Red-headed Anne Blythe is 33 years old and newly single after she confronted her cheating boyfriend. It's just one of a string of relationships that just hasn't worked out for her.
While she is a journalist with a good job and a potential book deal, she has plenty of reminders of the life she doesn't have. Her best friend, Sarah, is now engaged to a great guy and her brother, Gilbert (yes, their mom was a fan of "Anne of Green Gables"), and his wife are expecting another child.
In the recently released novel "Arranged," she discovers that finding and holding onto love — and a potential happily ever after — is a journey that can take many emotional, humorous and, at times, heartbreaking twists and turns.
She finds a business card for what she thinks is a dating service. But when she calls the number, she finds it a company that arranges marriages — for $10,000. The marriages are to be based on friendship and there is a confidentiality agreement that has to be signed.
Using part of her book advance, she nervously decides to take the plunge. After several months of visits for the personality test and required therapist appointments, not to mention a roller coaster of emotions, she's en route to a Mexican resort to meet and marry her match — Jack H., a 34-year-old writer/journalist with brown hair and green eyes who is 5-foot-10 and university educated.
They do get married and return to real life after a week at the resort. They merge their book collections, he continues writing his book, which he won't let Anne see; and Anne starts introducing Jack Harmer to her friends and family. And somewhere, they begin to fall in love.
However, there is more than a monetary cost. Anne can't tell the truth to Sarah about the arranged marriage and they fight. Jack is also possibly hiding something that could potentially wreck their relationship — permanently.
Author Catherine McKenzie has captured the hunt for a happily ever after in Anne's search for a husband in an entertaining and heartfelt way, including the emotional swings and indecision of sorting out the touchy and ever-shifting matters of the heart to the happiness of when things just might be working out. Anne does realize she is stronger than what she thinks as she confronts the issues that arise in her relationships.
Unfortunately, most of the characters swear prolifically and many drink just as much throughout the book, which does constantly distract from the overall story. There are sexual innuendo and themes, as Anne and Jack are a newlywed couple and Sarah and her fiance live together before their wedding.