This was one of the books I received for Jolabokaflod this year from my sister, and it was just the type of novel that I needed to escape to last weekend—an interesting group of friends, an academic setting, and a rather silly plot involving an online dating site.
Millie Morris is a professor of criminology, specializing in female serial killers, at UC-Santa Barbara; she has a tightknit but eccentric group of male friends, all academics in different departments and all single. Reid and Ed are in neuroscience, Alex is in biochemistry, and Chris is in chemistry. When an upcoming university function (involving a keynote by Barack Obama) requires a plus one—the friends challenge each other to try online dating so they don’t have to attend solo. Millie helps out by creating dating profiles that articulately and honestly capture the essence of each of her friends—especially Reid, who she considers her best friend. However, the guys are underwhelmed with the profile that Millie creates for herself—one that seems to say really nothing about her.
Not surprisingly, Millie’s profile does not attract the quantity or the quality of men she was hoping for; after an onslaught of wedding rings and dick picks, she spontaneously creates a new profile for herself, using her middle name, Catherine, and an arty photo that doesn’t show her face full on. The most surprising (or maybe not surprising) result is she is a match with Reid. Millie is sure that Reid will know it’s her but when he doesn’t and contacts “Catherine,” she ends up playing along and a “messenger” courtship begins. All this is made even more complicated when Millie and Reid have a one-night stand. Misunderstandings and awkwardness ensue as Millie realizes that as Catherine, she is opening up to Reid in a way that she can’t seem to as Millie.
There was a lot I liked about this novel; I loved the dynamic between the five friends (and the fact that everyone knows that Reid and Millie are perfect for each other, except Reid and Millie). I like how no one character is completely clueless, but they all have blind spots. On the other hand, I wish that Millie’s passion for female serial killers had been worked into the story more. Also, though she describes herself and her colleagues as workaholics, they all have way too much damn time on their hands to be academics. However, bad work/life balance doesn’t help move a romance plot along and why should this novel be any different that every other book, movie, or TV show.
It won’t rock your world but like a good romantic comedy, it’s a fine way to spend a few hours.