HQN, November 2013
What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise?
Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later— Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there...or she would if dating in Manningsport, NY, population 715, wasn’t easier said than done.
Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind.
In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn’t easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love...
My Lengthy Review
I feel like a broken record when I say that I keep thinking that I won't identify with THIS Kristan Higgins book like I did all the other ones. After all, what are the chances she'll write ANOTHER heroine that is so much like me that I can't help but root for her? Or ANOTHER hero so absolutely wonderful, all real men will pale in comparison leaving me sadly single for all time, doomed to hope to fall into a vortex where my life turns into a Higgins plotline?
I said it with Just One of the Guys (A Jock? C'mon, Higgins. I'm a fat kid. I'm not going to identify with her.) and I was wrong. I wept. Bawled like a baby at the end of that book and went through a good box of Kleenex.
I said it with The Best Man (A gal who has a family winery? What can I possibly have in common with her?) I laughed. I cried. I reread the thing until my poor copy is in tatters.
And now, the second book of the Blue Heron Winery Series has released and I'm shocked to say...
She's done it again. Possibly her best book ever.
Honor is the Grace Kelly kind of sister. She's perfect, classy, does everything right and takes care of everyone. From her pearls to her sensible shoes, she's all that anyone would want to be. Her relationship status is even kind of perfect--she's sleeping with her childhood best friend. They kind of fell into bed from friendship, a graceful tumble, and she obviously loves him. He must love her, too, why else would he keep coming back to her? Her best friend is funny, razor sharp witted, and has great hair...all is right and good in her world.
Okay, the blurb tells you all that her guy hooks up with her best friend, so I should have seen it coming, but the very betrayal of it! I've had one of those (the kids, they call them frenemy relationships, or so I've been told. I just called it a poisonous bitch, but I've been there, done that, didn't want the tee shirt) and it was written so well, I could have hugged the heroine and wanted to sit with her and share a glass of wine. "Yes!" I would have told Honor. "Me too! Oh, it's horrible but it does get better!" Like me, poor Honor has no one to even commiserate over her hurt since, shocker, when your best friend betrays you, you're left high and dry with no one to even go to lick your wounds with. I ached for this character and cheered for her resilience.
And then, Higgins wrote her a hero. A hero like no other hero. Oh, my, lord...Tom.
*clears throat and fans self*
Yeah, I liked him.
To add icing to the already decadent and delightful mancake, this guy is madly in love...with a little boy that no one else loves. A horrible teenage little boy who is mean and spiteful and silently sullen and not altogether loveable in return, who has his mother die and father abandons him and there's no real reason for Tom to even care, but HE DOES. This kid has earbuds plugged into his ears and Tom just keeps TRYING.
I really don't think there has been a more perfect hero written in all of history. Higgins, I bow to your brilliance and hand you the crown for best hero EVER. (Yes, there are a lot of caps in this post. Read the book, you'll see why.)
So, Higgins took all of these ingredients, brought back the entire cast from The Best Man (Goggy? Still wonderfully Goggy.), included one of her trademark doggies (Spike, which I had to wonder...nod to the angel from Somebody to Love? Overthinking? Me? Pfft. But maybe...) that is called a wee beastie (this one is a beastie with teeth like staples) and you've got another winner.
The book made me bawl. Repeatedly. It made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly. I fell in love. I cheered out loud. My children are now considering which home to put Mommy in since I'm so obviously moved to emotions by staring at my cell phone. ("Can't you just play Candy Crush like other moms?"- Virg Kid Quote)
Oh, and I have to do a quote from the book. She put stuff like this in there...just outta nowhere...This was about Spike, the dog. So, like I said, I've said she writes identifiable characters on more than one occasion. In this book, she wrote a woman who wants to be loved, just for herself. Who doesn't want that? Just to be picked, just YOU?
So, about Spike, she wrote this little passage and I wept.
"Do you know what Spike did? She growled at him. Five pounds, all beat up and abused, wrapped in gauze and she was defending me from a two-hundred-and-fifty-pound stranger. She loved me from the moment I saw her. No questions asked."
Yeah, that's why people rescue animals. That's what love is sometimes--instant, complete, and no questions asked.
This book? I loved it. Instant, complete, no questions asked. It was funny. It was brave. It had heartbreakingly real moments. It had heart achingly sad moments. It was gritty, it made you feel something. If you want to look at the world and see it just a little differently because of a story, this book and this author is for you. Higgins doesn't write romance, she writes life. If they mean love insofar as the very pulse and essence of what makes us all human--yes, this author nails it, each and every time and she bats it out of the park. You will need Kleenex, I'm not going to lie to you. But your sides will also hurt from laughing so hard. I can't recommend this author loud enough and there's a reason my hard earned book buying money has been going to her for a while. She's on my autobuy list...and this story? Kept her there.
Kudos, Higgins. A very enthusiastic five stars.
A portion of her first week sales from THE PERFECT MATCH will benefit Fisher House Foundation, which provides a home away from home for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.
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