THE PERILS OF PAULIE
A Matchmaker in Wonderland (Book 4)
by Katie MacAlister
Mass Market Paperback & Ebook: 336 pages
Penguin Random House/Berkley (January 3, 2017)
Category: Contemporary Romance
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book from @berkleyromance. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
A fast and furious new Matchmaker in Wonderland novel from the New York Times bestseling author of Daring in a Blue Dress.
Sheltered by a strict father, Paulina Rostakova spends her time working for the family business and yearning for some grand adventure. So when contestants are needed for a reality show reenacting an historic 1908 car race across the US, Asia, Russia, and Europe, Paulie jumps at the chance to get behind the wheel of a vintage car.
Dixon Ainslie has nothing to lose by entering the race, except the rut he’s been in since the death of his girlfriend years ago. But as other racers begin to drop out, the producers want Dixon to join forces with Paulie—on one condition: they have to pretend to fall in love and get married.
And as their scripted courtship takes off, Dixon and Paulie will have to take a detour into reality to turn the sparks flying between them into a passion with staying power…
Back when I started blogging I enjoyed some of Katie MacAlister’s earlier books in the Paranormal Romance genre. They were funny and sexy in much the same way Mary Janice Davidson’s were. I found I was less enamoured of later books in either that, or the contemporary genre.
What I find to be MacAlister’s great strength AND weakness is the ridiculous, outlandish even, nature of her stories and characters. While the two characters most central to this novel are within the bounds of what I would consider within the bounds of “normal” many of the other characters range from a little off to “Yo! We need a straitjacket over here!” I have found the key with the ridiculous is how far it goes before it is just too silly or over the top. Sometimes the characters or situations are just too blah to be in a farce and sometimes they are just too far over the top to be at all genuine. In regards to this book, I felt MacAlister is on-target most of the time.
MacAlister’s strength is to take the ridiculous and run with it without losing all sense of believability. Here she reaches the finish line without collapsing or losing interest in the race.
One character in this story is a young woman whose heroine is Nelly Bly, a female journalist at a time when women did not engage in such a profession. I loved to read about Nelly Bly when I was a kid. Paulie is still enthralled with Nellie Bly as an adult. Nelly Bly takes Jules Verne’s novel, AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS to heart and travels around the world for her newspaper the New York World in 1889.
Verne’s book seems to endlessly spawn adaptations in films, TV events, and books and other print formats (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Around_the_World_in_Eighty_Days).
One movie inspired by both Verne and an early film, THE 1908 NEW YORK TO PARIS RACE (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1908_New_York_to_Paris_Race) was THE GREAT RACE a 1965 film with Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk, and more. It is the latter on which the reality TV program featured in THE PERILS OF PAULIE is based.
This is clever as I have not seen this theme in current, contemporary fiction. And, it created a nostalgic feeling for me as I actually remember when the inspirational movie THE GREAT RACE came out.
Paulie is also an adult-child forced to remain living at home by her overbearing, outlandish, Russian father. It’s funny that when I was growing up, Russians were portrayed as either evil, communist spies or the oppressed; now they are almost always portrayed as gangsters or other criminals. Paulie’s father was a gangster but now, on the West Coast of the USA he is a very successful businessman. He is grotesquely overprotective of Paulie who is approaching 30!
Dixon is also kept back somewhat because of his role in his unconventional, British, noble family featured in all of these stories. He is also kept back by his tragic romantic history and the abusive nature of the fiancee who made him her victim.
I enjoyed this story more, perhaps, than the other stories in this series. It was a little more engaging, perhaps because of the nostalgic hooks. It was a good, light read perfect for a vacation.