The Worst Best Man (4 stars)
3 years ago, Lina’s fiance Andrew broke up with her the morning of their wedding – via a text to his brother, Max. After a drunken night, Max woke up to a text that whatever he had said had made Andrew realize it wasn’t right. Unfortunately Max can’t remember the night before, but he bites the bullet and breaks the news.
By association (not to mention his mysterious advice), Max ranks right up there with Andrew on the asshole brother scale. As if the groom missing the wedding isn’t bad enough, Lina is also a wedding planner so it is also is a bit of a professional embarrassment. So when she has the opportunity of a life time, and discovers that the brothers will be a big part of her success or failure, she freezes and pretends this is their first meeting.
Andrew and Max are both in marketing, and they work for their mother; Max has been waiting for an opportunity to distinguish himself from his older, “perfect” brother. When their client, a hotel owner, decides she wants to interview her two candidates for a new wedding planner position at her hotel via competing pitches, it’s the perfect opportunity to show what he can do without Andrew, and how much Andrew has actually been relying on him. Given the choice between brothers, Lina chooses the lesser of two evils as her pitch partner.
Of course, Lina doesn’t actually plan to use Max for any help, and only to involve him enough to seem like she is following the rules, but Max is persistent, and eventually convinces her to use his services. Now, initially some of this also allows Lina some petty revenge and pranking as she invites him to boring and tedious tasks.
Lina has put a lot of pressure on herself – her mother and aunts are all strong women that have overcome obstacles and worked hard to give Lina and her cousins opportunities. As a result, she feels she owes them and must succeed. While Max at first views Lina as cold and distant, he realizes there is more she is hiding behind that. Lina used to be the emotional one in her family, but after a previous work failure, she is aware of how emotion is perceived when displayed by a black woman of Latin descent, and that she rarely has the freedom to express it.
I quite enjoyed the relationship that developed between Lina and Max. Lina’s family is hilarious, and there was just the right mix of humor with emotional discoveries. This novel felt like a Hollywood rom-com in book form, and for me, it worked really well. It might not be groundbreaking, but it was an incredibly fun, breezy and diverse comfort read.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown (2 stars)
So … I know it’s not necessary to read romance novels in order; in fact, I have read quite a few series out of order. However, everyone was raving about Take a Hint, Dani Brown so I figured I’d check out her previous novel first. And it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like Chloe that much. Chloe has fibromyalgia and chronic pain. Due to her condition, she has had quite a few people in her life fail her, and it makes her very standoffish, and protective of herself, not letting anyone into her life to prevent them from disappointing her. A lot of her life is dictated based on managing her illness, and after years of living with it, she understands her body, her limits and knows when she can follow her plans and when she needs to adjust. After a brush with death, Chloe realizes she has let her illness manage her life, and that she needs to change her life up in a reasonable way, starting with moving out from her parents’ home.
Redford Morgan, “Red,” is the super of her new building, and he has a great relationship with all the tenants – with the exception of Chloe. Chloe is the difficult tenant – she is prickly, and while she later is able to justify everything she has done, to an outsider, she is basically unforgiving, rigid and rude. Now, I understand how her illness would make her rigid in many ways and how it would make her stick to schedules and routines – but an elderly neighbor accidentally opened her mail, and Chloe retaliates by pour tea in the woman’s mailbox. I guess it’s supposed to be a way to show that Chloe has a temper and is misunderstood, but it also makes her harsh. I understand how her circumstances have shaped her, but that doesn’t mean they excuse her actions.
Red’s story is the more interesting of the two to me as he also has some drama in his background; he was an up and coming artist, and after progressing, withdrew. A friend hooked him up with the super job and he has used it to regroup. He is still painting but it is nothing like the art he used to make, and he worries whether he has lost himself.
In other words, Red and Chloe are both damaged with trust issues stemming from different things. Red especially has concerns about class given previous relationship experience, and Chloe come from a privileged background while Chloe’s views are colored by her illness and how it is been disregarded and written off by former friends.
Hibbert writes both characters with empathy, but I just didn’t understand the attraction or see much chemistry, so I wasn’t invested in their relationship. While I thought it was interesting to learn about Chloe’s life and the spotlight on her condition, I just didn’t really enjoy her that much. I appreciated how Hibbert used Red to explore some interesting drama that isn’t addressed often, but except for that, he was not a memorable hero to me; he was just generically nice and supportive and sweet, but other than his circumstances, nothing really stands out about him.