The Numbers Man

The Numbers ManBy Pat Muir

Publisher: PMBOOK
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Humor
Source: Author

Pat, a 63 year old former geophysicist, desperate for romance, believes the only way to find a good woman on the Internet is to meet lots of them. He numbers them since he remembers names poorly. Beth, #57, goes out of town for a long time so he takes up with Donna, #59, a lovely attorney. Meanwhile, his employee’s gorgeous young wife, Ruby, keeps hitting on him. Life becomes even more complicated when he meets Joyce, #61, a TV chef, who considers him a womanizer. Is the advice he gets from Sonia, his book promoter, selfless or self-serving?

Goodreads Summary

I admit I approached this with a bit of a skeptical eye.  A man writing romance, even comedic romance?  I know, I’m a sexist, but I wondered even with the premise, what kind of book I was letting myself in for.  The answer was that this was a surprisingly nice blend of self-deprecating humor, an interesting story and a rather sweet bit of romance that I wasn’t expecting.

Of course, the question pops up, how much of this is autobiographical, since the narrator and author share the same name; there are references later in the book to him writing a book about his adventures in internet dating, along with a promise not to use real names for the women involved.  It didn’t matter to me and there were only a few instances when I felt yanked out of the story enough to think about it.  My issue with the book was generally technical: the story is divided into dates within chapters, and sometimes the daily entries are literally nothing worth writing about.  I know they contribute to the diary style and remind the reader that the fictional author is out plugging his book, but they ended up cutting into the more enjoyable sections of the story for me.

Muir (the narrator) has turned to the internet to find his Ms. Right, but in two years, has so far come up blank and has amassed a string of nameless women to prove it (he keeps track of them by number).  Some of my favorite sections early in the book were devoted to his sorting of prospective matches, decoding “match speak,” and mentally making notations about past matches, reminding himself why he downgraded certain numbers.  He eventually settles with #57, Beth, an insanely annoying woman.  Putting up with her for the sex, Muir eventually makes a sort of game out of timing how long it takes her to order dinner (generally it’s around twenty plus minutes).

In the meantime, he’s dodging advances from his employee’s lusty, busty and very young new wife at the condo complex he owns with his ex-wife.  Supposedly running her “hairdressing” business out of her place while she’s also trying to learn to keep the books for Muir, Ruby has a bad habit of disappearing into another man’s apartment or of enveloping Muir into one of her trademark boobalicious hugs.

Muir also has a growing professional relationship with acerbic cookbook author Joyce, who first traded jabs with him on a radio program.  She thinks he’s a misogynistic jerk and has no business putting out anything resembling a cookbook; he was happy to poke back at her a tiny bit for the sake of some good ratings and book sales.  Now it looks like they may be thrown together for a new project and she’s not thrilled about it.

The story is generally divided into three co-existing sections: Muir’s comedic attempts to avoid Ruby at the condo complex, his head-banging relationship with ditzy Beth and his book promos and working relationship with Joyce.  Each eventually presents a set of choices Muir must make, and unfortunately he hasn’t exactly given up on his little number game either.

Aside from the minor issue I had, this was a fun read.  Muir the author obviously has had many of the experiences in the book, able to point the joke right at the heart of the situation.  It was also a very nice little light romance; Muir the narrator is that guy just looking for love and you can’t help hoping he’ll find it before the end of the story.

My Rating: B-

Barbara

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