After two intense, dead-end relationships, Alison finds herself confused, lonely—and drastically out of touch with the world of modern dating. Refusing to wallow, she signs up for a popular dating app and resolves to remain open-minded and optimistic.
With the click of a button, her adventures begin: On one date, she’s dumped before the first kiss; on another, she dons full HAZMAT gear; she meets a tattooed folk singer turned investment banker, an undercover agent who tracks illegal exotic animals, and dozens of other colorful characters.
Giving them each her signature “pants speech”—her pants aren’t coming off unless she has a real connection with someone—she desperately wants to push past the awkward small-talk phase to find true love. But when she meets funny, sophisticated, sexy Luke and falls hard for him, she can’t be sure whether he’ll stick around or move on to his next match . . .
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"Yes!! Of course I will!!" I squeal.
"I was hoping you would say that."
"Once we're back in the States, we have to talk details! Venue hunting, cake tasting, dress shopping!"
"Go, go, go. Get on your flight. I just wanted to ask before you left for vacation. Bon voyage."
"Okay. July in wine country — I love it! Love you! Bye!" I slide my cell phone back into my carry-on bag and skip across the gate area. "Catherine just asked me to be her maid of honor," I profess proudly.
"Oh, no way. Fun!" Dave replies.
"I bet their wedding is gonna be ahhh-mazing. They're thinking Napa this time next year. I'm thinking maaaybe I'll try to fly out there in the next few months? Help with some of the up-front wedding planning jazz, since she doesn't have a mom to do these things with?"
"I have extra miles you can use. You should totally take a planning trip out there."
"Yay! Oh, that wedding's going to be so fun. We'll stay at a cute bed-and-breakfast, bike through the vineyards ..."
"Get drizzay in the mo'nin'; suit up for the par-tay; make it rain scrilla in da club." Dave, who happens to be even paler and blonder than I am, has a charming habit of awkwardly stringing together and/or misusing rap terms. I never correct him because, why deprive myself of these daily injections of humor?
They call our row to board.
"Et desormais, Mademoiselle Alison," Dave says, "on parle seulement en français."
"Mais bien sûr. On a promis."
"Alors on y va."
"This is gonna get old real fast, huh?"
Dave smiles and nods vigorously.
As we bike through Saumur and Bourgueil, stopping and sipping at vineyard after vineyard, what began as a mild wanderlust for the French countryside swells to an enchantment with the Loire Valley. The vintners are magnanimous beyond all expectation and invite us into their homes, where we sit before fireplaces sampling their wines and noshing on local cheese with their families. In one living room with ancient oak ceiling beams, our hosts show us their framed family tree with great pride, and explain that their great-great-great-great-etc. grandparents have been bottling the same wines — from the same vines — for literally hundreds of years ... five hundred years to be exact. As a parting gift they give us two free bottles to "share with [our] parents in the United States." With repeated "merci beaucoup"s and big smiles, we try to convey our appreciation for their hospitality and generosity.
Coincidentally, Dave and I each spent the summer of our junior year of high school doing a homestay in France. I helped my French family herd cattle and drive tractors on a farm at the foot of the Jura Mountains to the east; he helped his family pick grapes from their small vineyard in Bordeaux to the west. Needless to say, his knowledge of French wines greatly surpasses mine. Though our French is a bit rusty, the winemakers, shopkeepers, and locals don't speak English and are seemingly charmed by our valiant conversational efforts and our horrific accents.
At one of our stops we're taken to the back room, and the winemaker shows us how he bottles the wine. He proceeds to open fifteen bottles for us to taste — which makes for a very mellow afternoon. As our inebriation escalates, so too does our infatuation with the region.
Seated at a café table on the sidewalk of Sancerre, we feast on the most succulent escargots and the most delicate pastries as we watch the world go by. In the farmers' market we load my straw handbag with jar upon jar of black truffles, sold at such a bargain we can't resist filling the bag to the brim. Our promenade through the gardens at the Château de Chambord, dappled in sunlight, is so exquisite we're no longer strolling but practically skipping with glee. Finding ourselves alone in the grand, arch-filled ballroom of the Château de Chenonceau, Dave grabs my hand and pulls me into a waltz. "One day, this could be ours, babycakes," he whispers in my ear as I hum Strauss's "Blue Danube" waltz (the only waltz I know).
