The Perfect Match
By Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
October 29, 2013
Honor Holland, the organized, responsible, got-everything-together middle Holland sister didn’t know it at the time, but her thirty-fifth birthday marked a turning point in her life. First, during her annual exam, her gyn, Dr. Jeremy Lyon, her sister’s gay ex, cautioned her that the optimal age for pregnancy was past, her eggs were aging, and if she wanted children, she needed to consider her options. Honor knows exactly whom she wants to father her children. She and Brogan Cain have been close friends since the fourth grade, Honor has been in love with him since their senior prom, and they have been friends with intermittent benefits since they were freshmen in college. Now he’s a photographer for Sports Illustrated with a glamorous job and high profile friends, but he’s still a nice guy who calls Manningsport home and hangs out with Honor. But when Honor’s attempt at seduction turns into disaster, and her proposal prompts Brogan to call her his best friend and liken her to “an old baseball glove,” she is forced to realize there’s not much hope of her dreams coming true. Six weeks later, the little hope that remains is crushed when Brogan and Honor’s best friend Dana, announce their engagement. The very ring that Honor had picked out as the one Brogan would give her shone triumphantly on Dana’s left hand. Honor clearly needs a life makeover.
Mechanical engineering professor Tom Barlow needs a green card. Without one, he is going to have to leave the United States and return to England. While that might be the best thing for his career, since his job at tiny Wickham College is on the lower rungs of the academic prestige ladder, it would mean leaving Charlie, the teenage son of Tom’s fiancée Melissa, who was killed in an accident two years ago. Tom has no official claim on Charlie, but he has loved the boy since he was a grinning ten-year-old who loved fishing trips and building model airplanes with Tom. Since his mother’s death, Charlie seems to have turned into a brooding adolescent who hates the world in general and Tom in particular. But Charlie’s attitude doesn’t lessen Tom’s affection or his sense of responsibility for the teen whose maternal grandparents merely tolerate him and whose father is a peripatetic presence in his life. Tom’s aunt reminds him that marriage will solve his green card problem.
Honor and Tom have a rocky start with a blind state, but a spark struck at their second meeting ignites one snowy evening when Tom helps Honor out of an awkward situation. Soon the two are planning a marriage of convenience. Honor moves in with Tom to see if their compatibility extends beyond the bedroom and to create a convincing image for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. But love is anything but convenient for Tom who has been badly burned during his engagement, and when Honor fall in love with him, he is terrified. When spring comes, Honor is planning a wedding, but it’s not hers. Will she and Tom ever find the HEA they deserve?
This is the second book in Higgins’s Blue Heron series, and while this one doesn’t quite reach the so-amazing-I-want-to-reread-it-immediately level of The Best Man, it is still a terrific book with all of Higgins’s trademark humor, believable contemporary relationships, family interactions, and puppy love. Honor is an endearing heroine, supremely confident of herself professionally but vulnerable and insecure when it comes to romance. Because she has been in love with Brogan for half her life and has never really considered what her life would be without him, her lack of confidence is credible. I loved the makeover scene, especially when the males join the ladies.
Tom may be my favorite Higgins hero ever. He’s a professor, he has a British accent, he loves his unofficial stepson, and he has a killer sense of humor. All these things make him irresistible from my point of view, which is fortunate since that makes it easier to forgive him when he acts like a jerk later. He redeems himself beautifully, and, without moving into spoiler territory, I’ll just say that I cheered Higgins for the timing of his reversal. I would have been so disappointed if she had gone for the cliché.
I am not a member of the Anti-epilogue League. My cynicism quotient is too low. I’m a fan of aww moments, sweet but not saccharine, that leave me with a smile and a tear and all the loose ends tied up in a bright, celebratory bow. So Higgins’s epilogue rates an A+ from me. The plus is because Charlie got a happy ending too.
I fell in love with the Holland family in the first book, and it was lovely to see Faith and Levi exchanging quips and hot looks, Pru still looking for ways to keep the spice in her long marriage, and Goggy and Pops bickering with undiminished energy. I loved the secondary romance, and brother Jack looks more interesting in this one. Colleen O'Rourke’s story is next in Waiting for You, a reunion romance scheduled for release on March 25. But I hope to see more of Jack, and there’s Colleen’s twin and co-tavern owner Connor too. Pru’s kids are both interesting characters too, and then there is Levi’s old friend Jessica. I’ll be happy to see this series continue through several more books.
If you are a Higgins fan, I promise The Perfect Match will be one of your favorites. If you have never read Kristan Higgins, you are missing one of the best authors writing contemporary romance. The Perfect Match can be read as a standalone, and I definitely recommend it. Honestly, my grin won’t be too smug when I hear you are glomming her backlist.
I know when I pick up a Kristan Higgins book that I am going to experience some character-driven, laugh-out-loud moments that leave me chuckling as I recall them for days afterward. Who tops your list for genuinely funny contemporary romance?