Sparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins
Ollie just wants one thing. The girl.
Things haven’t been going so well with Anne lately, though; their relationship has become a perpetual study date, and Ollie’s roommates are starting to worry about him. How to fix things? Why, with a marriage proposal, of course.
Unfortunately for Ollie, his relationship with Anne has run out of gas. Life feels like it’s counting down to one. And that one is the only person in Ollie’s life he really cares about: Ollie. Perhaps, then, he should get over himself. But first he has to deal with Sparks, the irritating little Yankees fan who invades his life in order to “help” him. And while Keith, his best friend, is doing all he can to help, Ollie’s other friend Richie never fails to show up and threaten to ruin everything just by being himself. Never mind all the drama Sparks brings to the party by forcing Ollie to take a job actually helping people in need.
Will Ollie meet the girl? Will it be in history class? On a road trip to Colorado? Can he get over Anne, or should he try to mend the relationship? Should he pursue the new girl Sparks is trying to set him up with? As the strings of the puppeteer tangle with the strings of the heart, only one person can sort out the mess Ollie has made. It seems that the harder he tries, the more Ollie messes things up. Is Sparks a cruel manipulator, or is he really going to help Ollie find his match?
Praise for Sparks the Matchmaker:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. How many "romance" novels do you read where the protagonist is male, or even where the author is male? At first, I thought that was going to be the unique focus of this story.
I was pleasantly surprised, though. The "Sparks" character was a completely unique take on things. Also, I tend to be one of those people who frequently predicts the endings of books and t.v. shows, etc., but I hadn't seen the ending of this story coming. It was a quick and easy read (which was just what I needed right now) but with plenty of intelligence and creativity woven into the story. I think I can say with confidence that even my teenage son would enjoy it, as well as my Mom. Looking forward to the next installment in the series.
Definitely not what I expected from a romantic comedy novel, but in a good way! Can't wait for the next one :)
Ollie was in the process of packing some clean underwear into his bag when he heard Sparks’ voice from the doorway. “Joy still hasn't broken up with her boyfriend. I thought she would have done it by now.”
“What?” Ollie was stunned. “Are you serious?”
“Relax. She's a little harder to read than most people. I really thought she'd have dumped him by now.”
Ollie suspected Sparks was concealing something, but he couldn’t guess it. “That’s just great. I'm picking her up in a few minutes, man! And now I’ll have that looming over my head the whole weekend.”
“It's not a big deal. Seriously. Not a big deal.”
“It is to me. Are you trying to tell me that you guessed wrong on that? I mean, that’s something that seems pretty pivotal and important. You seemed so sure before,” Ollie said.
“Yeah, I was. She's just harder to read, that's all. Nothing's gonna change. Everything is still on track. The boyfriend won't come into play at all… for the weekend, anyway.”
“Huh, it sounds like it’s going to make everything awkward.”
“Oh, I get it. You’re under the impression that you were gonna hit it off this weekend. But you're not going to be doing any kissing or holding hands or gazing into each other's eyes in soft moonlight. You won't be doing anything but getting to know each other. You know, as friends will do?”
“What? Why didn't you tell me that earlier? Sparks, you keep leading me into situations like this, and you don’t tell me anything. You like to keep me in the dark as much as you possibly can.”
Sparks looked at Ollie like he was missing something really obvious. “Listen. I’m not responsible for the things you imagine. I give you information you wouldn’t otherwise have, and I give it to you on a need- to- know basis. You need to be able to act spontaneously in order for everything to come out right. Besides,” he pushed his hat back on his head, “I don't like to be wrong when I'm guessing stuff. I prefer to wait when I give answers… just in case things change.”
“I can’t tell you how reassuring that is.”
“You don't have to accept my help, you know. I could go help someone else.”
Ollie took a deep breath and then let it out as a rumble in his throat. “Ah. You’re probably right anyway.”
This was a fast read for me. The book focuses on Ollie who is heartsick and depressed when his girlfriend not only refuses to marry him but dumps him, too. At first, I did not really care all that much for Ollie as he comes off rather shallow and narcissistic. However, as the story progresses, he evolves into a more decisive, confident person – though still rather clueless regarding relationships. Sparks is a wonderfully unique change agent. I had some laugh out loud moments as he valiantly guides Ollie on his journey to find happiness with the right girl and tolerates Ollie's snippiness and outright tantrums.
Sparks matchmaking abilities entertained and enlightened me. His worldview is refreshing and far-sighted. The ending did not surprise me, as I had a pretty good idea early on where the story was headed, but it was still a supremely satisfying closure - more so than I was expecting. I am ready for more adventures with Sparks!
This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
Author Russell Elkins
Russell Elkins has become a leading expert on open adoption through first-hand experience that he now shares in Open Adoption, Open Heart. Russell regularly contributes to Adoption.com. He also writes his own blog at russellelkins.com to educate others in the struggles and beauties of open adoption.
Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. They had the same goals for their home and didn't want to wait too long before starting their family. However, filling their home quickly with children wasn't in the cards, and they found themselves weighing their options to overcome problems with infertility. Their lives changed dramatically the day they decided to adopt.
Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption.
Russell was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family moved away from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown.
Even after leaving home, Russell always stayed close to his family. He shared an apartment with each of his three brothers at different times during his college career. They formed a band together back in the 1990s and still perform on a regular basis under the name of the Invisible Swordsmen.
After nearly a decade of college and changing his major a few times, Russell received his bachelor's degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later graduated from Ameritech College where he learned the trade of being a dental lab technician. Russell now owns and operates Elkins Dental Lab located in Meridian, Idaho.
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