3.25 stars - Reviewed for Wit and Sin
A wedding planner left at the altar who is forced to work with the best man who helped ruin her wedding-that-wasn’t? Sounds like a great recipe for an enemies-to-lovers romance to me. But to say I’m divided on how I feel about The Worst Best Man is pretty accurate. I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book and there are a few times I contemplated just not finishing it. I’m glad I resisted, for the second half is wonderful.
Let’s get the bad out of the way, shall we? Lina was left at the altar by Andrew, who hints that his brother and best man, Max, may have said something that spurred him to ditch his own wedding. Since he was drunk at the bachelor party, Max doesn’t remember what he said. Three years later, Max and Lina are paired together to present a pitch that could be a big deal for Lina’s business and help Max get out of his brother’s shadow at work. The problem is, Lina still holds Max responsible for what happened on her wedding day. Why, when it was Andrew who left her at the altar and didn’t even have the decency to tell her himself? I’m not really sure. It would have made sense if (1) Lina had been in love with Andrew and still brokenhearted three years later (she wasn’t, she isn’t, and she barely spares him a thought) or (2) Lina and Max had a friendship or some form of relationship before the wedding that made Max’s behavior feel like a betrayal (they barely knew each other). Since neither of these are the case, Lina’s attitude toward Max and the ways she tried to punish him came across as juvenile, even though I can see why Lina might have wanted a target for her anger and embarrassment (even if that target didn’t deserve it). I wanted to shout at Max to cut his losses and run for it. What made me stay with this book was Lina’s relationship with her loving family and author Mia Sosa’s infusion of Brazilian culture. Lina is a first generation Brazilian American and Ms. Sosa does an incredible job of weaving her heritage into this book. She also does a great job of showing why Lina tries so hard to control her emotions, confronting the bias and dismissiveness Afro-Latinx women face in the workplace when emotions get involved. Ms. Sosa does this so well that I stuck with the book even though I was incredibly frustrated by Lina and Max’s interactions. I’m so glad I did.
Once Lina and Max start to lean into their mutual attraction and the emotional pull between them, The Worst Best Man shines. The two of them start to grow, to confront their fears, wounds, and vulnerabilities. The second half of this book is fantastic; funny, heartwarming, charming…there’s so much to enjoy. I loved that Max was a safe space for Lina to let down her guard. He’s a genuinely good, thoughtful, dependable man who deserves to be seen for all that he is on his own. And I love that Max saw the real Lina and fell for all that she is. He doesn’t try to change her professional image, doesn’t suggest she become someone else to win a job, but supports her every step of the way. It’s not a smooth road to happily ever after for these two, but you understand the bumps in the road and it becomes easy to root for them. So while I’m torn on how to rate this because I had such differing views on the first versus the second half, I will say that I was very happy with how Lina and Max’s story ended and I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Sosa’s work.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.