Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa


I almost didn't buy this book because some of the positive reviews for it made it seem like it was going to be one of those trying-to-hard-to-be-quirky cookie cutter romances that all seem to share the same identical pastel covers and too-plucky-to-be-believed heroines. I am so, so glad that I bought this book anyway because that really couldn't be farther from the truth. THE WORST BEST MAN is like a smart rom-com in book form, only better because, ummm, gratuitous food porn, a smart woman of color protagonist who loves her job and has some pretty important dialogues about what it means to express emotion in public spaces as a woman of color, and an honestly hilarious battle of wills in an enemies to lovers romance that never feels too easy or too mean-spirited. It was just the pick-me-up I needed.

Lina is a wedding planner who was ditched by her own would-be-husband at her wedding several years ago. Andrew, her ex, sent a mystifying text message to his brother, Max, suggesting something he said on their night out was responsible before just, you know, going dark. Even though Lina is super successful in her own right now, she has never forgiven either brother for ruining what should have been the best day of her life, which is why when she ends up landing the chance to make a major career move with the owner of a successful boutique hotel chain, she is not happy to see that the brothers-- and their mom-- are also involved.

As it turns out, Lina isn't the only planner the hotel might want to work with. And since Max and Andrew are ever in competition, they're going to let the best brother-- and planner-- win by working to develop a pitch that will appeal most to the Cartwright hotel chain. At first, Lina is icy to Max and pranks him (including tricking him into eat a very spicy Brazilian pepper at one of their lunch meetings) but it soon becomes pretty clear that Max isn't a bad guy. He's very different from Andrew and he's also very attracted to Lina-- to her looks, her personality, her success, and her vulnerabilities. It doesn't take all that much time for the ice to melt. But the drama that awaits them is much more lasting.

I ended up liking this book a lot. It's the perfect quarantine read because of all the vicarious parties and celebrations. Honestly, the beautiful descriptions of food warrant an extra star alone. The cake-tasting scene and the lunch at the Brazilian restaurant had my mouth watering. I loved how the connection between food and family was brought in with Lina and her family, and its ties to Brazilian culture. Also, all of the in-text Brazilian words! I love it when authors do this; it's fun seeing people speaking their native languages on the page because people do this in real life and it adds a touch of realism. I'm also a huge sucker for books about professional women who love their jobs, and I liked especially how the author wrote about what it meant for Lina, as a woman of color, and how it affected her perceived freedom to express her emotions in public. The story about her work as a paralegal was sad.

I honestly wasn't all that sold on Max as a love interest at first, but I ended up liking him more later on in the story. As other readers have said, there was a LOT of talking in the sex scenes-- to show consent and the importance of communication, I think. It wasn't really my cup of tea, but I think I just don't really like it when humor and sex are mixed. I read another chick-lit recently, CRUSHING IT, that did this also, and I didn't really like it there, either. Some people do, though, and I think this is just a matter of personal preference. For me, I thought the sexual tension between the couple and their banter were the best parts, and it was the moments where they opened up and talked about their feelings despite all of their emotional walls and barriers, that really made me swoon.

Anyone who enjoys fluffy romances with fiercely intelligent heroines who love their jobs, have a dry sense of humor, and encounter plenty of drama that won't require you to suspend your disbelief will really like this book. I said on Twitter that I think it would make an excellent movie and I stand by that.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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