Review: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins + Giveaway

perfect match by kristan higginsFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Paperback, ebook, audiobook, Large Print
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Blue Heron #2
Length: 442 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: November 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

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—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, 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….

My Review:

When it comes to relationships, Honor Holland doesn’t start out this story with anyone in her circle dealing with a whole lot of honor, including herself. Although at least she has some excuse for her behavior.

When the man you’ve loved for years compares your relationship to a baseball catcher’s favorite glove, well, acting out of character does seem more than called for, doesn’t it? Most of us would be looking for a fake boyfriend or fake fiance to rub in the clueless wonder’s face. There’s letting a girl down gently, and then there’s THAT. Or splat.

After the shameful letdown, if your best friend instantly moves in for the kill (and the engagement ring) while a very public catfight might not be what Miss Manners recommends, it could easily seem like the exact right thing to do at the time.

Especially if your former BFF comes off as a smug little bitch while she’s dishing you all the details, with a sly little smile on her face that lets you know she did it all deliberately.

But Honor’s post-catfight response is to contract a green card marriage with a hot mechanical engineering professor at the local college. If you get whiplash from that sentence, it’s okay. It is pretty whiplash inducing. It also sets Honor’s life on an entirely new course.

Tom Barlow needs a green card to stay in the U.S. because his very small college isn’t willing to continue the legal hassle of dealing with it. (I’m not totally sure how this bit works, because his job was never in jeopardy, only their legal wrangling) Tom needs to stay in the U.S. to be near the sullen teenager who would have been his stepson, IF his marriage to the boy’s mother hadn’t been called off on account of the woman’s death.

There’s an emotional sinkhole there even worse than Honor’s friends-with-benefits relationship with Brogan Cain that she thought was love for over a decade. Tom stayed with cheating Melinda because he wanted to raise her son Charlie. When Melinda was killed while off having an affair, he had no standing to adopt the boy. Now he’s in emotional limbo.

Honor is in emotional limbo, too. It turned out that her best friend was just a leech waiting for an opportunity to go after the man she thought was the love of her life. Tom Barlow’s need for a green card came up just at the point where her doctor (Jeremy from The Best Man) informs her that at age 35, her eggs are getting older and it’s time for her to think about having babies if she wants them.

Tom needs a wife, Honor needs a sperm donor. While this is not a marriage made in heaven, necessity is often the mother of invention, especially in a case where someone wants to be a mother.

Honor is trying to think of it as an arranged marriage. Sometimes the idea works. Sometimes she watches her grandparents argue and thinks she’s out of her mind.

But the more time she spends with Tom, the more she thinks that this arranged marriage has the possibility of turning into something real. But only if they both stop protecting themselves from the bad things that have happened before and reach for the good things that might happen in the here and now.

Escape Rating B+: There are so many “perfect matches” being worked out in this story; that’s part of what makes it so much fun to read.

best man by kristan higginsHonor and Tom are in some ways the least interesting match, but their story provides the frame for all of the other action that takes place. Also, their story has much darker motives behind it than Faith and Levi’s story did in The Best Man (reviewed yesterday)

Initially, Honor and Tom get together because they are doing the right thing for other people. They think it’s going to be a business arrangement. Admittedly, a business arrangement where they are defrauding the U.S. Government, but a business arrangement.

She gets married, gets to stick Brogan and Dana in the eye, gets a baby maybe. He gets a green card and gets to stay in Charlie’s life. She also gets out of her father’s house because he’s finally found the right woman to marry. Her dad finally woke up and smelled the coffee right under his nose.

Her dad is marrying Mrs. J, the woman who helped raise them and kept house and home together for them after their mother was killed. Mrs. J. been in love with Honor’s dad for sixteen years, and it’s about time he figured it out. Slow learner, but very sweet.

Tom and Charlie’s relationship is painful to witness. Charlie blames Tom for his mother’s death, because he has no one else to blame for that pain. And because he’s a teenager. And because his mother was out running around with his dad and had left him behind with Tom when she died. He has to blame someone.

So both Tom and Honor enter into their relationship for reasons other than love, and they are both afraid that the other one is going to back out, or even worse, that one will put their heart on the line and the other will stomp on it. Neither wants to discover that they have come in second best again.

But the more they try to fake things, for the Immigration Service, to stick it to Brogan, for their families, the more they discover that what they have might be real. And that ups the relationship stakes for both of them. Which is what makes the story so very good.

~~~~~~GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Kristan has graciously agreed to give away a paperback copy of The Perfect Match to one lucky US winner. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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