"Match Me If You Can" is a delightful book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, full of memorable characters and bright, witty dialogue. It is the latest entry in her "Chicago Stars" football team series of books and features characters from the other books in the series (such as the Somerville sisters and their husbands) as secondary characters.
The heroine of the story, Annabelle Granger, is a charming but rather hapless redhead--a chronic underachiever born into a family of super-achievers. When Annabelle inherits her grandmother's matchmatching business ("Matches by Myrna") she changes the name to "Perfect for You" and sets out to make her new business a success. The key its success, she believes, is to land gorgeous Heath Champion, bachelor extraordinaire and wealthy sports agent, as a client. Heath is looking for a wife and has engaged a rival matchmaking service ("Power Matches" run by the ruthlessly perfect Portia Powers) to introduce him to likely candidates since he is just *too busy* with his work to look for a wife on his own. Annabelle goes after Heath's business with a vengeance, but cannot help taking a few jabs at his over-inflated ego. Heath is looking to the "perfect" woman to complement his "perfect" life. (Annabelle sums up his requirements for a wife: "Athletic, domestic, gorgeous, brilliant, socially connected, and pathologically submissive.") Heath is only willing to meet the "candidates" initially for a 20 minute interview and insists that Annabelle be present for all the first meetings. Of course none of the candidates is ever as perfect for Heath as Annabelle herself, but it takes him absolutely *forever* to figure this out.
Annabelle is a charming heroine--smart, warm-hearted, vulnerable and fun-loving. Heath is much harder to warm up to as a hero. His nickname is "The Python" since he squeezes money out of the team owners and sponsors for his clients, and he is suitably cold-blooded for that name to be appropriate. He is gorgeous, intelligent, driven and rich, but also a double cell-phoned workaholic full of smarmy charm and shallow emotions. I found it surprising that more of the "candidates" did not reject *him* after the first 20 minute meeting. Heath realizes that he is attracted to Annabelle but dismisses her as potential wife material since she does not fit his preconceived ideal of the beautiful, polished, perfect spouse. He has absolutely *tons* of emotional baggage to come to terms with before he is able to recognize his true feelings for Annabelle.
The dialogue is sharp and witty and it is a delight to revisit characters like Phoebe Somerville Calebow (heroine of "It Had to Be You"), the owner of the Chicago Stars and Heath's arch-enemy since she was forced to cave in to his hardball negotiating tactics early in his career as a sports agent. (Heath says at one point: "It's been seven years, Phoebe. Don't you think it's time we bury the hatchet?" To which Phoebe replies: "As long as the blade ends up in the back of your neck, I'm game.") The plot moves along fairly well, but it takes a long time (I mean, a *long* time!) for Heath to realize that Annabelle is the right woman for him and his epiphany when it does occur seems startlingly abrupt.
In summary, "Match Me If You Can" is a fun and fast read with the type of memorable characters and sparkling dialogue typical of Susan Elizabeth Phillips.