The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) by Kristan Higgins

The Best Man book coverSo despite some of my earlier reservations, I’m clearly a Higgins fan now since I can’t stop reading her books.

The Best Man was an enemies-to-lovers one. Faith Holland grew up being in love with Jeremy and intimidated by Jeremy’s best friend, Levi Cooper. Levi was never nice to her. Especially when he convinced Jeremy to come out of the closet just as the two of them were about to say their vows in front of the entire town of Manningsport, New York. After that humiliating debacle, she moved to San Francisco. Jeremy stayed on as the town’s doctor. Levi left the Army and moved back to Manningsport and became the town police chief.

Three years later, Faith returns to Manningsport—temporarily—in response to a mild family crisis. She’s a landscape designer and intends to fix up the family’s old barn so they can do weddings (they own one of the local wineries). She’s also got to keep her father from marrying a rather unpleasant and apparently gold-digging woman.

On her way into town from the airport, she’s pulled over for speeding by none other than Levi. It doesn’t go well for Faith, but it’s also evident they have some serious hostility between them.

He glanced at her license then at her.

“Yes, it’s a bad picture,” she snapped. “Want a tissue sample?”

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary. This has expired, though. Another fine.”

Her eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms under her chest. Still had that great rack.

“How was Afghanistan?” she asked, looking over his shoulder.

“Really great. I’m thinking of getting a summer place there.

They clearly have a ways to go before they get together.

Most of the book centers around Faith and her family and their antics. Faith’s relationship with her family is good, but there’s some tension that doesn’t come to a head until late in the book. When she was twelve, Faith survived a car wreck that killed her mom and she’s always felt that her family sort of blamed her for the wreck. Still, Faith’s voice is great and full of humor.

Faith had dressed for the occasion, oh, yes. One does not meet one’s gay ex-fiancé without looking fantastic. Her cutest San Francisco dress, a bright yellow confection with good seaming and tulle flowers bunched along the hem. In SF, it had seemed like sunshine itself; now, seeing Jessica dressed in black skinny jeans and a black V-neck sweater, Faith felt like a giant kindergartener. Well. At least she had on slutty shoes.

With Levi, it’s the whole town’s antics instead. People call him for the most mundane things, and it’s pretty funny. He crawls under a deck to rescue a chicken from a dog that just wants to be friends. He’s resigned to it.

Levi sighed. More days than not, he imagined that he would die at the hands of Officer Everett Field’s general ineptitude. Alas, Everett was the only child of Marian Field, Manningsport’s mayor, and basically had a job for life. He wasn’t a bad kid, and he had a wicked case of hero worship where Levi was concerned, but he drew his weapon roughly six times a day.

We also see Levi and his younger sister Sarah, who’s in her first semester of college and struggling to adjust. Their mom died a year earlier. Sarah keeps wanting to come home and Levi’s constantly fighting her because he wants her to have the opportunity he didn’t have.

Faith stays with her grandparents at first, but that’s draining so she rents an apartment over the opera house, which turns out to be the same place Levi lives. And Levi happens to be around when she has a medical emergency so he can save the day—and they can get a little closer. It takes some missteps, but they gradually begin to see each other in different lights. It helps that Faith is finally coming to terms with what happened with Jeremy and Levi’s role in it. She and Jeremy are friends again and she’s handling it.

Overall, this was another enjoyable Higgins novel. I laughed out loud several times, cringed in appropriate places, and rooted for Faith and Levi despite the fact that he was kind of a jerk to her. He changes (believably) and so does Faith. You’ll like it if you’re already a fan or if you just like humorous small-town romance.