Thursday, 7 March 2013

Book Review: The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

Title: The Best Man
Author: Kristan Higgins
Series: Book #1 in the Blue Heron series
Release Date: 26 February 2013
Number of pages: 432 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: ebook provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, KindleBook Depository US, Book Depository UK

Grade: 3 stars

Novellus bonus!
Goodreads appetizer: Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she's ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family's vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there's some great scenery there....

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief-and best friend of her former fiancé. There's a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it's not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she's having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rose, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk...

My Thoughts: Ever since Caro made me discover Kristan Higgins I've been a big fan of her writing. I just love how emotional and heartfelt her stories are with chuckle out loud humour thanks to her incredibly quirky characters and adorable pets. So when I heard she will have a new series coming I was excited, especially when I read The Best Man's blurb (there's just something about the best man comforting the jilted bride, isn't it?).

We get the whole story of the reason for what happened that day when Faith's dream wedding fell through in little snippets throughout the book: Faith and Jeremy met in high school, and theirs was a love at first sight romance: ever since they laid eyes on each other and started dating they were all that was constant. The townsfolk saw them as the ultimate couple, starry-eyed and so in love, noone ever thought something could go wrong. But it did. Because Jeremy's best friend had known ever since he first met Jeremy that he was gay. Only Jeremy did not know it. It took him more than EIGHT years together with Faith, eight long years of kisses, hugs and making love to finally admit it to Faith on their wedding day, in the chapel but only at his best man's insistence. And that was really confusing. Because normally I would feel outraged and angry with a man for what he did to Faith: letting her dream and waste more than eight years of her life and heart, but Jeremy was really confused and hurting. Their relationship with Faith is a very confusing one: these two are really soulmates, the best of friends, just not of the romantic kind. And that is why I had trouble deciding how to feel about this plot turn. My other problem was that although The Best Man would have been Levi and Faith's romance, I felt that Jeremy got the main role with much more screen time than Levi, the alleged hero.

Levi, who was a wonderful man. The best man, we learn that actually in both sense of the word:

Twice in her life, Faith had been in love. Once with a man so perfect she should’ve known there was something wrong. And now with a man who wasn’t perfect at all, who was stubborn, occasionally irritable, and mildly to moderately constipated when it came to emotions, and maybe had some abandonment issues going on, too, not to mention the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was also the best man she knew. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to help someone. Find a cat on a dark night, drive an hour to do his sister’s laundry, wash a dog covered in chicken poop, let his ex-wife say her piece. Go out in the middle of the night to reconstruct a twenty-year-old accident. Stop his best friend’s wedding when he knew it would only lead to misery…for Jeremy and for her.

A man who would do anything for his little sister or anyone in need, a man who bakes chocolate chip cookies at 3 am to combat the nightmares, and a man that I feel we only got a glimpse of why and how his relationship with Faith happened but not the whole story. I would have liked it if Kristan Higgins gave us more in this department (they only got together at around 70% of the story).

I understand that with this set-up with making the ex-fiancé a sympathetic and kind man Kristan Higgins didn't choose the easy way out by giving an evil ex whom the reader could hate, but in her effort to give us the Faith and Jeremy's whole story to make the reader understand why Faith is today the woman she is I feel that Levi and how his relationship with Faith developed and grew took second seat.

Once again the typical humour we associate with Kristan Higgins' books was there:
Jeremy was much more attractive (Faith always thought of him as an exotic prince, with his swarthy skin and dark, dark eyes), but Levi had something Jeremy didn’t. Heterosexuality, she would learn.

Blue tended to like any living creature, the type of dog who’d leghump a serial killer).
along with the set of quirky and colourful secondary characters, and yet The Best Man left me feeling that something, several somethings were missing.

Verdict: I usually love Kristan Higgins' stories because they are heartfelt and poignant. The kind of books that make you smile through your tears. But The Best Man wasn't the romantic romance I was expecting, it was rather a bittersweet story full of heartbreak romance with not enough smiles to alleviate the gloomy parts. And with a heroine who left me rather lukewarm and a hero who as the best of men had potential but their romance wasn't explored enough, I felt that The Best Man wasn't Kristan Higgins at her best.

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 7/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Cover: 8/10

Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

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