The Worst Best Man
As soon as I saw the blurb for The Worst Best Man, I thought it sounded like it could be a very fun read. And I’m generally up for very fun reads. In the end, this book did have its good moments, but overall, it just didn’t quite work for me.
In the prologue, we see that Max Hartley’s brother Andrew not only decides to leave his bride at the altar, but he wants Max to deliver the news. On their actual wedding day. Not surprisingly, Andrew’s fiancée Lina takes this poorly.
Now, a few years later, we get to catch up with Max and Lina. Lina Santos is establishing herself as an up-and-coming wedding planner in the DC area, while Max has returned home to work for his mother’s business. Max and Lina cross paths when Max, looking to obtain the marketing business of a high-end hotel chain, is paired with Lina to prepare a sales pitch for her wedding planning services. Max’s brother is paired with a rival wedding planner, and the winner will be hired as the hotel’s own wedding planner. If they perform well, the Hartley brothers’ firm may well end up getting the hotel’s marketing business as well.
The story is told in alternating first person between Max and Lina, so we get to see the main characters’ shifting opinions of each other. This is particularly effective when it comes to getting inside Lina’s head. And I have to admit, since much of Lina’s life centers on her relationships with her extended family, I enjoyed seeing her interactions with them. Lina is Brazilian American, and her love of the culture, the food and her family’s identity flows through the story. This family dynamic is one of the book’s strengths.
Some of the best scenes in the book involve either interactions with extended family or are between Max and Lina and Lina’s wedding-planning clients. The give and take of easy affection between the members of Lina’s obviously close-knit family creates a warmth that pulls both leads into the circle. I loved seeing Lina with her family, and these scenes also give Max the chance to see Lina relax a bit. It’s adorable to watch him fall a little bit more in love with Lina each time he sees different sides of her.
I could certainly understand Lina holding a grudge against Max and Andrew given what happened between them, so the tension for an enemies-to-lovers romance was certainly there. However, Max and Lina’s interactions, especially in the beginning, often felt a little juvenile. I could understand there being tension, but somehow the tension turning to romance never felt entirely real to me. And it didn’t help that Max and Lina lied more than once to everyone around them. They concealed their past history from the hotel, pretending not to know each other, and at one point, they go to a relationship retreat pretending to be in a relationship.
In addition to getting frustrated at the leads’ bickering in the early chapters of the novel, I also felt pulled out of the story more than once as I read so I found myself putting the book down and taking more breaks than usual while I was reading. Some of the dialogue just felt a tad clunky, with info-dumps thrown in here and there that interrupted the flow of the story, and that made it hard for me to keep my attention on the book.
Despite the issues I note above, The Worst Best Man works more than it doesn’t, so I give it a qualified recommendation. While I had my quibbles with the story flow, there are some fun, adorable scenes in this novel, particularly in the second half. If you like romantic comedy, you may want to check this one out.