Evie works for Southern Service Paws, helping clients with disabilities match with highly trained service dogs. When she gets an email to meet with the father of Sam, an eleven-year-old girl with epilepsy, Evie is especially eager to help someone with her own diagnosis find independence. The problem is that the email setting up the meeting didn’t come from Sam’s incredibly hot, incredibly rude father. It came from Sam.

Jake has been living in constant fear since his daughter’s epilepsy diagnosis. As a single dad, he’s terrified of getting the everyday parenting gig wrong, on top of keeping Sam safe during her seizures. There’s no room in his life for complications like love, especially after Sam’s mother walked out of their lives and never looked back. When a beautiful woman storms their table in a coffee shop insisting she has a meeting with him, Jake finds out his daughter conspired to bring them together. Evie is too vibrant, too attractive, and Jake needs to make sure she never wants to see him again.

The Match is a feel-good wholesome rom-com an abundance of heart. I’m personally a fan of heavy steam in my romance, and I was surprised to fall so deeply in love with a book that never goes further than make-out sessions on the couch. For me, the characters sell the book. We fall absolutely in love with Jake as parent of the year. He stresses adorably over single-dadhood and doing right by Sam. Evie is a messy, disorganized do-gooder with high competence and a strong uge to help others despite her upbringing among the self-centered elite. Sam is a well-written kid with devious smarts, relatable fears, and a giant heart that pulls the two main characters together. The secondary characters are smart, funny, and adorably bawdy, with strong voices of their own.

There are a few under-developed moments and threads (the antagonists in particular), but overall I found the plot highly satisfying and the characters endearing. It’s earned a high spot in my re-read pile. I’m glad I gave it a chance, despite its high ranking in the “clean and wholesome” category. It proves once again that a good story transcends categories, and we should never put our tastes in too narrow a box.

(I DESPISE the use of the term “clean” to describe books without sex, but that’s a rant for another day.)

Content notice: Book contains emotional abuse by the MC’s parents, including gaslighting and attempted emotional and financial coercion into a non-consensual relationship. Very brief on-page sexual assault (unwanted kiss).

I read The Match (book one of It Happened in Charleston) on Kindle Unlimited. Check with your local library, or visit Sarah Adam’s website to find this and her other work.

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