by Kristan Higgins
Series: Blue Heron #2
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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
The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins is the second book in the Blue Heron series. I did not realize at the time that this was part of a series, but it worked well as a standalone. Second chance love and a marriage arrangement are tropes visited in this small-town romance, but side stories added depth and connection to this tale that kept me turning the pages. Mini review: heart-warming, and realistic with lessons and love.
The tale takes place in the small town of Manningsport, New York; population of 715. Honor Holland and her family own the local vineyard, and it’s been in their family for generations. She has helped put the vineyard and its cellars on the map since she began working there. On her thirty-fifth birthday, her Doctor informs her that her biological clock is ticking, and this has her focusing on marriage. She asks her best friend with benefits to marry her and he flat out rejects her only to announce he is engaged a mere three weeks later to her best friend! Tom Barlow is a British professor here on a green card. His visa is about to expire, and he is deeply concerned for his unofficial stepson Charlie and their fragile relationship. Thanks to a meddling old woman, these two meet and agree to marry. The tale that unfolds offers a slow building romance with growth and tender moments as Higgins wraps these characters around your heart.
Honor Holland is the back-bone of her family and their business. Her only relationship has been with her best friend and it’s been an unhealthy one. She is your average woman, who really sees herself as a plain Jane, and sadly often dresses that way. She has spunk though, and we see moments of it. While not my favorite character, she made me laugh, and I was pleased with the growth we saw from her. Tom Barlow has strong features and a sexy crooked tooth but it is his British accent that has woman fawning over him. I really liked this damaged and flawed man with a heart three sizes too big. His interaction with his stepson, and attention to Honor was sweet. Of course, he needed a big kick in the pants when it came to love and trust, and I enjoyed watching him grow. The side characters were wonderful in this tale and added depth. Higgins filled the tale with characters to make you melt, laugh and loathe all while allowing them to see growth, as well.
Going into The Perfect Match, I expected a romance wrapped around the marriage trope and knew it would be laced with humor, a little angst and looked forward to watching the relationship develop. What I didn’t expect was well rounded world Higgins drew me into. I fell in the love the Holland family, with Charlie, Tom’s stepson and I got caught up in the drama with Honor’s best friends. Higgins even introduced some traditions surrounding the Vineyard that held me spellbound. I would love to live on a vineyard, the whole idea is romantic, and while I know it is hard work it seems like a simplistic way of life. The romance developed slowly, in fact; their first encounter did not go well at all. These two are complicated, and whenever an arrangement is involved and feelings enter into the equations things get deliciously complicated. Higgins balanced the angst, and misunderstands with growth and depth. I really became quite entangled in everyone’s life and felt like I lived it with them, making this a realistic and heartfelt romance that I didn’t want to end.
Fans of small-town romances with fleshed out characters will enjoy The Perfect Match. The first book in the series, The Best Man is currently available and tells the story of Faith Holland and the third book, Waiting on You, shares Colleen O’Rourke’s tale and is one I am anxious to read. It is scheduled to release in March of 2014.
Four cups of coffee out of five
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