Length: 260 pages
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?
After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya's vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.
According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.
Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.
Age gap, a Russian immigrant, and an older man with a heart of gold and you have Con Riley's newest book, Be My Best Man. I'm a huge fan of Riley's so I was really excited to read this book and it sure did live up to all you'd expect from her. A luscious, tender romance, characters that are memorable and genuine, and prose that's as beautifully written as it is brilliant.
Vanya Petrov fled his Russian homeland to seek asylum in Britain after suffering a violent attack for being gay. He's alone and scared and lives each and every day in constant turmoil and the uncertainty of being able to remain in Britain is a constant, heavy worry. I have to say that right away this story arc really got to me. Hard and straight in the gut. This is such a real world problem that so many face every single day and Riley does such an excellent, poignant job of portraying just how harrowing the journey to being granted asylum really is. So, you know from the beginning of the book that there is going to be some heaviness to the book, but never fear, it doesn't overwhelm or drag you down. Vanya is such a sweet, endearing soul that anytime he's on the page, you can't help but smile. His broken English is touching and his yearning to find a place to be safe just pulls at all your heartstrings. A case of mistaken identity brings he and Jason Balfour together.
From the very first moment these two look at one another, there's a pull that can't be denied. Jason is having a bit of crisis after a falling out with his foster brother, Andrew, in which he boldly and loudly proclaims his disbelief in his brother's pending marriage. Meaning, he doesn't believe it will last, and tactlessly tells Andrew thus resulting in punches being thrown. Jason feels bad, of course he does, and after a heart-to-heart with Andrew, promises to make an effort to get to know his future sister-in-law and to make an attempt to make a good impression. Which leads Jason to an upscale clothing store, one where Vanya's only friend Kaspar works and Vanya spends some of his free time so he's not in the hostile environment of the hostel where he stays. Vanya gathers his courage when he sees Jason looking completely out of place and picking out totally inappropriate ties and from the very first awkward, bumbling moment, you know where these two are headed. And boy is it ever a sweet journey to watch!
The romance that slowly builds between Jason and Vanya is everything a great romance should be. Shy, awkward moments. Feelings of joy and insecurity and giddiness. The anticipation of the first kiss, the first touch. Those heated glances that convey so much, even when no words are spoken. Vanya's situation is precarious and getting involved with Jason isn't something he SHOULD do, but it's something he desperately wants. Jason is so protective, so caring toward Vanya that everything in you wants there to be smooth sailing for these two, which of course you know there are going to be some bumps along the way. The thing that Con Riley does so well here, and in all her books, is that there isn't any contrived angst or drama, no over the top antics or temper tantrums, just two men trying to work things out as best they can. I appreciate that so much.
Be My Best Man was such an enjoyable read. Sure there were moments of heartache, but the romance and the characters make that all so worthwhile. I can promise once you start you won't want to stop reading until the end because you'll be so involved with Vanya and Jason that nothing else matters; I know I was. I highly recommend this book, and really all of Con Riley's work. She's one of those authors who never fails to deliver. Do yourselves a favor and be sure to check out Be My Best Man.
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Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.
When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don't disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.
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