Saturday, October 5, 2013
ARC Review: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins
Title: The Perfect Match (Blue Heron, #2)
Author: Kristan Higgins
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: October 29th, 2013*
Kristan Higgins has quickly become one of my favorite go-to authors, so after devouring no less than four of her book this past year, it should come as no surprise that I loved her latest, The Perfect Match. From the surface, this novel seems rather familiar. After all, how many romances start out as a "marriage of convenience" and quickly progress to something more? You can always count on Higgins, though, to take a typical chick-lit romance and turn it into a love story with depth.
Honor and Brogan have been friends-with-benefits for years, but while Honor sees him as her future husband, Brogan solely sees Honor as his childhood best friend. Thus, when Brogan turns down Honor's rash marriage proposal and quickly becomes engaged to Honor's best friend, Dana, Honor's life slowly falls out of control. Not only has she reached a stage in her life where what she's expected hasn't happened, but she's being forced to let go of a few reins of the family business she's run since her mother died. If Honor is a mess, though, that's nothing compared to Tom, a British man in need of a green card. Years ago, Tom was engaged to be marriaged, but when his fiancee died, he was denied jurisdiction of his would-be-step-son Charlie. With two desperate people, looking for their lives to change, a fake - and temporary - marriage seems to be the perfect option. Only, are Tom and Honor really faking it after all?
In all honesty, I'm not a huge fan of the "fake marriage" scheme, but I knew that if anyone could pull it off, it would be Higgins. One of the reasons I love these romances as much as I do is because Higgins takes the time to build her characters. I've found that the first-half of her stories are hilarious, filled with the gradual spiraling-out-of-control situations that lead her characters to eventually find romance. For me, it's such an integral part to her novels, both because they give her main characters so much depth, but also because they give her secondary characters prominent positions in the novel. After establishing the close bonds between this family in The Best Man, it's always a pleasure to re-visit favorite characters and see what life has in store for them. Moreover, I love that Faith's perspective of her family in The Best Man is so far removed from Honor's perspective. After all, where Faith is the "princess" of the family, Honor is the tough cookie, taking on everything that life throws at her.
And Tom, too, has so much back story to his tale. I particularly loved the growth of his relationship with Charlie. In some ways, Charlie blames Tom for his mother's death, but at the same time, Tom is the only person who really cares and understands him. Where Charlie's own father abandoned him, Tom is willing to take over. With Charlie in his teenage years, the dynamics between himself and Tom are particularly interesting to watch unfold. It also shows us a much more different side to the sexy, suave Tom we see otherwise. (And this is coming from a family of engineers, so for me to actually find another engineer attractive in any way is HUGE.) I love that both Tom and Honor bring their fair amount of baggage to the table and though they never actively sit down to sift through it, it slowly happens through the course of the novel anyway. Tom is slowly integrated into Honor's family and she into his; it's utterly perfect.
With all of that said, the romance between Tom and Honor isn't easy. More often than not, their interactions are awkward and they don't get along. Of course there's that sizzling sexual tension simmering on the surface, but it's never acted upon - which is agonizing, mind you. Yet, what I really love about their love story, is how understated it is. Although their relationship is the focus of the novel, the individual growth that both Tom and Honor experience is much more important. As these two manage to find happiness outside of the "rut" they think their lives are in, they also manage to find slow and growing love. With these types of love stories, I always look forward to that moment when two people realize just what they're missing without the other person in their lives and Higgins just may have perfected the art of that.
All in all, The Perfect Match is another absolutely perfect Higgins romance. While I initially worried over Honor being similar to the protagonist of Somebody to Love, who I couldn't connect with whatsoever, I was thoroughly invested in this tale. I can't get enough of Blue Heron - especially this family! - so I am more than a little thrilled that Higgins is returning to this small town for her next novel. If there's any author I can constantly count on to deliver satisfying romances, it's Kristan Higgins. Honestly, if you haven't even picked up a book by her yet, I don't know what you're waiting for.
*Quick Note: I've seen the release date for this book marked as November 1st by some publishers, though Amazon has it listed as October 29th.