Review: The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

Publisher: HQN
Where did you get the book: e-ARC
Release date: February 26th

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return bestmanto 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 rosÉ, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk…

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

When I saw The Best Man over at Netgalley, I decided to give the author’s books another chance because I did like the sound of the blurb. Unfortunately, I wished I hadn’t requested this title because I found parts of the book to be very distasteful.

When Faith Holland’s fiance, Jeremy, broke up with her on the day of her wedding after admitting to her that he was gay, Faith moved away from her town and made a career as a successful architect. Faith still hadn’t had any luck in the romance department after making passes at other men who she failed to note were gay. When she arrives back home, Faith meets the hero, Levi Cooper, in one of the most over-used plot scenes in small-town romances by making her race back into town where Levi stops her for speeding (I have read this scene about a MILLION times). Faith has had an intense dislike for Levi because he stopped her wedding to Jeremy. Yes, the heroine dislikes Levi for making Jeremy admit to Faith he was gay before marrying her. And yes, despite Jeremy being gay, Faith would have still married him.

Whilst trying to find love for herself again and settling down to marry, Faith is also matchmaking for her father after a ‘gold digger’ comes into the picture. Faith also has to meet up with Jeremy again and sort out old feelings and hurts. Amongst all this is Levi who always dismisses her with a glance. But when Faith moves next door to Levi, the dislike that’s festered between them for so long changes into something else entirely.

I want to talk about what I enjoyed in the book and then I’ll get to the problematic areas. The romance between Faith and Levi was one of the better romances I’ve read by Higgins in a while. Levi was a typical Higgins hero–he was gruff, silently broody and didn’t show his feelings. Faith was a cheerful heroine whose mission in life was to find love, settle down and do the family thing. I admit it’s hard sometimes to stomach heroines such as this because children are not the be and end all to make your life complete. Higgins has a talent for creating memorable secondary characters that always make an impression, and Faith’s family were an example of this.

What disappoints me about this book is that this would have been a top read but for the distasteful jokes and use of the world ‘slut’ which left the book with a horrible taste. This following section here will contain spoilers, so be warned.

My first raised eyebrow was when there was a flashback to when Levi was a teenager, and how at a glance he knew instantly that Jeremy was gay. I would love to know how Levi had that super power. Secondly, the horrible way in which the author used a transvestite character to be the butt of a joke. That was horrid. Faith is trying to set up her dad on a date, and the “she-male” (I’m actually quoting what was used in the book) is revealed.

There’s also a scene in the beginning of the book where Faith is dating a man, and it turns out he’s married with a kid. The wife arrives to make a scene and I’m pretty sure every word that was uttered at Faith was YOU SLUT AND WHORE. Levi’s sister also makes a casual comment that her roommate is slutty.

I really wanted to like this book but all I could think of is that horrible scene where the transgendered person was called a “she-male.” Why make such a cheap joke and scene aimed at character who, in real life, has to deal with transphobia in their lives. It was a very ugly scene. All in all, I can’t rate this book highly because of what occurred. This definitely will be my last Higgins book, and I can’t say that I’m that sad about it.

I give The Best Man a D.

Comments

  1. says

    Those are sure issues I would have with the book as well. Did she know she was dating a married man? No? Then he is the slut, not her. And keep going after gay men? Really?
    And I also dislike people who think everything important there is in life is being married with children. Thanks for the warning about this book.

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  2. says

    I don’t mind that the heroine was all about getting married; all of Higgins’ heroines are like that, so I wan’t surprised, and having read all her books I knew what I was getting into.

    But the careless transphobia really got to me. I can even somewhat ignore the comments about the slutty shoes and the slutty friends (although those I found jarring as well) but using a transvestite character for a cheap laugh was crossing the line. And come on, can’t you find a more original joke?

    Also, I’ve been thinking about her ex-fiance, and maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I feel like by making him stay in a town where apparently there are no other gays and where the people are welcoming but still see him as a novelty, was almost like punishing him. As I said, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the whole situation with him didn’t sit well with me, and I agree that Levi had obvious superpowers, because how can a person guess someone else’s sexual orientation just by looking at them?

    Great review. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who had these issues with the book. It’s a shame, because this is Higgins’ best 3rd person book, and it’s the 1st one in a new series, so I’m not sure I want to read another book set in the same place, regardless of how much I enjoyed some parts of this book.

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  3. says

    So let me get this straight. The premise for the conflict is that Faith hates Levi because he kept her from marrying a closeted gay man? Because being married to someone who is conflicted in his feelings and presumably in denial is a MUCH better idea. And she-male? For laughs? No one in the production chain noticed and thought this was a bad idea?

    But then, this sounds like it hits every square on the gender bingo card. Thanks for taking one for the team.

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  4. Lou says

    @Brie: Did you find a lot of the jokes were forced? Like the sweater getting swallowed down the toilet? That had me rolling my eyes.

    I don’t understand why the author felt she had to make a cheap joke against the character. It’s not as if it was integral to the book. The whole scene felt as if there were children giggling, and going nudge nudge, look at that person. I’m surprised the editor didn’t go to the author and say, perhaps this scene needs to be cut with the transvestite. The carelessness worries me because the editor and the author clearly saw nothing wrong with it.

    Regarding the ex-fiance, I have no clue why he stayed in that town. Levi’s beard goggles also made me roll my eyes very hard.

    I’ve definitely broken up with Higgins’ books. And like you said, this was one of her better romances between the hero and heroine.

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  5. says

    @Lou: No one noticed because of ignorance and carelessness. It is hurtful and offensive even if it’s presented as comedy, perhaps even more so.

    And yes, some situations felt forced or too convenient.

    @Sunita: It has two of the most overused plot devices ever: heroine’s love of her life leaves her for another man (or in this case because someone outs him as gay) and a character goes on a blind date with statuesque woman who ends up being a man — cue to everyone making fun of the character for not noticing his date was a man.

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  6. Robin says

    I, too, was disappointed with this book. I have been a Kristan Higgins fan since “Catch of the Day”. I could not finish this book. This might be my last Kristan Higgins book.

    ReplyReply

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