The next morning in Chinon over coffee, croissants, and this creamy caramel yogurt that dreams are made of, we chat with the bed-and-breakfast owner about the history of his picturesque home.
"Seventeenth-century homes," he laments. "They may be beautiful, but they are work." He rattles off a list of the modern updates and amenities he has crafted with his own hands. "Je suis trop vieux. Trop vieux," he says, mourning his old age. Making up all the beds every day, rising at dawn to bake homemade pastries, this is beginning to take its toll, he explains.
"Will you close the bed-and-breakfast?" I ask, saddened by the idea that others won't have the opportunity to experience this rustic magic.
"Oh, I listed it for sale months ago," he sighs, slowly stirring his coffee.
Dave and I exchange a look.
"If you don't mind my asking, how much did you list it for?" Dave asks politely.
"Seven hundred and fifty thousand euro."
"And you haven't had any offers?" I ask incredulously. The property sits on seven verdant acres, including groves of pear trees, farmed plots of asparagus, and a swimming pool.
"He's totally undervaluing his accommodations, right? We paid eighty euro; those rooms could easily go for one forty or one fifty! Also, he doesn't even have a website. We'd create a website!"
"Build up TripAdvisor reviews. Maybe take out an ad or two for Google optimization purposes ..."
"I could tutor the SAT from our living room via FaceTime!" I suggest. "I know someone who has a bunch of clients she tutors on FaceTime. With the time difference, I'd still be able to do all the day-to-day upkeep chores: checkin, breakfast, laundry. It would definitely help supplement? ..."
"I think if I worked for another year, or even eight months, in New York until we made the move, I could probably scrape together enough for the down payment."
"Right, but the house still needs some work. We should redo that wonky plaster in the sitting room."
"What's your master's degree good for, if not treating wonky plaster?"
I nod eagerly.
"We could take out a mortgage and then probably pay it off in ..." Dave punches some numbers into the Excel sheet he has opened on his laptop. "Eight years. If we operate at 70 percent capacity for one third of the year. Anything we make above that is profit."
Again, I nod eagerly.
Unfortunately, tempting though these fantasies are, real life calls and we return on our scheduled flight. As we disembark at JFK Airport, our cell phones emit their telltale buzzes, beeps, and vibrations as a week's worth of emails, texts, and voice mails are downloaded.
With his ear to his phone, Dave announces, "Evan and Hannah got engaged."
With my ear to my phone, I echo the news on my end: "Jess and Phil got engaged. She wants me to be a bridesmaid."
"You're en fuego, baby," Dave says. "Miss Popular."
"About to become one of Rent the Runway's top clients." I smile.
As we ride our Uber through the Midtown Tunnel in relative quiet, we each click through and delete the aggregated messages that awaited our return.
* * *
"How was Par-eeeee?" Juan Pablo bellows down the scaffold stairs as I climb up to the ceiling of St. John the Divine on Monday morning. There's something glamorous about restoring the largest Gothic cathedral in the world with my own two hands. There is something decidedly less glamorous about having to ascend and descend 232 feet of vertical stairs a dozen times a day.
"We weren't actually in Paris," I heave, breathless as I complete the eighteen-story climb to his level. "But yeah, France was awesome. I would like to move there, permanently." I toss my book bag onto the scaffold and kneel down to open it.
"But who would glue all these tiles back together?" Juan Pablo asks. "The ceiling would fall down. The cathedral would crumble."
I pull out my sounding hammer. "But can't you just picture me: wearing a beret, cycling over the cobblestone streets on my way home from the butcher's shop, some saucisson wrapped in brown paper sticking out of my bicycle basket right beside my baguette?"
