cover image The Arc

The Arc

Tory Henwood Hoen. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-27677-3

Hoen’s introspective debut asks readers to question their idea of a “perfect” relationship. Ursula Byrne is ready to throw in the towel after her most recent in a string of dating disasters—until a stranger overhears her spouting her woes to her best friend and hands Ursula a business card for the Arc, an enigmatic matchmaking service. Though its procedures are highly secretive, it promises to match clients with “the person—the particular person—with whom you’ll have the greatest chance at lifelong happiness” following a weeklong evaluation. It comes with a hefty fee ($40,500 for women; $50,000 for men—adjusted for the gender pay gap), but Ursula decides to take a chance. After a week of meditation, questionnaires, and near-constant observation, she’s paired with Rafael Banks and they set up their first date. They’re immediately drawn to each other, and the first months of their relationship fly by in bliss. But when their first minor disagreement reveals a potential flaw in the Arc’s calculations, the couple is faced with the harsher realities of love. The long wait for the romance to start makes this unusual genre fare, but Hoen raises some fascinating questions about love and relationships and ends on an optimistic note that will please romance fans. The result is as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking. (Feb.)