Summary (from the publisher): Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss.
Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.
Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Contemporary romance or adult contemporary has been the name of my reading game over the past few weeks, so I’ve been on the hunt for any fun & flirty books in those genres. Between enjoying Hannah Orenstein’s Love at First Like last summer (it wasn’t my all-time favoriteeee read, but I thought the premise was executed well!) and my excitement to pick up her recent release, Head Over Heels, I decided to read her debut, Playing with Matches. While I do still have to read and have high expectations for Head Over Heels, I can say for now that Playing with Matches is my favorite book by Hannah Orenstein because I am absolutely obsessed with it!!If you were just as obsessed as I was with Indian Matchmaking on Netflix this weekend, this book is a must-read!
I also just want to take a little moment to say that Hannah Orenstein has some of the BEST covers for her books! She recently did a Q&A on her Instagram story talking about how her publishing team makes sure that her book covers, colors & illustrations included, all compliment each other and really match the feel of each story.
Playing with Matches follows aspiring writer and recent NYU grad, Sasha, who finds herself working as a matchmaker in her first full-time, post-college job. I know that there are a few books out there with characters as matchmakers, and I have read a few books where the characters are set up, but this was my first time reading a book with a main character as a matchmaker. Playing with Matches felt like such a current take on this job role, as Sasha uses all kinds of real dating apps to help her clients find potential partners. The book also takes place in NYC, so it was really fun to experience Sasha hoping all over the city to help her clients and made for the perfect setting for this kind of story. It added to the book’s sense of charm and adventures in dating.
Playing with Matches’ premise was executed so well! I found myself really engaged in the story and was absolutely fascinated with how matchmaking works. I know that obviously Hannah Orenstein’s take may not be 110% accurate (although she did work as a matchmaker), but it really made me think a lot about big questions like how we use dating apps and what makes us look for certain characteristics – or which ones to avoid – in partners. Finding matches for her clients wasn’t easy for Sasha, but it was really fun and intriguing to see what worked and didn’t work for her clients.
While Sasha is out basically hunting for the perfect people for her clients, her own relationship is in a not-so great place, with her college boyfriend basically working as an investment banker 24/7. I didn’t expect her relationship with Jonathan to turn the way that it did, but I think it paired well (I’m the worst) with the pressure Sasha in-explicitly faces from her parents’ failed relationship and how she seeks to find perfect matches for her clients even if she’s not in the perfect relationship of her own. I also loved her relationship with her roommate and best friend, Caroline. It really captured the complications best friends may run into when one of them is seeing someone, but I loved their honesty and the scenes where they’re still able to get into trouble & fun together post-college.
I loved Sasha’s client, Mindy, and all the drama surrounding Mindy, Adam, and Sasha. I knew as soon as something happens – no spoilers – during a shopping scene between Mindy and Sasha how Sasha’s relationship with Adam was going to go down. I think the turn of Sasha’s relationships both with Jonathan and Adam made for a lot of fun and entertainment, but I did love the way the book ended and feel like it truly marked Sasha’s growth as a character.
Overall, Playing with Matches is the perfectly entertaining and fun read to bring with you to the beach or pool this summer! This is a great read for readers who love coming-of-age stories or even new adult reads with less of an emphasis on the romance, romance (sorry, not too much steam in this one), but more on character growth and a well executed plot & setting.
Have you read Playing with Matches? Have you read Love at First Like or Head Over Heels? Share in the comments!