"I won't allow it." Juan Pablo shakes his head solemnly. "You can't leave me until the building's complete." He puts his hand to his heart. In addition to sharing the name of one of the more infamous Bachelors on television, he also shares his flirty charm and boyish good looks.
"Which is never," I point out. "Because Ralph Adams Cram never finished the transept. Or the spires. Or the tower." I fish out my clipboard and a copy of the reflected ceiling plan.
"I'm afraid you can't flee the country until it's done."
"So, like, just another hundred and twenty-five years?" I ask. "Or so?"
"Yep." He reaches over and jostles the top of my hard hat.
"Ow." I stand up. "Is today a good day for me to demonstrate how to readhere the loose Guastavino tiles?"
"As good a day as any. But if so many are failing, why don't we just tear out the ceiling and replace them all?"
"Because these are original Guastavino tiles," I say with exaggerated emphasis. "And, anyway, landmarks agencies, preservationists, my bosses at Restoration Associates, they all flip for Guastavino."
Juan Pablo looks dubious. "They kinda ... look like clay tiles."
"I know. But, in fairness, the more I read about it, the cooler it becomes. It's this whole ... system. You know how Roman arches relied on gravity? Guastavino's arches rely on these interlocking layers of tile." I weave my fingers together to demonstrate. "It was so innovative he actually patented it. There are these awesome black-and-white photographs from the eighteen hundreds that show his crew in the process of constructing them. They're wearing these fancy top hats, just walking on these skinny tile arches, no harness, no guardrails, no structural supports — it's that strong it could bear all their weight!"
"Geeking out again, Alison," he teases. "The ceiling's not much to look at, in my opinion, but if you think of it as —"
"— a structural innovation. Yeah! Totally!"
He pauses. "Are you done?"
I look down, bashful.
"Then it's a bit more awesome, I guess, in light of its strength and composition —"
"See? Who's 'geeking out' now? Anyway, can you help me get the grout injection materials up here? They're heavy. And eighteen flights down." I frown.
"Sure." He nods and radios the message to his crew. "'Grout injection.' Sounds complicated."
"Fancy word for 'glue gunning.'" I shrug and remove my safety glasses from the V of my shirt.
"You conservators, always so fancy."
"Ha." I push the neon orange lenses up the bridge of my nose.
* * *
"Soooo, how'd it make you feel?" my roommate, Nicole, asks over a hurried breakfast at our kitchen counter.
"I don't know. The trip was perfect — we traveled so well together. We always do." I squeeze more honey onto my yogurt. "It's a marathon, not a sprint, right? And it's not fair to compare our relationship to Catherine and Andrew's. Or Jess and Phil's ... or Evan and Hannah's." I sigh.
"Of course. But you can still be frustrated. Are you frustrated?" Nicole asks gently.
Two years ago when our third roommate moved to Chicago, my college friend Cassie and I took to Craigslist to find a replacement. The Upper East Side real estate market being what it was, when we held an open house for our spare eighty-square-foot bedroom in a walk-up with a broken buzzer, fifty applicants showed up. After follow-up coffee dates with our favorite few, Cassie and I concluded that there were many women in New York City we'd like to befriend. But none more so than Nicole. Though our backgrounds are fairly divergent — I grew up on a leafy street in Scarsdale, she grew up in a double-wide trailer in South Carolina — and our tastes in food, film, and fashion are fairly disparate, it often feels like Nicole and I are of one brain. We share political views, senses of humor, energy levels, and opinions on most things social, romantic, moral, and psychological. Even if I hate it, I often wind up following her advice since, deep down, I know it's the same I would give.
"Remember several years ago, when you were waiting for Dave to say he loved you? And Cassie's ingenious suggestions ..." Nicole mimics Cassie's always-chipper, this time instructive, tone. "Hand him a bar of soap when you're washing your face before bed and say, 'I Dove you!' Flirtingly push him on the sidewalk: 'I shove you!'"
We both giggle at the memory, particularly at how earnest Cassie was in her suggestions.
"So now I say? ..."
"Will you carry me?" Nicole asks, brightly.
I chuckle, then groan at the thought, and walk my empty spoon and bowl to the sink.
