So I recently finished reading Tempting the Best Man by Tanya Michaels, a Harlequin Blaze romance starring Daniel Keegan the college literature professor and Maya Hayes the spunky event planner. It was a solid read with a great romantic foundation, but lacked a cohesion and relevance I was searching for when I picked it up. I’ve always been a fan of stories where the hero and heroine knew each other before their romantic encounter, or perhaps are exes who were too young to take love seriously the first time around. Really any previous animosity that fuels a current-day attraction is all good in my book.
For me this particular story earns a 3/5 for a couple of reasons. For one, the title didn’t have much to do with the characters, and for a Harlequin romance, I’m looking for a little more ‘what you see is what you get’. I had a few issues with the story as well, mostly the ultimate attractiveness of the hero. His likability as a partner was a little up and down. Despite a middle-of-the-road rating, I will definitely read this author again in the future. Her prose was drawing, and the pacing of the story and its anecdotal humor was spot on. Without any further ado, lets dive in.
In regards to the meat of the storyline vs. the title of the book, you would assume there is going to be a wedding in the central plot to say the very least. It’s part of a miniseries called Wild Wedding Nights for Pete’s sake. There is a wedding, but it has little to do with the attraction and forming relationship of the characters. Realistically, it wouldn’t change the story dramatically if it were removed entirely. For the naming point of the book to be superfluous is a bit misleading. I’m not trying to stereotype all wedding based romances released by Harlequin, but I would take hypotheses away from Tempting the Best Man like… a bridesmaid who feels out of his league making a run at him before she never sees him again, or perhaps the revenge of the ugly duckling turned swan bringing her former crush to his knees; something that gives his being the best man in the title some legitimate significance. It doesn’t have this, and that was a disappointment for me. I felt mislead by the title despite the catchy (and accurate to plot) blurb. Romance and weddings go together hand in hand, but this book left the wedding in the first chapter and ran right back to regular life as fast as it could. -1
Let’s talk conflict. The one thing that can kill a perfectly good romance with strong characters and heat you can feel from miles away is a weak unrealistic conflict. Conflict is the one big thing keeping the hero and heroine from finding their Happily Ever After. The man moves too much for work, the woman doesn’t want to be tied down, someone would need to give up their career path for the relationship to work…the possibilities are endless. In Tempting the Best Man, the conflict revolves around the respective social circles of the hero and the heroine. She is a bit more real-life, relaxed, spunky, self-made female running her own successful business that’s come up from nothing, and he is way starchy, cold, and uptight with a family that adds immensely to that uptight feel with judgement and political-correctness. This is not the heroine’s style, and she feels she will never be able to, and will never want to fit in to his life. The conflict places him in a few situations where he has the opportunity to grow and change by standing up for the heroine and her way of living, and in my opinion he fails this test too many times in a row to be forgiven as easily as he is. Of course the two of them find their Happily Ever After, with the hero realizing that this woman with her way of life is exactly what he needs to complete him, but the realization comes after too many blunders to be fully satisfying. -1 (I didn’t mark for spoilers, do you really need that, though?)
So we’ve covered what could have been better, now let’s talk about where Tanya Michaels hit the nail on the head. There were still lots of things to like about this story. For one, it hints subtly at equality of all love. LGBT can be just as romantic as heterosexual love even if that’s not your bag of chips. I appreciate that Harlequin as a whole is getting with the times and allowing this message to be portrayed in its love affairs. One of the supporting characters in this story is a lesbian, and the heroine encourages her to go after someone. The heroine also mentioned organizing a wedding for gay friends of hers, which is met with a closed-minded view the heroine is summarily able to shoot down. Power to Love! The support characters give exactly what they should to the story, supplementing the personalities of our hero and heroine while not crowding their opportunity to fall in love. I like when the friends and family members exist just enough to help the story, but not too much that I’m rolling my eyes at a sub-plot I wish I could skip.
Also, the writing style has injections of humor placed perfectly throughout, and turning the page is so easy. Too much internal dialogue bogs down a plot, you know, where you start to skim because you’re just dying to get to the sexy connection? No? Just me?
The sex between the hero and the heroine was adequate to say the least. Their sexual attraction is the one thing I truly loved about their love story, as it was believable. It wasn’t over the top, or so frequent that I began to question the heat. It also wasn’t pushing any boundaries where the porn/romance line is concerned. I’m all for explicit writing and plenty of sex, but we have to maintain the romance and the love.
Overall I found Tempting the Best Man to be a warm, well-written read, and I’ll be sure to check out Tanya Michaels in the future. Thanks for listening!
Questions? Comments? Recommendations? Critique? Let me hear it in the comments. Thanks again dudes!!