Monday, October 28, 2013

(Review) The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

Title: The Perfect Match
Author: Kristan Higgins
Series: Blue Heron, #2
Published: October 29, 2013 (HQN)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Digital ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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, New York, 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. But juggling a fiancĂ©, 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….
I have a theory as to how the idea for The Perfect Match came about. Kristan Higgins magically stumbled onto The Book Barbies, clearly pulled in by the number of times I've referred to her as one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. She went, "Huh, this Sharon seems pretty awesome. Let's have a look at her favorite things! Hm. British heroes? Marriages of convenience? I can do that!" And BOOM, this book was born.

Admittedly, it's not a likely theory. But given the contents of this book, it's certainly possible.

From the opening scene of the book, it was clear that Honor was not your typical heroine. She was in the middle of her annual birthday tradition - getting a pap smear. Honor was practical, logical, and a workaholic at the family wine business. While she was happy with some things in her life, her romantic life was at an unhappy stand-still, as she had been hung up on the same man for years. This was quickly and humiliatingly resolved when Honor mustered up the courage to go after what she wanted, only to be rejected. Thankfully, this allowed her to attempt to move on.

And then came Tom. Tom was a complicated character. At first, I honestly was not sure whether or not I was going to like him. Tom was a bit heavy on the drinking at the beginning of the book, something he blamed on being British. He also wasn't always the nicest guy. But this made him more real to me. I like that he had flaws and wasn't some perfect British specimen of a man. That would be too obvious, too boring. The fact that you had to get past some walls to really see him made him even better.

One of the reasons I fell so hard for this book was Tom's relationship with Charlie, his unofficial stepson. Charlie was even more hostile and defensive and apathetic than your average fourteen-year-old boy, and it would have been so easy for Tom to give up on him. After all, Tom had no official legal or blood ties to the boy - only a relationship forged during Tom's relationship with Charlie's now deceased mother several years before. Aside from Tom, Charlie had no one in his life besides uncaring grandparents, and he completely broke my heart. To see him finally begin to respond to Tom - and Honor as well - was just amazing. And the fact that Tom cared enough to do this was huge. So often, fake finacé or marriage of convenience plots are based off something absurdly far-fetched, not that this diminishes my love for them. But it was so refreshing to have a realistic reason behind the need for this relationship, and more than that, one that I whole-heartedly believed.

Also, once Tom and Honor were living in the same house, I love how Higgins portrayed it. They were so awkward with each other! And for good reason. That would be bloody uncomfortable, I have to say. Sharing a house and an impending marriage with a near-stranger? Definitely not a situation to put you at ease. They had to learn so many things in such a short time.

The Perfect Match was such a charming read! There were many things I enjoyed about it, from the interactions of Honor's family to Tom's hilariously creepy boss at the university. I also have to point out that Higgins had the chance to rely on a very common - and one of my least favorites - trope, toward the end of the story, but she didn't. And that made me love her just a little bit more. Therefore, I am happy to say that Higgins remains one of my favorite contemporary authors, and I await more from her Blue Heron series.

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