"Anyway, I think it's like the whole 'I love you' thing. Even when it was patently obvious to the rest of us that he did love you, it just took him a little longer to verbalize it. In certain ways, I think he's just a slowpoke."
A mental image of a cartoon snail carrying a heart-shaped balloon comes to mind, and I smile in spite of myself.
I nod and gather my belongings, grab my keys. "I think I was a little ... I don't know — peeved? — when those voice mails poured in. But," I sigh, "not really anymore. Isn't there some famous saying, 'we get there when we get there?'" I turn to look back at her as I open the front door to leave.
"I think that's from The Incredibles." She smirks.
"Well, yeah. That."
* * *
Around noon on a Monday several weeks later, covered in a fine layer of dust, sweat, and grout residue, I speed-walk into my office in Chelsea. I rush to the bathroom to rinse the gray and brown from my face and hands, pull out my ponytail and rearrange it into a messy bun, and hustle into the conference room.
I slide into an open seat next to my officemate, Deepa. "Do you know what the meeting's about?" I whisper.
She shakes her head. "I'm not sure. But Joanne said it's good news, nothing serious."
"Are you sure?" I ask, puzzled.
I love the field I work in. Not many people can say they've walked on the cornice of Grand Central Station or dangled off the side of St. Patrick's Cathedral. But I can't say I love the company. In a creative field, you'd expect the culture to be energizing (or at least, I expected that when I applied to architectural conservation firms after grad school). Yet the culture in our office is so competitive and cold, it feels enervating.
Joanne calls the meeting to order. "So often our meetings focus on areas that need improvement or on continued education. But we, as a firm, have so many accomplishments that go unsung, that I thought for once it might be nice to take a moment to acknowledge some extremely thorough, well-executed work that's been ongoing for several years now. After — how many years has it been, Margo? At St. John the Divine?"
"Four," Margo says.
"After four years of blood, sweat, and tears, we can finally celebrate the project's transition from schematic design into construction."
"One million tiles sounded," I write it in the air with my index finger. "Frosted on this huge cake. And Margo says nothing. Not a word."
"Bitches be cray," Dave says, shaking his head somberly as he opens the oven door.
"Stop! I'm being serious," I pout. "How could she say nothing?"
"I don't know — wouldn't it have been awkward if she undermined Joanne's toast by giving you credit?" He slides our homemade Sicilian pizza out of the oven.
"I would have. Isn't that the gracious thing to do? The right thing to do?" I fume. "I was late to the meeting because I was sounding the millionth tile this morning!"
"That's whack." He pulls a pizza cutter from the drawer.
"I know, right? A cake? When has Joanne ever done anything nice for anyone? And she calls a staff meeting to give Margo a CAKE? Never mind me coming in, sounding hammer in hand. ... She even talked to me this morning, Joanne, on my cell while I was walking on top of the Guastavino vaults!"
"You got to walk on top of the ceiling vaults? We gotta get you a fedora; you're like the Indiana Jones of the building world, baby! Did you find hidden scrolls?"
"No, but I found a few dead pigeons."
"Did you have to carefully balance on the vaults, like on a tightrope?"
"Actually, it was pretty cool. I was in the interstices between the vaults and the roof. It was like spelunking. The slope was so steep, I actually had to sit and scoot down the vaults on my butt, like a giant slide. Getting back to the top was like rock climbing."
Dave takes two dinner plates down from the cabinet above his sink. The injustice unnerves me again. "She's the one who approves Our timesheets. She knows exactly how many hours, weeks, years I've spent at St. John's. Soundingthe ceiling tiles."
