Review: The Best Man, by Kristan Higgins
Title: The Best Man (Blue Heron #1)
Author(s): Kristan Higgins
Rating: 3.5 stars
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 rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.
I don’t know if it’s because I read the Blue Heron books out of order (having read #2, then #3, then this one,) but so far The Best Man is my least favorite of the series. I think Higgins is just getting better as she goes. (Which — good on her!)
First, the good:
- Higgins did a good job of making Manningsport feel like a small town, with a gossipy prologue written in first person plural which I absolutely loved and constant references to tribal knowledge of the past. It made me very glad I left the small town I grew up in!
- Faith’s ex-fiance Jeremy was portrayed without resorting to gay stereotypes or cruelty. Watching the relationship between Faith and Jeremy blossom throughout the book was very satisfying.
- I kind of love that Faith is an epileptic–it’s rare that we get to see a heroine with a disability like a seizure disorder, and Higgans did a great job weaving it into the plot.
- Levi’s backstory made complete sense and I loved his development throughout the book. (For some reason, I identify more with Higgins’ heroes than her heroines… not sure what that says about me.)
- Having read the books that come after this, I liked that there are certain characters who are antagonists in this novel but main characters in future novels (cough–Jessica Dunn in Anything For You–cough.) So fun.
- The twist at the end came as a complete surprise to me and totally made the book worth reading for me.
Now the not-so-good:
- Faith’s obsession with stalking her potential dates at the beginning of the book seemed weird. Like, I get that Higgins heroines are bad at love, but camping outside men’s houses before you even go out with them and then asking them how many women they’ve slept with on the first date is just completely inappropriate.
- Higgins insists on telling us (but never really showing us) that Faith is “Princess Super Cute,” ever concerned with making everyone happy and doing community service….
..but other than Levi remembering Faith that way from high school, Faith never really struck me as a do-good type. She left her family, went to San Francisco and started a business, then moved home and started raking in the cash. There was never a mention of charity work, never any donations, nothing that would lead me to think she’s driven by guilt to make the world a better place.
- Levi seems like he would NEVER END UP with Faith. Never. At the beginning, he doesn’t like anything about her beyond her boobs, but by the end he’s mysteriously in love with her? He never says what he likes about her, there’s never a demonstration of how she’s contributing to his life, it just kind of happens.
- MY GOD, THE SLUT SHAMING. From “Jessica Does” to Levi randomly lecturing Faith’s niece on not getting knocked up, this book managed to make any sexual activity out to be completely unacceptable… which is weird, since Colleen O’Roarke is a known player and she seemed to get a pass, and her own book. Everyone’s a slut it seems, and not the fun / ok kind of slutty.
- Finally, the whole transphobic scene towards the end was just not okay on any level, and I’m surprised it made it past the editors at Harlequin HQN to be honest. This book was published in 2013, and unless Higgins was trying to make a statement about the narrowness of small town perspective, it was completely cruel and added nothing to the plot.
So, to sum up: Levi and the twist ending were great. Faith and the “she-male” scene, not great. Overall, I’d give it 3.5 stars.