February 26, 2013

Book Review: The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

At First Sight: Faith Holland ran away from Blue Heron, her family's winery in upstate New York, after her failed attempt to marry her long-time boyfriend Jeremy in what was supposed to be the wedding of the century in their hometown.

Faith had her whole life planned next to Jeremy, someone who was kind and awesome and always made her feel special, but it all went south when Jeremy came out on the day of their wedding and basically left her at the altar.

In the years since, distance has given her a little perspective, not that she's ready to forgive the one person who caused all her heartbreak: Levi Cooper, Jeremy's best friend, who interrupted the wedding and sort of gave Jeremy the nudge he needed.

But when a family emergency prompts her to go back home for an extended period of time, there is no way she can avoid Jeremy, or Levi for that matter.

Levi grew up on the wrong side of the tracks of their small town - his father left when he was little, and his mom struggled to make ends-meet. He was more surprised than anyone when Jeremy picked him to be his best friend, but friends they were and have remained ever since.

He didn't mean to hurt Faith, he just wanted to keep his friend from making a mistake. And now he's happy living in town, being the police chief and dealing with all the disasters big and small of his town, even if half the people that now love and respect him don't remember how they thought he was bad news when he was growing up, just because his family wasn't rich.

He never really thought he would have to deal with Faith again - or Princess Super Cute as he and his high school girlfriend used to call her - but suddenly she's everywhere. And he's remembering that regardless everything else, there was always a small spark of chemistry between them... and that maybe said spark wasn't as small as they both would like to believe. 

Second Glance: Oh, Kristan Higgins... I don't know what to do with you. The Best Man was a good book. It was pretty engaging, I like the setting and I actually really liked Levi and Faith too (though she could be a bit annoying quite often), but it wasn't great.

Part of it is, I think, because there is too much going on at the same time. We got the Levi-Faith attraction thing, Faith new friendship with Jeremy, subplot about older sister's sex life, subplot about Mr. Holland's dating an awful woman, subplot about Faith's grandparents hating each other, subplot about Levi's sister not adapting to college, subplot about Levi's ex, subplot about Faith's epilepsy and the death of her mom - and after a while the book starts to FEEL long.

If some of these things had been trimmed out the book would have flowed a lot better. While I was reading I kept thinking "Just wrap something up, already!" because there was just one thing on top of the other and the other and the other.

The final conflict kind of came out of nowhere too, and I was, like, oh really? seriously? two smart, grown up people are going to fight over THIS flimsiest of all flimsy excuses for a fight? And it's all going to be solved in the next twenty pages? Really? Can I haz Cheeseburger?

Lastly, while I liked Faith and Levi together, I kind of never really saw what they saw in each other other than sexually. I mean you get told they got this past history and whatever, but I have a really hard time believing these two are going to be together forever. And I'm realizing that I actually have that problem with about half of all the pairings in Kristan Higgins' books. 

Bottom Line: The Best Ban is a pretty solid contemporary read, and if you like Higgins style - characters that are Super Quirky Just Because They Can!!!! - and the whole "It takes a village" approach to populating a book, then go for it, you won't regret it. If you're looking for something a little more streamlined, then look elsewhere. Points because the dog was adorbs, though! 

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