Itís Jess Monroeís birthday, and her friends present her with their idea of the perfect gift: a subscription to an online dating service. For most single men and women, this type of gift is about as welcome as a Weight Watchers membership for a friend who could benefit from the loss of a few pounds. Fortunately for us, author Jane Moore decides that her character will take the gift in stride and delve into the world of online dating. It is Jessís decision to accept the gift (begrudgingly, of course) that sets the foundation for Love @ First Site, a warm, funny and entertaining read that tackles the new phenomenon of singles searching for love and companionship on the Internet.
While the theme of a thirty-something single woman searching for love is central to this novel, Jessís status is not forced upon the reader, nor is it presented as a traumatic situation in need of an immediate fix. Rather, Jess Monroe (and her friends and family) accept the reality that a woman can put forth a concerted effort to meet Mr. Right without abandoning other all components of her life that may be just as important and in need of attention. Yes, this is a story about the search for a soulmate, but it is also about the struggle to maintain and build relationships with family and friends and to pinpoint and accept those that may no longer be worth the effort. It is also about the pressure to establish a career in a competitive marketplace and to develop the strength to accept challenging circumstances over which we have little control. It is Jessís steadfast commitment to achieving a healthy balance among these demands (along with the sense of humor she takes with her on each and every on-line date) that makes her such a welcoming character and enables the reader to develop a genuine interest in her ultimate success.
Make no mistake about it, this is a book about dating. Jessís online introductions and subsequent meet-and-greets are apparently realistic and hilarious portrayal of this new forum for meeting potential mates. Everything from the drafting and posting of an ad, to attempting to assess the accuracy of the ads of others, to developing a list of criterion to warrant an old-fashioned face-to-face encounter is covered in depth. In addition, the drawbacks of technologically-assisted introductions are detailed as the story explores (and inevitably exposes) the disappointment of both the men and women looking for love on-line. The fact that everyone emphasizes their strengths and downplays their weakness and then chastises others for doing the same provides a great deal of entertainment and will likely elicit an occasional sense of empathy from readers brave enough to admit having been there and done that.
Unlike many other books in this genre, this novel offers a full picture of a characterís life. True, the central character happens to be looking for love, but rather than defining her existence, it merely adds to the list of reasons this novel is worthy of praise.