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Title: Sparks the Matchmaker
Author: Russell Elkins
Publication Date: April 9, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Ollie just wants one thing. The girl.
Things haven’t been going so well with Anne lately, though; their relationship has become a perpetual study date, and Ollie’s roommates are starting to worry about him. How to fix things? Why, with a marriage proposal, of course.
Unfortunately for Ollie, his relationship with Anne has run out of gas. Life feels like it’s counting down to one. And that one is the only person in Ollie’s life he really cares about: Ollie. Perhaps, then, he should get over himself. But first he has to deal with Sparks, the irritating little Yankees fan who invades his life in order to “help” him. And while Keith, his best friend, is doing all he can to help, Ollie’s other friend Richie never fails to show up and threaten to ruin everything just by being himself. Never mind all the drama Sparks brings to the party by forcing Ollie to take a job actually helping people in need.
Will Ollie meet the girl? Will it be in history class? On a road trip to Colorado? Can he get over Anne, or should he try to mend the relationship? Should he pursue the new girl Sparks is trying to set him up with? As the strings of the puppeteer tangle with the strings of the heart, only one person can sort out the mess Ollie has made. It seems that the harder he tries, the more Ollie messes things up. Is Sparks a cruel manipulator, or is he really going to help Ollie find his match?
This novel had an interesting concept behind it. After watching shows about matchmaking, as well as the k-drama, Dating Agency Cyrano, I thought that this was an interesting spin for the New Adult genre.
I really liked the concept. A person able to read people just by their movements and observations. I suspect there was some kind of magic to it all, but it was an interesting concept, having Sparks being almost like a puppet master, trying to orchestrate the perfect ending for everyone. I also liked the overall attention given to special needs people. I really enjoyed getting to know those characters especially, and I liked that it opened the door of opportunity for Ollie and other characters.
While we’re on the subject of characters, the ones in this book were extremely interesting characters to read about. Ollie is a little selfish, even towards the end he has a very “me, me, me” mindset, though it had been slowly falling away throughout the novel, it never quite finished polishing him off. However, this didn’t bother me. It just meant that while the character has made improvements, he still has room to change and grow with the new things coming his way. I also loved Greg. He’s a cute character when in the mood and his relationship with Ollie, while odd, was sweet and heartwarming at times, and fairly alarming at others. Again, I really liked him, as well as Marie, in all their appearances throughout the novel! Ollie’s friendship with his roommates was cool. While he was getting readjusted to hanging out with him, I felt like they were really cool about everything. It’s always awesome to read about friends who have each others’ back, no matter what they’ve been through.
One thing that I want to comment on is the narrator’s voice. The book is third person except in small lines here and there where the narrator would stick in a random “I” line. I’m not sure if it’s that character thinking or whether the narrator just felt like they should just plop themselves here and there to make sure you remember that they’re still there. It was just something I noticed throughout the book that I found odd, and yet interesting enough that it managed to get me to pay more attention to the narrative instead of annoying me, which is definitely something new.
Overall, this novel was really enjoyable and was a very fun read. I love the unpredictability of the story line and the fun upbeat (for the most part) characters. Definitely a book I’d recommend you pick up! I’m also really hoping that we’ll see more from Sparks soon !
GoodReads Rating: 4/5
Russell Elkins has become a leading expert on open adoption through first-hand experience that he now shares in Open Adoption, Open Heart. Russell regularly contributes to Adoption.com. He also writes his own blog at russellelkins.com to educate others in the struggles and beauties of open adoption.
Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. They had the same goals for their home and didn’t want to wait too long before starting their family. However, filling their home quickly with children wasn’t in the cards, and they found themselves weighing their options to overcome problems with infertility. Their lives changed dramatically the day they decided to adopt.
Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption.
Russell was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family moved away from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown.
Even after leaving home, Russell always stayed close to his family. He shared an apartment with each of his three brothers at different times during his college career. They formed a band together back in the 1990s and still perform on a regular basis under the name of the Invisible Swordsmen.
After nearly a decade of college and changing his major a few times, Russell received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later graduated from Ameritech College where he learned the trade of being a dental lab technician. Russell now owns and operates Elkins Dental Lab located in Meridian, Idaho.
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Ollie sat in his history class thinking about his future. His eyes darted from one pretty face to another, wondering which girl Sparks would be setting him up with. Sparks, who sat next to him, was smug. He had expected Sparks to have informed him by the time class started, but that didn’t happen. Of course. He’s maximizing his investment in my misery.
The professor began talking about Tiananmen Square. Ollie decided he couldn’t wait any longer. He put the back of his hand to his mouth and whispered out the side of it, “Tell me who.”
“What? I can’t hear you.”
A little louder, “Who’s the girl?”
“Huh? Speak up.”
Ollie pretended he was clearing his throat. “AH-Who?!” People heard him that time, and some turned to give him looks. He flushed crimson.
“I was just kidding,” Sparks said. “I heard you the first time.”
“Jerk.” Ollie said it much too loudly. Half the class, including the professor, stopped to look at him. “Sorry,” he said. “Those Chinese army guys were jerks. You know,” he gestured to the slideshow image of the student confronting the tank in Tiananmen Square.
Class went on.
Sparks leaned in. “That’s not going to help you catch the girl. She heard you loud and clear with that one.”
Ollie forgot about the history lesson and scanned the room again. She must be sitting somewhere close. He knew she would have to be attractive, or Sparks would never feel confident in what he was doing. In thirty seconds he narrowed his investigation down to two suspects.
He looked at Sparks and then pointed to a beautiful curly- haired brunette one row in front of him and 4 chairs to the right. He raised his eyebrows as if to ask, Is it her?
Sparks nodded, and Ollie felt a jolt of excitement run through him. He wasn’t sure whether or not Sparks would tell him who the girl was, even if he guessed right. He felt like something was going to happen in his favor for once. His future finally had a face. And it’s gorgeous! A smile spread itself luxuriantly across his face.
He spent the rest of his class time studying. But not history.
He carefully observed the way she chewed her bottom lip as she concentrated. He memorized every curl in her long brown hair. He took mental notes on every tiny detail.
Hearing other students start to rustle around, Ollie looked up at the clock and saw that the bell was soon to ring. Ollie didn’t move. There was only one person in the class who was still listening to the lecture and she was the only other person who hadn’t begun to pack up her books, waiting for the bell to ring. So he sat and studied her some more.
“You’re going to need to stall a little,” Sparks said after the bell finally rang. “She’s planning on sticking around after class to ask the professor something.”
“I’m going to meet her right now?” He was getting nervous.
Ollie waited just outside the classroom, trying to look nonchalant. He watched as students from other rooms and lecture halls began pouring into the hallway. He was tall enough to be able to monitor the many heads tightly packing in together as the stream of students gradually grew larger and larger, flowing toward the exits. From his vantage point he eventually saw a familiar curly brown head slip into the stream, so he bravely dove into the current that swept toward the doors where it opened up outside into an ocean of college students.
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