Etta

Review: Take a Chance on Me (ARC)

Expected publication: February 4th 2021

Author: Beth Moran

Meet Patrick Cooper – desperately down on his luck, and head-over-heels in unrequited love with his best friend Bridget.

Meet Bridget’s sister, Emma Donovan – eternally single maker-of-cakes for many a happy couple, whilst never making it down the aisle herself.

Emma has four younger sisters, all of whom are married or getting married, and an Italian mother who can’t understand what is ‘wrong’ with her eldest daughter, who seems to be stranded on the shelf. Despairing of her own ability to find a suitable husband, Emma agrees to be part of a compatibility project to get married at first sight.

Meanwhile Cooper is struggling to get over his crush on Bridget and seems destined to stay firmly on the shelf too. Perhaps it’s time his fate was taken out of his hands…

Is happily-ever-after just about daring to take a chance, or do you need some extra magic to make love last?

Join Beth Moran, Cooper and the Donovan sisters on this life-affirming and uplifting tale of love, family, friendship, and risking it all for happiness. 

I wanted to read this novel as it sounded like a great concept as who would not be intrigued by a blind date marriage. There is a reason why shows like Married at First Sight and 90 Days Fiancé (a show mentioned in the book) are extremely popular as people want to believe that love can work even if you don’t know each other well, or at all. (There is the other portion of viewers that want to watch the train wreck, but that is not who I am thinking of when I am making this comparison.) Both our main characters are down on their luck in love for different reasons, so they each want to take a chance to see if love at first sight can work for them. Take a Chance on me had amazing potential, but, unfortunately, it fell short, for me.

Our “main” character is Emma Donovan, a 37-year-old, single, owner of her own bakery. She is the oldest of five daughters in her Italian-Irish family. Three of them are already married and one of them just got engaged, leaving Emma as the lone single one. She initially is okay with the idea of staying single, but she changes her mind and decides to participate in an experiment called the Compatibility Project that her newly engaged sister just happens to be working on. Emma agrees to it and keeps an open mind knowing that it might not work out perfectly considering she will be getting married to a person that she’s never met before or knows anything about.

She is “matched” with Patrick Cooper, another scientist initially involved in the Compatibility Project. He is tired of living in a world being in a love with someone who is already with someone else and decides it is time to force him to move on. This concept sounded great to me, until you see that he has been in love with Bridget the entire time. Cooper automatically became a character I did not like or care for the moment he agreed to marry Emma while still having feelings for Bridget. It was wrong to me on so many levels and it was a very hard thing to get behind and just did not sit well for me as I tried my best to enjoy any other part of the story. His feelings for Bridget while he tries to make it work with his blind-date marriage to Emma was unnecessary to me as he knowingly involved himself in this mess and just used Emma, a member of a family he likes, for his own selfish gain to try and prove that he can move on from his unexpressed love for Bridget. For me, I understand why an author might want to create this type of drama/suspense for how the story will go, but it seemed just cruel to make it between two extremely close sisters rather than friends or co-workers or any other pair that is not a tightknit family.

We get some glimpses into the two of them after they are married, but the majority of the novel actually focuses on Emma’s family where there are a ton of characters to keep track of. Each sister has their own subplot and it is all told in almost as much detail as the main story. Although it was not impossible to keep up with the voluminous number of characters, it was difficult to become invested in their individual stories. I would have preferred more time dedicated to many of her sisters and what they were going through in their own lives. There was a lot happening and at times you aren’t allowed to become invested in a certain story before the plot moves along to discuss another character. As Emma spends a lot of time either directly talking to or about her family, the plotlines for each sister compete to become the one that the reader wants to focus on. Although I absolutely loved each sister’s story, I would have preferred more time dedicated to our main story about Emma with the sisters in the background as supporting characters and then there are sequels where the time and energy can be focused on them like, I believe, they each deserved.

The points of view switch between Cooper and Emma. As Cooper features mainly himself, with his friend and roommate Ben, there is a lot of writing dedicated to him during his portions of the story, unless he was interacting with the Donovan family. When the writing changes back over to Emma, she becomes lost at times and it feels unfair to her as a character as her family’s subplots take over her pages. I really enjoyed Emma as a character and wanted to learn more about her, which is why it was disappointing at times when she became lost in the shuffle.

Overall, I loved the writing itself as it was relatable word choices and entertaining. In order to not spoil the story, I won’t discuss the rest of the story. I know some readers who saw the ending coming and others that did not. I was one that saw it coming and had zero doubts in my mind. I would suggest reading this novel for the reader to form their own opinions as they may like the parts that I disliked. I enjoyed the author and I am open to reading more from her, but this story just was a miss for me and one that I can’t picture myself ever rereading. The concept was fabulous, but the execution did not align with my expectations. I agree with some concepts that happen to some characters and highly disagree with others that occur.  Again, I would suggest any one curious about the novel to read it for them to (1) find out if Cooper and Emma follow through with the marriage and how their story turns out and (2) to form their own opinions about the aspects that I either liked or did not like.

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley, Boldwood Books, and the author, Beth Moran for the ARC to read and review. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**

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