The title of this NEXT release by Elda Minger is fairly self-explanatory. A thirty-something group of women who are in a book club together, and are mutual friends, hate the dating scene. Each woman in the group wants marriage – or a long-term relationship with an appropriate male, at the very least. But, they don’t want to suffer through dating again, having been there and done that for years now. Each of the women is in a different situation in the love life department and none of them is happy. Some are divorced, some are single and just plain lonely, and some feel hopeless and angry from being betrayed too many times.
The novel is told from the perspective of Eva, a childless, single woman who owns her own catering business. Eva wants marriage – but she doesn’t even have a boyfriend, so she is starting from ground zero, so to speak. Eva is a childhood friend of Michelle’s, who is a professional makeup artist and beside herself with grief when she finds out that her husband is divorcing her because he has fallen in love with a 22-year-old. Basically, Michelle is getting traded in for a younger woman and, understandably, she is shocked and deeply hurt by her husband’s behavior after twenty years of marriage.
Frances has been divorced for two years now and has yet to get into the rat race of dating. Ariel is the tough one of the bunch; she has a history of dumping her man of the moment if things get too personal, although she secretly pines for the closeness and companionship of a suitable man. Wendy, a beautiful model, is stuck in a relationship with a married man (who failed to disclose that he was married until Wendy had been dating him for six months), and despite her beauty, she is unable to break off the relationship that has been going on for eight years.
During a book club meeting, the group decides that they are going to hit the dating scene and give it a fair shot, despite their trepidation. Michelle offers to use her talents as a makeup artist and proposes the idea of a makeover for each of the women to give each of them a new look that will help them snag an appropriate man in no time (and to hopefully avoid the laborious dating process). There is one woman who is not part of their group, but she is a good friend of Eva’s. Her name is Anna, and Eva and Anna have been close for a long time. Anna’s daughter is pressuring her to move into a less expensive retirement home and Eva intervenes by insisting that Anna move into her home. Eva has a soft spot and already has Michelle and Wendy staying at her house, which has become a sort of respite home.
After a thorough introduction of each character by the author, who does a good job of fleshing out the characters, the “girls” proceed with their plan and hit the dating scene. Michelle’s contacts with the stars (the story takes place in Los Angeles) give the women a chance to meet some exciting prospects, including high profile movie stars. Depending on each woman’s circumstances, some of the women are ready to immediately start dating, while Wendy and Michelle are in circumstances that require baby steps. Eva’s elderly friend, Anna, adds poignancy and depth to any otherwise fluffy book by offering her viewpoints on life and love. Anna is an important character in the novel and saves it from being too frothy of a read.
The I Hate To Date Club would make a fun summer beach read with its prevalent“girl power” theme. The book starts off as a fluffy read and remains that way for the most part, but it becomes more substantial as the characters develop further and their lives (and relationships) evolve. While I found the ending to be a bit pat, I enjoyed the book simply by taking it for what it was – a light yet thoughtful read.