I just love settling in for the night with an adult contemporary romance from time to time. It’s nice to read about grown ups doing grown up things and also to take a nice sort of break from YA. Granted, sometimes these books make me feel a little in adequate when the main characters obviously don’t struggle with money or anything and they aren’t quite post grad. Anyways. So, the other night I settled in with The Best Man by Kristan Higgins – an author who makes great use of pets. I ended up reading this book two nights in a row and staying up pretty late to finish it the second night. To be honest, I would have really loved The Best Man but a few things made bits of this book SUPER ANNOYING.
Faith was left at the alter a few years ago when her fiance Jeremy came out of the closet as gay. She unfortunately had no idea because they were the power couple of Manningsport. You see, their families are both wealthy and own vineyards right next to each other. Plus, Faith and Jeremy dated all through high school. So, when all is said and done Faith decides to leave her small upstate NY roots for San Francisco, where she has equally bad luck with guys. Eventually she’s called back to Manningsport to design a few parks and to re-do her family’s barn so they can make money doing weddings. While back in town she keeps encountering Levi the police chief and the man who ruined her wedding. Of course, there’s love-hate chemistry between the two.
As the main character of The Best Man, Faith Holland is alright. I mean, she’s a very nice and kind person. She wants to be friends with everyone. She’s hardly rude or anything. But she’s also kind of an idiot as well, or maybe not an idiot, but naive comes to mind. Anyways, I found it kind of hard to really respect her due to her lack of common sense. And her whining. Like yo, do you really want to be married to a gay man who will never be able to reciprocate the exact same lustful desire feelings for you? Because she’s so depressed and whiny like the whole time about how Jeremy left her at the alter when really, I think she should have been thankful because we all know that would have been a miserable marriage. So, I wanted Faith to have a happily ever after, but at the same time I found her irritating. BUT, her golden retriever Blue did soften me towards her.
With Higgins’ The Best Man, we get dual points of view. Aside from chapters that focus on Faith, there are chapters that focus on Levi. He is the police chief of Manningsport and a decorated war veteran. He also fights a past where he felt inadequate because his dad abandoned his family and he was raised in a trailer park instead of one of the big houses on the hill. Anyways, he kind of sees Faith as a snob for a lot of the book, but of course we know there’s also kind of an attraction there too. I actually liked Levi much more than Faith, although I wish he spent less time talking about her chest. Alas.
So, okay, what super annoys me about this book is that there are tasteless jokes made at the expense of transgendered people. I know some will say I need to get a sense of humor, but I find that making fun of marginalized people is not what I find a laughing matter. There’s a whole scene where Faith is trying to get her dad back into the dating pool and she unwittingly sets her dad up with a transwoman. Anyways, terms like she-make are thrown around. I think at one point they refer to the character as ‘it.’ And straight up, I find that completely fucked up and transphobic and you know as someone who is not a total asshole I can’t get behind that attitude towards members of the GLBTQ community. ALSO! While we’re on this rant, there was a part where Faith was naming off stereotypical gay things and was all Jeremy, you don’t do those, how could you be gay? Fucking really? Ugh. I just, I am not okay with the treatment of gay and trans people in The Best Man.
While the family, the setting and the pacing in The Best Man are pretty great — I read this book so fast, I loved the big huge Holland family and the fact that this takes place in the real upstate, I am still disappointed. Like, had this book been more respectful towards people outside of heteronorms, I would have liked it more. But as it is, I just feel so let down because I really enjoyed the other book I read by Higgins and this could actually be a great read if those things weren’t included. Alas.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of The Best Man by Kristan Higgins:
Gone With The Words – “I loved the chemistry between Faith and Levi.”
The Pretty Good Gatsby – “Guys, apart from a few bumps, this book was so. much. fun.”
Taking It One Page At A Time – “The characters were interesting and well-developed.”
Books by Kristan Higgins:
The Next Best Thing