What will they think if I do that? What will they say when they see me dressed that way? Will they talk if I date him/her? What will they say? How will they react? Should I do it? Should I just flip them the bird and let them stew in their rumour juices?
Whoever has lived in a small community will know and understand exactly how Terri Rayburn, the heroine of Jude Deveraux’s Met Her Match, feels. After all, Terri has had to live most of her life with the weight of the talk over what her mother, dubbed Summer Hill’s “town whore”, allegedly did when Terri was but a toddler. If Brody, her father, simply became even more clammed and recluse after his wife left him and despite having met Elaine and rebuilt his life, she couldn’t shake the weight of her mother’s actions, even years later, unless she was with the community of Lake Kissel, where she becomes a sort of female Jack-of-all-trades for the residents and visitors, and staying away from Summer Hill as much as she can since returning to the Lake to take on the job that, until she graduated college, was her “uncle”‘s until his untimely demise.
When she returns from a short business trip out of town and finds out that a man, the Man of her fantasies, has taken up residence in her house, she sees red, but ends up letting him stay, so long as he helped her in her duties. The problem is that Nate Taggert, to whom she becomes instantly attracted to, is the fiancé of the mayor’s daughter, a woman everyone in Summer Hill loves. It doesn’t help her that Nate is really everything she had always been looking for in a man: reliable, selfless, as active as she is, smart, and has the build and brawn of the rugby player he used to be. What she doesn’t know is that unavailable Nate is rapidly developing the same feelings for her.
But if it moves forward between them, if Nate leaves Stacy, will everyone again tie her actions to her mother’s? Even if she isn’t at fault? Come to that, why had Kit Montgomery told Nate that he could stay at her house in the first place, when he was looking for a place to stay while in town?
Romance, but not only that
Yes, as most of Jude Deveraux’s books, Met Her Match is a romance novel. However, the main romance part takes “only” three quarters of the book to be nearly completely solved.
What takes the last quarter of the book is a can’t-close-the-book-until-I-know mystery, when Nate, his cousin Rowan Montgomery (Kit’s FBI Agent son), and Terri’s Uncle Frank (current sheriff of Lake Kissel) work together to discover what really happened to Leslie, Terri’s mother.
For Frank is convinced that she did not leave Lake Kissel with another man. Yet, from the moment of Leslie’s disappearance, nobody wanted to listen to him and investigate what might’ve really happened.
Yes, we do have more of the Terri and Nate romance, but it takes the back seat to finding out what happened to Leslie, bringing its share of surprises until the book’s satisfying ending.
Five stars, two times over (first read and this reread)! ✰✰✰✰✰
The story behind the book
If Met Her Match was published last year, it almost did not come to be in the end, as Jude Deveraux was struggling with her then publishing house over her third Summerhouse book, As You Wish. Long story short: they wanted her to change the whole concept of the novel which, after months of frustration, led Jude to finally get an agent and change publishers. It has also put her completion of Met Her Match on the ice for a time.
In the end, now being with MIRA, not only was As You Wish published the way Jude wanted it to, with the three women concept which is paramount to her Summerhouse books, she also finished and published Met Her Match. Those who have read Kit’s and Olivia’s story in both The Girl from Summer Hill and As You Wish will notice when what happens in the latter book comes to pass in Met Her Match, which should’ve come before As You Wish, but with all that happened, it did not. However, Deveraux being a crafty writer, she pulled it off brilliantly.
Is it necessary to read either of the books? Not really. For sure, it does help situate the action and the characters, as well as getting everyone’s backstory, but in the same way as Ever After is not a necessary read prior to either The Girl from Summer Hill or Met her Match. In other words: Met Her Match can be read as a standalone.
Then again, as a huge Jude Deveraux fan, I would suggest you read all four in that order: Ever After, The Girl from Summer Hill, As You Wish, Met Her Match. Because they are all good, satisfactory romances by one of the best of the genre.