LOVE FOR SALE: Price to find your soul mate — $4,000

Can buy me love: Romance headhunter pledges perfect matches for $4,000 . . . By Patrick Roland

The tall, leggy blonde at the corner of the bar sizes up a handsome businessman sipping cognac three seats down.

The two make eye contact and flirt a little as she darts toward him.

But just as he thinks he soon will meet the woman of his dreams, the statuesque dazzler reaches into her pocket and hands him a business card.

“Single Professional Introductions for the Especially Selective,” the card reads. As usual, Roseann Higgins, who fashions herself as a “romance headhunter,” is on the prowl, looking to create a love life for one of her 100 customers, each of whom shells out $4,000 for her services.

So far, Higgins’ six-year enterprise as president and founder of the Phoenix-based SPIES has been a romantic gold mine for her clients, yielding 16 weddings and several other matches made in heaven.

Simply put, she meets people for a living. It doesn’t matter where she might be – a movie, a sporting event, a charity function – all locales are fodder for Higgins’ romance machine – because she believes everyone is meant to find love. Most professionals are just too busy to know where or how to find it, she said.

“Nobody ever teaches us in high school to look for what we want in a relationship – that’s why most of them crash and burn,” said Higgins, who has met more than 2,500 singles at 3,000 functions over the past six years. “People aren’t calling me so they can be analyzed or torn apart. They want me to understand them.”

Higgins’ compassion makes her service work in an industry full of video cameras and impersonal questionnaires. She spends hours getting to know each client, learning about their values and belief systems, while making sure each person is ready for a committed relationship.

“It’s the values, personality and quality of the person that help me make a dead-on match,” said Higgins, who spent 10 years in the Navy, and now ranks as a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve. “I’m not trying to become their best friend. I’m on a mission. When they come through that door, I’m trying to know them body, mind and spirit.”

No matter who Higgins is conversing with, she listens intently. She smiles frequently, her long, blond hair framing her friendly face. She even tells jokes, at times jumping between earthy and risque in a single thought.

ROMANCE: Master matchmaker makes others’ happiness her goal

Higgins’ warmth is what Jim Fagan of Scottsdale was looking for when he and his wife of 24 years divorced two years ago. He had no idea how the ‘90’s dating scene worked, but knew he liked being married and wanted to find stability again.

“All of a sudden, I was thrown out into today’s social world,” said Fagan, a world-hopping business consultant. “Not being in it for 24 years scared the hell out of me. I wanted to go to someone with the expertise to help me locate someone I could spend my life with.”

Higgins introduced Fagan to the person he believes to be his soul mate in July 1998. Jim and Sabrina Fagan were married only five months later.

“There was no hesitation or doubt about marrying Sabrina,” said Fagan, who courted his first wife for five years before they married. “A lot of what Roseann does is bring people together who are compatible based on who and what you are, not just based on activities you may have in common with someone else. We would not have been brought together without Roseann. It’s the best thing I ever did in my life.”

Such high praise is not uncommon for Higgins, who wears the term “matchmaker” like a badge of honor.

“Any time I find a man and a woman and they meet and like each other, it’s a success. No one is greater than the other,” Higgins said. “This is the way romance is supposed to be . . . the knight in shining armor bit, it may be a cliché but it is out there.”

But not for Higgins. The 40-year-old romance maven has yet to find the one for her. With 1,000 people on her mailing list for functions, not only does she have her hands full for others, but she also has pretty high standards for her own possible life mate.

“I’m not saying I’m a hermit or a saint, but sometimes when I’m at these things, I’m just having fun,” said Higgins, who admitted to being ready for her own first long-term relationship. “I’ve never been ready for the right man. I thought I was ready when I was 21, but it took me 19 years to get over that one.”