Dave hands me a glass of Chianti. "Babycakes, Joanne's not a nice person. And she's not your biggest fan. This isn't news." He grabs my chin and pulls me in for a consolation kiss. "I'm sorry, but you have no choice but to ignore it. Come on," he commands. "To the couch with you!"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Match Made in Manhattan"
Copyright © 2018 Amanda Stauffer.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
cancerdoc10: Matt, the Hands Man,
bmorecrabcake: Breakup Brendan,
Jsa82: Secret Agent Man (a.k.a. John),
The Evolution of the Pants Speech: Tom,
COboarderPN: Pantsless Paul,
poplockandroll03: Doppelgänger Greg,
ForrestForTheTrees202: Rain Forrest Guy,
WorldTraveler619: Kevin the Bowerbird,
GolfersTan0506: James Takes the Stairs,
myownmaster05: Brooks, the Epistoler,
poplockandroll03: Doppelgänger Greg, Continued,
ga2nyluke: Older Luke,
groovymonday80: Younger Luke,
Greetings from North America: Older Luke,
Hey, Did You Find My Doritos Yet?: Younger Luke,
The Verrrry Slooooow Dater: Older Luke,
Chasing the Free Case of Beer: Younger Luke,
With the Googly Eyes: Older Luke,
And He Can't Even Spell: Younger Luke,
What Part of This Love Boat Are You On: Luke,
nadatsoca: Douchey Dan,
poplockandroll03: Doppelgänger Greg Returns,
exexpatMT: Always Mr. Nice Guy (Marc),
Throwing in the Trowel: Dan,
poplockandroll03: Doppelgänger Greg. Again,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 stars Did I enjoy this book? I did enjoy this book. It was a quick read that kept me interested. Match Made in Manhattan follows Alison for a year after she breaks up with her long-term boyfriend. She joins Match.com and jumps into the dating pool. The book takes the readers on her dates, to her job, and out with her friends. Some of the guys she dated seemed like a lot of fun. While some of her dates didn’t go anywhere, I liked that she remained friends with a few of the guys. I also liked that Alison didn’t jump into bed with every guy she dated. She had her boundaries, and she wasn’t afraid to let the guys know. She was very strong about it. The book includes a number of emails and text messages. This was a fun way to see how she met her potential dates and communicated with them. She had some great text conversations with Greg, which made me chuckle. But the formatting of the text messages made it very hard to read them. I don’t know if it was my copy of the book or what, but most of the words ran together. I didn’t mind that the words were in all capitals, but the lack of spaces between the words made it difficult to read the messages. It took a bit of effort, which took away from the experience. Also, sometimes I felt that the story jumped a bit too much. I was very interested in her job. She is an architectural conservator. This job is fascinating. She had issues with her boss at work, issues where her supervisor was taking credit for her ideas and Alison was getting reprimanded for not thinking outside the box. I really wanted to follow this story line. There was a point where she saved another boss from a different office. Why didn’t this guy stand up for her? Why didn’t she work out of his office? I know this is a book about her dating life, but I really wanted to know more about her work life. Overall, this is a fun read that will give you a few laughs. Would I recommend it? If you are looking for an easy, chick lit read, sure! Check this one out. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I remember when I was first contacted to read this book I was intrigued by the premise. I seem to be able to relate to the characters a lot more because I am seeing and experience the same frustration that Allison finds herself feeling. The dating snafus that Allison goes through are SO GREAT. I loved how she navigated each situation differently and took it all in stride, even if it wasn’t easy. Her patience as a character is truly boundless, and you can tell how she handles herself in the wild situations she gets herself in with these dates. Reading books like this one reminds me that I have high expectations for my own romantic life because of reading. It seems that while everything everything is going to hell for Allison, she still is able to find love and get out of her own head to experience falling in love. She gets to go on wild adventures even when things aren’t clicking for her. I love her spirit. One of my favorite parts of the book was Allison’s job!! I learned so much about art and the architecture that I felt that I was there with her restoring buildings. It was lovely to see the world through her eyes.
