After a string of disastrous dates, Natalie reluctantly takes up online dating in Hutchinson’s debut novel.
A husband, kids, a home on a quiet cul-de-sac and a Mickey Mouse waffle maker: Is that too much to ask? It is for 34-year-old Natalie. After a particularly bad blind-date arranged by a hospital co-worker, Natalie agrees to follow her gay friend Derek’s advice and try online dating. She sets up a mostly truthful profile under an assumed name and shortly finds herself on a date with a handsome doctor. Alan’s perfect except for one small thing: He’s the former fiance of her childhood best friend, Jordan. The familiar chick-lit choice between a flawless new love and a self-centered, manipulative friend keeps Natalie wringing her hands in agony. Beyond the initial chapters, it’s Natalie, not the recycled plot, who captivates readers. She appears amusingly ditzy during dating scenes: Natalie’s befuddled by clothing, hair and makeup choices, and she’s prone to falling down. In between the requisite sex, shopping and Sunday brunches, she works as a nurse in a pediatric unit; there, she’s smart and compassionate. Astute observations about co-workers, patients and hospital working-conditions mix sensitivity with wry humor. Compared to Natalie, the beautiful but mean best friend and the dashing, brilliant doctor feel too flat to be realistic. The supportive gay best friend, another stock character, fares better, particularly during scenes related to his career and his rich, unreasonable clients. Delicious humor peppers the novel, even in the most serious scenes. Whether found in the misreading of a romantic situation, the unraveling of an elaborate lie or the physical comedy of a pratfall, the humor ably distracts from the novel’s clichés.
A crepe-thin yet amusing plot featuring a likable heroine.