The Perfect Match
”Make ‘em laugh, Make ‘em laugh, don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?” Donald O’Connor immortalized those words in the popular movie Singin’ in the Rain. While they are meant to be comical they contain more than a kernel of truth. Most people do love to laugh, I know I certainly do. And one of the few authors guaranteed to give me a good, laugh out loud read is Kristan Higgins.
Honor Holland has a quirky, kooky, fantastic family. She has a job she absolutely loves at her family’s vineyard. Deciding she has reached the age where she needs to complete the picture with a loving husband and a couple of kids, she proposes to her best “with benefits” friend. And crashes and burns badly. Dusting herself off she tries to get back in the saddle and find a new love – or chance at love. Which is not an easy thing to do when you live in a town of less than eight hundred people and you’ve spent most of your years pining for a guy who just compared you to an old baseball glove. When the best online dating prospects in her town turn out to be related to her, Honor wonders just how she will find someone without leaving her perfect life behind and heading to the big city.
Enter Grandma (Goggy) with the son of an old friend who needs a green card. Honor meets him and he is absolutely horrible. She’s not that desperate yet. Tom Barlow will just have to find another way to stay in the country.
Tom Barlow has lived his life for the past two years around (almost) stepson Charlie. The two had been close at one point but the death of Tom’s fiancé (Charlie’s mom) seems to have put paid to that relationship. Tom now spends his visitation hours with a surly Goth kid who barely speaks to him. When Charlie was forced to move in with his mom’s parents, Tom followed him to the tiny town in New York they called home. However, as a result Tom’s visa was placed in jeopardy. Now he has just been nasty to the only decent woman in town who might possibly have married him and given him a shot at staying near Charlie. He hadn’t wanted to take advantage of the girl and frankly, he hadn’t wanted to be that desperate. But his one chance at staying in the States now thinks he’s a complete putz.
Fortunately, fate steps in and hands Honor and Tom one more chance to get things right. Will marriage be the solution to both their problems? Or just the start of a whole set of new ones?
There were several laugh out loud moments for me in this book. I mean, complete belly, couldn’t hold them in if I wanted to, laughs. And it seemed that when I wasn’t laughing I was smiling- except of course when the villainess was in the scene, during which time I scowled in righteous anger. I just loved how this book made me feel and I was absolutely pulled into everything happening in this novel.
I also loved the reality of the story. There were no spies, big lies or crazed guys clogging up the tale. It was just ordinary people with typical problems. Contemporary romances dealing with average people are so scarce on the ground these days that that alone makes this read a delightful treat.
Added to all that greatness is the writing style. The author does a wonderful job of spinning a scene together. There is a terrific moment where Honor’s sisters and their respective partners are discussing her hotness factor that I felt combined heartfelt and hilarious perfectly. I thought the occasion also showed tremendous characterization in a brief episode. We learn something about Honor from other’s perspectives but it also gives us an in-depth look at how the family interacts and how each of them as individuals think. There are many other such moments but this one really highlighted the authors ability to encapsulate important information in a short, fascinating space.
My only complaints with the book are unfortunately with the main characters and with their romance. Tom’s story is wrapped up in Charlie’s story and that tale never felt real. Given everything that was happening I couldn’t understand why Tom was in love with that little family. I never saw a special connection that would have explained his willingness to turn his life upside down to be a part of theirs. This meant that Tom looked like a complete saint who wound up coming across as too good to be true – which made it even worse when he has his “I can be a stinker” moments and treats Honor somewhat shabbily at several points in the book. The end result was a rather hodgepodge character I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around.
Honor is almost too wonderful as well. She does have her moments such as throwing wine at her ex-best friend but I felt like she should have stood up for herself a lot more. She just never seemed to feel she deserved everything she had and more. That was great for the beginning of the story – you want the characters to have room for growth – but I never really saw that growth take place and I think it was needed. Equally needed were special moments between these two extra nice people. With the exception of the scene in the basement with the spider we just didn’t get those.
Those factors in no way ruined my enjoyment of the book though. I still really liked both main characters and the author did a great job of making everything else about the story realistic yet charming. I was delighted the only problem I had with the novel was that the hero and heroine were too super sweet. And in many ways their sugary goodness was a good fit for the rollicking humor of the tale. If you are a fan of Ms. Higgins’ work you will not want to miss this one. If you are a fan of gently humorous romances you won’t want to miss it. It’s a sweet read and if sometimes that sweetness overwhelms a bit, well, ’tis the season for that kind of excess.