May the Best Man Win by Mira Lyn Kelly

may-the-best-man-win

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

Jase Foster can’t believe his bad luck. He’s been paired with the she-devil herself for his best friend’s wedding: Emily Klein of the miles-long legs and killer smile. She may be sin in a bridesmaid dress, but there’s no way he’s falling for her again.

They can barely stand each other, but given how many of their friends are getting married, they’ll just have to play nice-at least when they’re in company. Once they’re alone, more than just gloves come off as Jase and Emily discover their chemistry is combustible, and there may be something to this enemies to lovers thing after all…

Rating: B+

I’m not a great reader of Contemporary Romance, but every so often, a book will catch my eye, usually because friends have enjoyed it. In this case one of my fellow AAR reviewers whetted my appetite for this charming, funny and sexy enemies-to-lovers story.

Emily Klein and Jase Foster have known each other since High School, but even though they ‘like’ liked each other back then, Jase lost the girl to his best friend, Eddie, who plucked up the courage to ask her out first – and like the good guy he still is, Jase backed off. Over a decade later, Jase and Emily still see each other occasionally, but there’s a lot of baggage between them, with each blaming the other over a significant incident in their pasts. When they meet, the gloves just about stay on as they put on a show of amity for their friends while continually sniping at each other and barely masking their dislike.

Recently, they’ve been thrown together more frequently than usual, most often at the weddings of friends at which Jase serves as groomsman while Emily is a bridesmaid. As all these friends have big, expensive weddings (and obviously more money than sense!), there are venues to be scouted, arrangements to be made and rehearsals to be attended; and as if that weren’t bad enough, Jase, at six-feet-five is one of the few men not to be dwarfed by Emily’s five-feet-eleven plus in heels, so their heights mean they’re usually paired up in processions, photos and seating plans.

At their second or third wedding on the trot, Jase and Emily can’t ignore the crackling sexual tension between them and decide that maybe hooking-up “just once – to see what it’s like” will enable them to get past this weird attraction and get back to normal; normal being when they didn’t look at each other and wonder what the other looks like with their clothes off. Only in Romancelandia does that ever seem like a good idea, but in any case, Jase and Emily pretty much scorch every flat surface they can find on more than one occasion, each time telling themselves it’s the last time.

Before long, Jase is realising that “just sex” – even the amazing, mind-numbingly incredible sex they’re having – isn’t enough for him. He doesn’t know exactly what he does want, but he knows it isn’t Emily leaping out of bed and being unable to get away fast enough, or her practically shoving him out of her apartment on the morning after. Then something happens to make him realise that perhaps he might have been wrong in some of the assumptions he made about Emily in the past and to want to get to the bottom of it and clear the air. Even though Emily is skittish, they talk it through and both of them come to understand what actually happened and to accept that things weren’t as they seemed. And Jase comes to another important realisation, too. He wasn’t there for Emily back when she needed a friend, and what he wants more than anything now is to be a friend to her as well as whatever else is going on between them. Emily isn’t quite sure she actually wants Jase as a friend, especially as it seems to mean no more toe-curling sex – but after a false start, decides to try the friendship thing… and discovers she likes it.

I liked the way the book is constructed, with Jase and Emily unable to keep their hands off each other in the first part, and then that side of things taking more of a back seat as the emotional side of the relationship comes to the fore and starts to build; and I really appreciated the way the author has Jase and Emily talking through their issues and looking back with more mature eyes to see that they both made mistakes. That’s not to say that everything in the garden is rosy after that, because even though they seem to be setting into a relationship that is good for both of them, they still have trust and commitment issues to deal with, and I admit that some of the back-and-forth got just a teeny bit irritating. Then when, near the end, Jase throws a major guy-tantrum, it felt like a complication-too-far and caused me to lower my final grade a bit.

Another issue I had was with the sheer number of mutual friends these two have, and the number of those mutual friends who were pairing up to get married. I think if Richard Curtis had been on hand, we’d have had Eight Weddings and – Another Wedding or something! But apart from those niggles, I enjoyed May the Best Man Win, which is a great mix of funny, tender, sexy and sweet. The two central characters have real depth and are likeable and attractive – plus the chemistry between them is off the charts. There’s a strong supporting cast, and I enjoyed the way the relationships between Jase and Emily and their circle of friends were presented. I suspect most of these characters will be getting their own books, and on the strength of this one, I might just pick them up.

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