What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise? Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn’t easier said than done.
Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind.
In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn’t easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love.
Source: eARC through Harlequin HQN/Netgalley for review purposes
This second book in the Blue Heron series is about Honor Holland, the “boring” middle child of a family of winemakers in a small town New York, Manningsport. On her 35th birthday, which she celebrates by getting a pap smear, she is gobsmacked by the realization that her eggs are getting older and if she wants children, she better get on it, already. So she turns to her oldest friend, the guy she’s been in love with for sixteen years and sleeping with off and on since they lost their virginity to each other. Brogan loves Honor, but not in that way, which crushes Honor. A few weeks later, Honor is further humiliated and broken over the fact that Brogan and Honor’s best friend, Dana, are not only dating and sleeping together, but they’re engaged!
Tom is an engineering professor at a local college and trying to stay in the life of his almost stepson, Charlie, whose mother died a few years before. He has a tenous relationship with the boy, who seems to blame Tom for his mother’s death and is sullen and uncommunicative. When Tom is told that his work visa will not be renewed, he becomes despondent and begins to start thinking about how he can stay in the country, including marrying for a greencard.
Well, Honor and Tom are fixed up and he is a complete ass to her and she decides she’s not into it, which is totally understandable. Then she continues to try to find someone to help her to get over Brogan and maybe become her companion/life partner because she’s very ready to settle down and get started with the baby making.
Tom begins to think maybe it won’t be so bad to go back to England. It’s not as if Charlie truly wants him around. But then Charlie shows a little ray of something that Tom latches onto and he changes course, determined to mine this and hopefully let Charlie know that he will be there for him.
I loved this book. There, if you read no further, know that. First of all, Honor’s family is completely hilarious and absurd and adorable. I want to be in this family. A lot of time, Kristan Higgins’ heroines are kind of doormats, in that if someone does something mean or downright unbelievably wrong to them, they will just take it and not really, but nearly, play the martyr. But when Honor found out about Dana and Brogan, she came out swinging, which I totally appreciated, almost as much as a drunk Tom watching them did. I love reading about women my age who are smart and have it almost all together, but there is a little something that they feel is missing from their life. Honor did not sit idly by and let stuff happen to her. She was content with her life for the most part, but being betrayed by her best friend and losing who she thought was the love of her life lit a fire under her. She put herself out there and became proactive in her persuit for what she wanted. I loved her.
Tom was a lot of fun as well. I loved how he just happened to be there a lot of the time when Honor needed rescuing. The Britsh accent, his lips, his abs…I think I fell in love a little with him, too.
Another point I wanted to make about this book is how funny it is. All of Kristan Higgins books are really funny, but this one took the cake. How does it compare to my favorite, Just One of the Guys? Let’s put it this way, if these two books were in the boxing ring, it would be a draw. And while Tom is no Trevor, he was pretty great. He had issues, as all great heroes do, but he never gave up on Charlie, which broke my heart a little, in the best possible way.
The romance is a slow build because they kind of don’t really like each other in the beginning, though they are attracted to each other. Tom’s issues with love were an important factor for him to hold himself back but Honor, despite her recent heartbreak, was an all in kind of girl. It was satisfying to see them come together, watching Tom reluctantly lose his heart to Honor.