The Best Man | Kristan Higgins | Book Review

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.

The Best Man by Kristan Higgins | Good Books And Good Wine

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

About April (Books&Wine)

April is 30 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and baby, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. UGH. Transphobia? how is that a viable subplot in this day and age? And stereotyping gay people? Just…no. I’ve been trying to read some more grown up books, but I definitely won’t be checking out any by this author!

  2. That’s a bummer about the flaws with the book – not cool at all. Still, I’ve been looking for a place to start with this author and I decided that this was probably a good place since it is the first in a new series by her so I’m on the wait list at the library to read it. I’ve been finding that I’m liking the adult contemps lately. Also funny to mention that you’re not the first person that I’ve seen mention how Levi talks about Faith’s boobs a lot. Haha. So I guess I’ll read this one quickly to get my feet wet with this author, but I wonder if I should expect this type of thing from all of her books? All mediocre? Or is this not typical for her?

    Love the honesty, A.

  3. “So, okay, what super annoys me about this book is that there are tasteless jokes made at the expense of transgendered people.”

    No. Just no. That is not cool.

    I do not read romance novels much anymore, and I’m certainly not going to go out of my way for one that perpetuates hate, accidentally or intentionally.

  4. I could understand the stuff where she’s naming off stereotypical gay things because you could say that her character is so naive that she thinks that at the beginning, and it is part of the story. But the trans stuff just seems totally unnecessary. I would have thought an editor would take something like that out.

  5. I liked this book, but I agree that there were flaws. I definitely could have done without the scene with her dad’s set-up with the transgendered individual. It was tasteless and offensive. I get that it was supposed to be done in humor, but that does not make it okay. Humor is great, but it doesn’t change the message you’re sending.

    However, I actually thought the opposite about the scene where she was rambling off gay stereotypes to Jeremy. Yes, it showed a person who relies entirely on Hollywood for their information on the LGBTQ community. But to me, that’s realistic, because where I live, I am still surrounded by people who make the same assumptions. But I thought that by making Jeremy not all of these things, then straight-up addressing it like that, it actually helped emphasize the idea that HOLD UP, not every gay guy is a hairdresser who fawns over Lady Gaga and talks in a falsetto voice.

  6. Oh my gosh, what a disappointment! I hate that stereotypical crap. Actually, I’m reading Walking Disaster right now, and I’m feeling similar only about how the women are portrayed. Oh my gosh, the author has nothing nice to say about women! Either they are sluts, and they deserve to be treated like shit by Travis, or they are angels because they don’t sleep with someone on the first date. OH! And what really pisses me off is when women are portrayed as catty and conniving. I mean sure some women are bitches, but let’s be honest, so are some guys! It’s not a trait only women have. Puh-lease!

    Okay, sorry, I got way off topic here. I’m pretty sure Faith would have annoyed me too. I mean, of course she is hurt by what happened, but really? Like you said, it’s better that it happened when it did.

  7. The transgendered lines, mixed with Faiths annoying hang up on Jeremy AND her hate for Levi made this one tough for me.
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  8. I loved this book. I enjoyed the characters–funny, sad in some parts..I didn’t want to put it down. It is a novel. I know a few trans and gay folks that would not be put out by the comments you refer to..they would actually agree or be more bitchy and flamboyant.

    If anyone has noticed, this is a branch of Harlequin. If you want pro-woman, feminist, burn your bra in protest or PC then look elsewhere. This was not offensive in anyway and I look forward to reading the other books in this series and other books by this author.

    Last time I checked, real people do have varied attitudes and quirks–hang ups, anxieties…baggage. Just read it, go with it…don’t read much in between the lines. Just a curl up with tea and a blanket and read for the sake of some light reading.

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