imperfect matchRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novella

Lee Kennedy can’t believe his sister is getting married tomorrow; the whole system seems soulless and overwhelming. Lee is approaching 30, so he isn’t going to be able to push his own marriage off much longer. He will soon need to trigger the Algorithm, the system that will match him with his destined mate. But Lee knows he will never be ready and he is stalling in school as long as he can.

When Lee meets Roman, one of the wedding waiters, he gets a chance to see life as the other half live. Roman is from the Taxable District, the wrong side of the tracks. Benefit Boomers like Lee should want nothing to do with a guy like Roman, but Lee is intrigued by the man who lives so much more on his own terms, compared to the structured and stifling life Lee is expected to live.

With Roman’s help, Lee begins to take steps out of his structured world, to learn what life is life for people in the Taxable District. And even more, to explore his attraction to men that he has only just allowed himself to admit. Lee can just begin to see what life could be like for him, being with a man, having the freedom to choose his own path. But Lee’s life has been predetermined for him and he can’t even imagine how to begin to break from it. Yet the thought of the life he could have is tempting Lee to make changes for himself in ways he never expected.

Imperfect Match is a really engaging story that follows Lee on his journey of self awareness and discovery. Lee’s life is filled with rigid expectations, the biggest being that he will trigger the Algorithm and marry the woman the system chooses as the best match. He has been stalling as long as possible, but time is running out. Meeting Roman suddenly gives Lee a glimpse of the life he could have. No, living in the Taxable District isn’t easy. People are poor and life is hard. But they have a freedom to choose so far beyond anything Lee could even hope for in his own life. I really enjoyed seeing Lee open his eyes to this other part of his world, a part that he has mostly ignored but now sees could be the way to happiness for him if only he is brave enough to grab it. So I really liked Lee’s journey and the message that goes along with it.

I think Castillo Price has created a really interesting world here and there are a lot of clever details that I liked. My biggest struggle with the book, however, is that I feel so much is still left unexplained. It is like we get the outline of the world building, but not enough filled in to really understand it all. I got that the story takes place in the future, but when exactly is unclear. Something bad has happened, a plague of some sort I think, and governments have sort of fallen apart. But I had no clarity as to what happened or what political system there is now. And most importantly, I never really understood the structure of the Taxable District and the Benefit District. We know they are the two sides of the tracks, but why are people divided that way? How do they end up in one or the other? And what are all these rules that go along with life in these two regions? I just never quite got a handle on the world building, so I found myself with constant questions and I could have used more here.

This story is definitely about Lee’s journey, but I really liked him with Roman, and the way meeting Roman helps open up Lee’s eyes to what could be. The romance here is not the focus and the guys are only actually together a few times before the end of the story, though Roman clearly makes a big impact on Lee. We do get an HEA (with help from a short time jump), but I would have loved to see a bit more relationship development to get them from here to there. That said, I did really like these guys together and loved the way the story ties up at the end.

This story really combines a lot of interesting themes. It has an almost post-apocalyptic feel, at the same time as it seems like a coming of age story. I really enjoyed Lee’s journey and liked him and Roman together. I think the world building could have been fleshed out more, as there are so many really interesting ideas here that just needed more explanation. But overall, I definitely was intrigued by this one and found it very engaging.

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