterpart, Callie, who is initially plucky, falls back on whiny, un-self-aware territory, which gets old really fast. Sincerely, this book was only 306 pages but began to feel much longer due to repetition and the repetition of whiny Callie. While Callie redeemed herself at the ending due to her grand gesture—the grand gesture itself was problematic because it happened during Hunter’s brother Maverick’s wedding reception, which is a huge no-no. It would be horrific in real life, taking the attention away from the couple without their permission (and maybe even with), but perhaps it’s not so bad in a book? No, it’s still bad. But, you know, I’ve already established that Callie is un-self-aware and perhaps we can just extend that to all around unaware. After taking a cursory glance at reviews, I was surprised that no other reviewers thought the timing of that grand gesture was icky. I wonder why?

All of the secondary characters were well done from toddler princess Jenna to aging snarky humorist Birdy.

Seasonally, The Matchmaker and the Cowboy feels right on, moving from autumn crispness to Thanksgiving and then to Christmas so a very pleasant read for the time.

I was sad to see that Bielman did not do more with the magical dress aspect of the book thus building up on the whole “matchmaker” aspect. While it’s talked about, we never read any scenes that directly delve into the magic, which would have been a lovely addition.

I usually enjoy Robin Bielman’s novels so I think that this is just a one off for me. Maybe I’m just Grinching early; you’ll probably enjoy it more than me.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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