Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Secrets can derail even the most powerful attraction.
Logger Sven Larson has never found a man worth publicly coming out of the closet for. But his family has other plans. As a thirtieth birthday gift, his mother hires the online dating service Perfect Match to find Sven the love of his life. To say Sven isn’t thrilled is an understatement, but it’s too late to cancel, and Jayden Calver arrives.
Perfect Match’s success rate is unsurpassed, but they don’t come by it honestly: if a client can’t be matched, the agency uses a stand-in to fulfil their guarantee and protect their profit.
Tough luck has left Jayden in debt, and playing Perfect Match’s deceptive game is his only option. So he travels — sparkling toenails and all — to a remote camp deep in the mountains to meet Sven Larson and pretend to be his perfect match for a few days.
Sparks fly on first contact. But as the two men get closer, Sven grows more and more suspicious of Jayden, and Jayden struggles with guilt over his deceit. They both want a future together, but first they must find the courage to be honest with themselves and each other.
I will admit I was fully prepared to not like Jayden. I thought he would have done something stupid and is now trying to cover for it by working for Perfect Match. Which is sort of true. His stupid thing was in a time of stress and I could see it happening and then things got worse, got really bad. So being a Perfect Match liar was in fact a better choice. He shows up wet, bedraggled, cold and a bit scared to meet Sven and turns out he’s meeting the whole family. Who are pretty scary in their own right. But he’s got to go through with it.
So we get Sven, who didn’t want anything to do with this matchmaking but realizes it’s important to his mother, and Jayden, who is playing a part for the next ten days. He plays it well but of course those darn feelings start to interfere with it being just a job. I liked that they didn’t jump into bed in the first five minutes. I even liked David, Sven’s ex-boyfriend who had some snarky, petty moments but then proves himself a decent friend.
The moment when the lies come to light and Sven and Jayden have the conversation was heartwrenching. I felt bad for Jayden but I felt devastated for Sven. “He’s gotten so wrapped up in his fantasies of him and Jayden together. Happiness. Something real. A future. He was such a fool.”
The whole of the scam behind Perfect Match makes you want to scream, knowing how they take advantage of people. And yet, for Jayden it was a way out of a terrible situation. But
I liked this very much, mainly because the connection between Sven and his family and Sven and Jayden made me care about them. “…he’d always known he could count on his family, while Jayden had nobody.” But it didn’t magically erase the hurt Sven felt and that seemed realistic. It’s an interesting take on a “mail-order bride” sort of story.
The cover by LC Chase, showing Sven and Jayden, is pretty simple but fits the story.
Published January 14th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Perfect Match
Edition Language English