Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
Don is a socially awkward geneticist working for a prestigious university in Melbourne, Australia. His best friend, Gene, is an overweight fellow professor who has an open marriage and tries to bed as many women from different and unique nationalities as he can. Don counts Gene’s wife and their two children as his only friends. His manner of speech and way of participating socially has given Don a way to be disconnected to the world around him. He abides by his schedule, which he has down to the minute.
Don decides, at age 39, that he needs to find a wife. He’s never been in a romantic relationship before, though he is not looking for romance, just companionship. Being a scientist, Don believes that the best way to obtain a wife would be to make a questionnaire that asks for important compatibility questions, like do you smoke and what is your IQ. He decides to put himself out there with the questionnaire, immediately crossing women off his list as soon as they answer something differently than what he wants.
Enter Rosie, who is completely inadequate for the Wife Project, but Don is fascinated by her. Don’s in the unique position to help her with what Don calls the Father Project, which is him helping Rosie locate her father from a class of hundreds that her mother attended medical school with by using his genetics knowledge and his lab at school to test DNA. As you can imagine, there are quite a few obstacles and issues that ensure that Don and Rosie are thrown together often. They become friends, though they both deny any romantic potential.
Don is very reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, blunt and unapologetic, but loveable and someone I rooted for. He was never someone that I didn’t like or understand, despite not having the same social inadequacies as him. This is because the author utilized the first person narrative, thus making Don’s actions pretty straightforward and logical.
This is probably one of the sweetest, most light-hearted books I’ve read this year. I would definitely recommend it because they characters are well-rendered and the plot is fun. The story was funny, but I never laughed at Don, but at the situations he found himself in. It’s a romance in the non-traditional sense. I love non-traditional romances because I read so many traditional ones that it’s nice to go off course every once in a while, not knowing if there will be a happy ending or not. Don’s quirks are so that it is entirely possible that he will not be able to work through his issues in order to have a happy ending. Regardless of whether he gets his happy ending or not, it was a great story. I am looking forward to the sequel that was promised on the author bio in the back of the book.
P. S. You can go to the author’s website to take the quiz to see if you are compatible with Don!