Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Best Man

The Best Man
by Kristan Higgins
Published by Harlequin
432 pages
Genre: romance, chick lit
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview.
4 / 5

I have a well documented girl crush on Kristan Higgins. Her books always seem to cure what ails me, showing me happy, quirky families, flawed heroines, hot heroes, and true love conquering all. Fairy tales, yes, but believable fairy tales, the sort that might come true. I regularly loan her books to my high school students, and when the girls do not return the books, I replace them. Between Kristan Higgins and Megan McCafferty, I have spent a fortune raising their sales numbers.

And now we have the latest Higgins book, The Best Man. Her books follow a general formula: girl from a boisterous, nosy, noisy family falls for a boy who loves her, but there are complications, usually on his side. They come together, get broken apart, come together, rinse, repeat. What makes the books so enjoyable, though, is Higgins' writing style. She respects her characters, but with a wink and a smile. They are not perfect, their tales occasionally break your heart, but you will always enjoy a laugh (or several) as they go through their ups and downs.

For this one, the first in a series of sorts set in the same whimsical New England town, our heroine is Faith Holland, a landscape architect who bolted to San Francisco when her wedding was called off at the altar. By the groom. Who announced he was gay. And for which Faith holds local sheriff Levi Cooper somewhat responsible. Not for making Jeremy gay, but for failing to tell Faith his suspicions. Yet as we get to know Faith, we also can see that Jeremy left clues, even if he himself apparently had no idea.

Her career thriving in California, Faith returns home to help her family, who own a winery. The very first person she runs into is Levi, and Faith immediately feels herself propelled backwards to that fateful wedding day. She never got the sense that Levi cared much for her, and that sentiment seems to continue to hold true. Faith has trust issues - not surprising, given how the most important romance of her life worked out - and Levi has problems of his own.

As the two come together, their relationship is beset with various conundrums and problems. Typical of a Higgins book, most of the problems are Levi's, and we feel Faith's frustration in dealing with him. Somewhat atypical of a Higgins book, this is told in the third person. We spend most of our time in Faith's head, but we do get into Levi's every now and then. It helps us understand where each is coming from and what motivates them. Too often in Higgins' novels, the book ends without giving us much clarity or insight into the hero (and I'm looking at you, Malone, in Catch of the Day). Here, we do have a greater understanding of Levi, which makes us care about him even stronger, which makes us cheer for him and Faith even harder.

This is not my favorite Higgins book - that slot is reserved for My One and Only - but I enjoyed the heck out of reading it. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love a little with the characters. And my girl crush on Kristan Higgins remains unabated.

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