I thoroughly enjoyed Amanda Stauffer's debut novel. A book about a young woman, newly-single, looking for love (or at least some interesting new experiences), the story may start with a fairly common premise, but rapidly becomes specific, fascinating, hilarious, and heart-tugging. Alison is no average ingenue. Happy in previous relationships with the casual comfort of trotting over to a boyfriend's apartment in paint-splattered jeans and corporate polos, she is suddenly confronted with the necessity of dating strangers. Precisely observed, the novel had me flashing back to awkward first dates in my past, though the specifics of her dates are inimitable- some cringeworthy and some AMAZING (these are almost never just dinner or coffee dates and the men are as unique in their charms and neuroses as are the actual men of Manhattan). I laughed out loud enough times the first read that my husband banished me to the kitchen to finish so he could sleep and I have already re-read my copy to savor some of the details (things like how she and her friends cope with their own heartbreak which are again unique and specific, but also so recognizable). There was a lot to admire in this book, from the descriptions of low-on-the-totem-pole corporate life to the obvious love the character (and seemingly the author) have for New York in all its incarnations, but I think I most loved the ending. Read enough women's fiction and it sometimes feels like you should be able to write it yourself (and then the character has to.... and then she will... and then...). But aside from the obvious skill Stauffer has in creating images and evoking specific moments, she also has the integrity NOT to follow the traditional arc of these types of novels. I don't want to spoil any part of this book for lucky future readers, but suffice to say I was pleased by the way the book manages to induce laughter, rage, and pangs of empathy without relying on tired shorthand for what makes a good date, a good friend, a good life, and a storybook ending.
I found this book to be a light, easy read, though the beginning was a bit of a challenge. The paragraphs jumped around a bit and left me wondering, “Wait, what just happened?” But once I got through the first chapter, it became easier to read and follow what was going on. Alison’s online dating adventures were amusing, and frankly, I’m grateful that I never had to go through that. I don’t think I could put myself out there like she did. There were times when the story and dialogue felt repetitive, but then I had to remind myself that this whole book is about Alison repeatedly going on first dates and meeting new guys so some repetition is understandable. It just became difficult for me after a while to distinguish one guy from another. But that’s probably what the online dating world feels like sometimes – meeting the same person over and over until you find that one who stands out, the one you remember because he is really unique. I enjoyed the strong female friendships in this book. It’s always a plus when I can read about women being supportive of one another. I also enjoyed the ending. I won’t give away any spoilers. I’ll just say it took me by surprise, and I love it when a book can do that. Overall, I think this book would be a great beach read or ideal for a long car or plane ride. When you find yourself wanting to escape into a light, amusing read, pick up Match Made in Manhattan. Read full review at: KaitsBookshelf.com
My Review of “Match Made in Manhattan” by Amanda Stauffer Kudos to Amanda Stauffer , Author of “Match in Manhattan” for such an entertaining, witty and unique story. The blurb for the story states” The Awkward, Romantic, and Cringeworthy Struggles of Trying to Find The One in the Digital Dating Age.” The genre for this book is Fiction and Women’s Fiction. The story takes place in Manhattan. What do you do when your boyfriend of several years is sort of hesitating, stalling, and indecisive of the next step in the relationship, of you moving in with him.? Your girlfriends are getting engaged, and in many cases you are the “Queen” of being the maid of honor. Well, our heroine Alison decides that it is time to move on in a new direction. Alison has had two long-term relationships and really is not sure what to expect in the dating scene. Alison luckily has the emotional support of her girlfriends, and her family, and signs up for “Match.com” an internet computer dating site. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex, complicated and confused. The author uses a subtle sense of humor in her writing. I love the way Alison is close with her friends, and that her parents and brother have her back. This reminds me sort of “Sex in the City”, with mostly Alison coming to grips with “Match.com” In this book, the author provides chapters of the various men that Alison meets. Alison is a hardworking single girl, and has certain rules for dating. Throughout the different stories, the author gives a feel that we have a front row seat to Alison’s dating life. Alison gets to meet a variety of men, with different personalities. Sometimes these meetings seem awkward, witty, challenging, and the exchanges through Match.com, texting and e-mail are intriguing. Often the outcomes are confusing. and the expectations are not what she expects. I do love the growth and perspective of life that Alison seems to have. I enjoyed the author’s perspective of the new world of online dating. I would highly recommend this delightful and heartwarming story to readers of Women’s Fiction. I received An Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.