Monday, February 6, 2017

ARC Review: The Perils of Paulie by Katie MacAlister

Series:     Matchmakers
in Wonderland #4
Pub. Date:Jan. 3, 2017
Publisher:Berkley Jove
Length:336 pages

I am a total fangirl for Katie MacAlister's dragon series... so I wanted to try out some of her contemporary and romantic comedy work as well. The Perils of Paulie is the fourth book in the Matchmakers in Wonderland series, but its the first book of the series that I am reading. It seemed to work fine as a standalone for those who haven't read the earlier books.

Paulina "Paulie" Rostakova is the daughter of the flooring king of California, an extremely over-protective father that used to be involved in the Russian mob in his home country. Still living at home in the family mansion at nearly 30 years old, Paulie laments her boring and uneventful life. I was a little worried that her whining at the beginning of the book would persist and drive me crazy, but it didn't and Paulie grew on me as the book progressed. She is a bit awkward and embarrasses herself quite often, and I could certainly relate to those characteristics. When the chance comes up for Paulie to appear on a reality show featuring a race across the world, she jumps on the opportunity despite her father's objections. I loved Paulie's father - he cracked me up with his paranoia, suspicion and declarative statements.

The reality show was a nice touch, reminiscent of The Amazing Race. The contestants were slated to drive antique cars across the US, Europe and Asia while wearing period clothing, to re-enact a similar race that occurred in 1908. As most reality shows guarantee, there was quite a bit of drama and sabotage embroiled in the production. I liked this portion of the story and it helped keep the plot moving along at a steady clip when we weren't focusing on any potential romance.

Dixon Ainslie is a handsome brit, an estate manager to his brother's grand English manse. Dixon was a bit of a beta male, not usually what I go for, but I liked him well enough and he matched our heroine. I saw him in my head as a Dermot Mulroney a la My Best Friend's Wedding. He was just as awkward as Paulie, and was the complete opposite of a womanizer due to a rocky relationship in his past. He didn't seem to have much ambition to me, though he was a workaholic on the estate. When he was reluctantly talked into the race by a matchmaking cousin, his main reason for going was the opportunity to drive the antique cars. He doesn't quite know what to make of our awkward Paulie at their first few meetings.

Dixon and Paulie started off with several awkward encounters which were cute and caused some light chuckles. I thought their awkward pairing was cute, and they had some entertaining banter. Paulie had the tendency to go overboard, becoming obnoxious, but Dixon kept a cool head and balanced out her behavior.

As this book was about a reality show, I felt like the filming aspects were not developed as fully as they could have been. The cars often did not have a camera team with them to catch the contestants in action... and the cameras inside the car weren't mentioned past the first quarter of the book. I don't know why that stuck out to me, but I found myself wondering how the production company would have enough material to make a full season show.  

This was an entertaining romantic comedy - one that would probably translate well to film or television. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley.