The Perfect Match (Blue Heron Series #2)by Kristan Higgins
What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise?
Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And nowa mere three weeks laterMr. 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,
What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise?
Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And nowa mere three weeks laterMr. 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 Statesand leave Charlie behind.
In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenienceand 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 .
Honor Holland is the sensible sister with a sexy secret in Higgins’s slow-building follow-up to The Best Man. Running Blue Heron, the Holland family’s successful upstate New York vineyard, is a full-time occupation. Honor spices up her administrivia-filled life by enjoying hot, hush-hush assignations with her friend Brogan. When Brogan drops the bombshell that he’s getting married to Honor’s supposed best friend, Honor’s unrealistic worldview disintegrates. An extremely stiff upper lip helps her save face, though she does get into a highly uncharacteristic but satisfying fistfight with her former bestie. When Honor first meets cute Brit Tom Barlow, he makes a poor impression, but his desperate need for a green card and her own furiously ticking biological clock convince them to marry for convenience, with all the usual Higgins hijinks ensuing. Off-putting personality traits of the protagonists makes it hard to get into their story, but the eventual payoff is the revelation of truly human emotions and pains that make them characters to root for. (Nov.)
"Well-placed flashbacks; snarky, snappy dialogue; and conflict both tender and traumatic will shove you into love with a perfectly irresistible array of imperfect characters. You'll adore every bit of this story...Higgins' latest is sexy, screwy, funny and fulfilling - a simply radiant read."-USA TODAY on The Best Man
"The result is a deliriously funny story...The Best Man is Kristan Higgin's best book and that's saying a lot."-Eloisa James
"A funny, poignant romance."
-Publishers Weekly starred review, on My One and Only
"Romance fans and lovers of women's fiction will devour this witty and tender novel. Highly recommended." -Library Journal starred review on Somebody to Love
"Both gut-wrenchingly emotional and hysterically funny at the same time...Kristan Higgins writes the books you don't want to end."-#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr
"Higgins specializes in the kind of prose that makes you laugh out loud...hilarious on the surface, but with a bittersweet subtext."-National Public Radio
"Higgins has a special talent for creating characters readers love."-Romantic Times, 4½ stars on All I Ever Wanted
"A heartwarming, multi-generational tale of lost love, broken hearts and second chances."
-BookPage on The Next Best Thing
After proposing to her "best-friend-with-benefits" and being summarily rejected, Honor Holland meets professor Tom Barlow, who needs a green card, and the two agree to a marriage of convenience, risking jail time, their reputations and their hearts. When Honor turns 35, she takes the bull by the horns and proposes marriage to her lifelong best friend, Brogan, a successful sports photographer who enjoys a casual sexual relationship with Honor. Humiliated when he rejects her, Honor admits she wants marriage and children but doesn't have a lot of choices in tiny Manningsport, N.Y. She is surprised when her elderly grandmother connects her with a local professor who needs a green card since his college didn't renew his work visa. Tom desperately wants to stay in the country for his unofficial stepson, Charlie, whose mother Tom was engaged to but died before they were married. Charlie is an angry, bitter teenager who now lives with his indifferent grandparents, so trying to reach him is difficult. Things start to improve when Charlie and Tom spend time with Honor's large extended family, and real affection seems to spring up among everyone involved. On the other hand, Brogan has hooked up with Honor's best girlfriend, Dana, and now, they're over the moon because Dana is pregnant, and Dana is unpleasantly smug toward Honor, whom Dana basically betrayed. Honor is coming to realize that Tom is the true catch, though trying to convince him her feelings are sincere gets more complicated, what with Immigration investigating, Charlie's father back on the scene and Honor's family creating their typical havoc on her otherwise well-ordered life. Higgins takes the familiar marriage-of-convenience trope and modernizes it with her consummate skill in combining tender insight, bright humor and flawless character development. This, the second of the Blue Heron series (The Best Man, 2013), shines with Higgins' capacity for creating complicated layers ultimately laid bare to the most elemental emotions. Another delightful, funny, yet heart-wrenching must-read romance from Higgins.
Read an Excerpt
For a guy who taught mechanical engineering at a fourth-rate college in the middle of nowhere, Tom Barlow was packing them in.
At the university where he'd last taught, there'd been an actual engineering school, and his students were genuinely interested in the subject matter. Here, though, at tiny Wickham College, four of the original six attendees had stumbled into class, having left registration until too late, only taking mechanical engineering because it still had open slots. Two had seemed genuinely interested, until one, the girl, transferred to Carnegie Mellon.
But then, by the end of the second week, he suddenly had thirty-six students jammed into the little classroom. Each one of these new students was female, ranging in age from eighteen to possibly fifty-five. Suddenly, an astonishing array of girls and women had decided that mechanical engineering (whatever that was) had become their new passion in life.
The clothes were a bit of a problem. Tight, trashy, low-cut, low-riding, inappropriate. Tom tended to teach to the wall in the back of the room, not wanting to make eye contact with the hungry gazes of seventy-eight percent of his class.
He tried not to leave time for questions, as the Barbarian Horde, as he thought of them, tended to be inappropriate. Are you single? How old are you? Where 'd you come from? Do you like foreign films/sushi/girls?
Then again, he needed this job. "Any questions?" he asked. Dozens of hands shot up. "Yes, Mr. Kearns," he said gratefully to the one student in the class who was there out of interest in the subject.
According to his file, Jacob Kearns had been kicked out of MIT for doing drugs. He seemed on the straight and narrow now, at least, but Wickham College was a hundred steps down academically. Then again, Tom knew all about shooting himself in the foot, career-wise.
"Dr. Barlow, with the hovercraft project, I was wondering how you'd calculate the escape velocity?"
"Good question. The escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy of your object, along with its gravitational potential energy, is zero. Make sense?" The Barbarian Horde (those who were listening) looked confused.
"Definitely," Jacob said. "Thanks."
Thirty seconds to the bell. "Listen up," he said. "Your homework is to read chapters six and seven in your texts and answer all the study questions at the end of both as well as pass in your term project proposals. Those of you who flunked the hovercraft estimates have to do them again." Hopefully, he could break the Horde with a ridiculous workload. "Anything else?"
A hand went up. One of the Barbarians, of course. "Yes?" he said briskly.
"Are you British?" she asked, getting a ripple of giggles from a third of the class, whose mental age appeared to be twelve.
"I've answered that in a previous class. Any other questions that pertain to mechanical engineering, then? No? Great. Cheerio."
"Oh, my God, he said 'Cheerio,'" said a blonde dressed like a Cockney prostitute.
The bell rang, and the Barbarian Horde surged toward his desk. "Mr. Kearns, please stay a minute," Tom said.
Seven female students clustered around him. "So do you think I could, like, work for an architect or something?" one asked.
"I've no idea," he answered.
"I mean, after this class." She lowered her gaze to his mouth. Crikey. Made him want to shower.
"Pass the class first, then apply and see," he said.
"Do you want to hang out at the pub, Tom?" asked another of the BH. "I'd love to buy you a drink."
"That'd be inappropriate," he answered.
"I'm totally legal," she said with a leer.
"If you don't have any questions related to the lesson today, get out, please." He smiled to soften the words, and with a lot of pouty lips and hair tossing, the Barbarian Horde departed.
Tom waited till the other kids were out of earshot. "Jacob, would you be interested in interning for me?"
"Yeah! Sure! Um, doing what?"
"I customize airplanes here and there. Got a project coming up. It might be good on your CV."
"What's a CV?"
"Sure!" Jacob said again. "That'd be great."
"You can't be using, of course. Will that be a problem?"
The kid flushed. "No. I'm in NA and all that. Clean for thirteen months." He pushed his hands into his pockets. "I have to pee in a cup every month to come here. The health office has my records."
"Good. I'll give you a shout when I need you."
"Thanks, Dr. Barlow. Thanks a lot."
Tom nodded. The head of his department was standing in the doorway, frowning down the hallway, where a cacophony of giggles was coming from the twits. When Jacob left, the man came in and closed the door behind him.
This wouldn't be good news, Tom thought. Droog Dragul (not a shock that he was called Dracula, was it?) had the face of a medieval monktortured, pale and severe. He looked even more depressed than usual.
"Dee cheeldren of dis school," Droog said in his thick accent. He sighed. "Dey are so " Tom winced, fearing the next phrase would be well fed or iron-rich. "Dey are so unfocused." Phew.
"Most of them, anyway," Tom said. "I've got one or two good students."
"Yes." His boss sighed. "And you heff such a vay vith the ladies, Tom. Perhaps we can heff beer and you can give pointers."
"It's the accent, mate," Tom said.
"Mine does not seem to heff same effect, for some reason. Eh heh heh heh heh!"
Tom winced, then smiled. Droog was a good guy. Strange, but nice enough. In the month since Tom had been teaching here, they'd had dinner once, gone out for beer and pool twice, and if the experience had been odd, it seemed that Droog had a good heart.
His boss sighed and sat down, tapping his long fingers on the desk. "Tom, I am afraid I heff bad news. Vee von't be able to renew your vork visa."
Tom inhaled sharply. The only reason he'd taken this job was for the work visa. "That was a condition of my employment."
"I em aware. But dee budget it is too overtaxed for dee court fees."
"I thought you said it'd be no problem."
"I vas wrong. They heff reconsidered."
Tom felt his jaw locking. "I see."
"Vee value your teaching abilities and experience, Tom. Perhaps you vill find another way. Vee can give you till end of semester." He paused. "I em sorry. Very much so."
Tom nodded. "Thanks, mate." It wasn't Droog's fault. But shit.
Dr. Dragul left, and Tom sat at his desk another few minutes. Finding another job in February was unlikely. Wickham College had been the only place in western New York looking for an engineering professor, and Tom had been lucky to get the job as fast as he did. It wasn't a prestigious place, not by a long shot, but that wasn't really the point. This time around, it was all about location.
He couldn't keep his job without a work visa, though it wasn't like Immigration would be breathing down his neck; an employed professor was less of a concern than most of their cases. Still, the college wasn't going to keep him on illegally.
If he was going to stay, he needed a green card.
But first to the rather shabby house he'd just rented, and then to the much better bar down the street. A drink was definitely required.
A few nights later, Tom sat in the kitchen of his great-aunt Candace's kitchen, drinking tea. Only Brits could make decent tea, and though Candace had lived in the States for at least six decades, she hadn't lost the touch.
"That Melissa," Aunt Candace said darkly. "She messed everything up, didn't she?"
"Well. Let's not speak ill of the dead."
"But I'll miss you! And what about Charlie? How old is he now? Twelve?"
"Fourteen." His unofficial stepson had been ten when Tom met him. Hard to reconcile that talkative, happy little boy with the sullen teenager who barely spoke these days.
A fleeting pain lanced through his chest. Charlie wouldn't miss him, that seemed certain. One of those situations where Tom wasn't sure if he was doing any good whatsoever, or if, in fact, his presence made things worse. Melissa, Charlie's mother, was dead, and her brief engagement to Tom qualified him as nothing in the boy's life today, even though Charlie had been just a few months away from becoming Tom's stepson.
Whatever the case, Tom didn't have much choice about whether or not he was staying in the States. He'd emailed his old department head in England, who wrote right back saying they'd take Tom back in a heartbeat. There weren't any other colleges in western New York looking for someone with his credentials. And teaching was what he loved (when the students were actually interested in the subject matter, that was).
And so, Tom had decided to drive to Pennsylvania, visit the only relative he had in this country and start the goodbye process. He'd been in the States for four years now, and Aunt Candace had been good to him. Not to mention delirious with joy when he called after his last class to see if she was free for dinner. He even took her to the mall so she could buy a coat, proving a fact Tom firmly believedhe was a bloody saint.
"Here. Have more pie, darling." She pushed the dish across the table toward him, and Tom helped himself.
"Thanks," he said.
"Lovely town, Manningsport," she said. "I lived near there as a child, did you know that?"
"So you told me," Tom said. His lovely old aunt could bake, that was certain.
"Finish that pie, you might as well. I'm prediabetic or some such nonsense. Then again, I'm also eighty-two years old. Life without dessert is too horrible to contemplate. I'll just overdose on caramel corn and die with a smile on my face. What was I saying again?"
"You used to live near Manningsport."
"Yes, that's right! Just for a few years. My mother was a widow, you see. My father died of pneumonia, and so she packed my brother and me up and came to America. Elsbeth, your grandmother, was already married, so she stayed in Manchester with her husband, of course. Your grandfather. But I remember the crossing, seeing the Statue of Liberty. I was seven years old. Oh, it was thrilling!" She smiled and took a sip of tea.
"So that's how you became a Yank?" Tom asked.
She nodded. "We lived in Corning, and she met my stepfather, and he adopted Peter and me."
"I never knew that," Tom said.
"He was a lovely man. A farmer. Sometimes I'd go with him to deliver milk." Candace smiled. "Anyway, we moved after my brother died in the war. I was fifteen then. But I still have a friend there. More of a pen pal, do you know what that is?" Tom smiled. "I do."
"A pity you have to leave. It's beautiful there." Candy's gaze suddenly sharpened. "Tom, dear if you really want to stay in the States, you can always marry an American."
"That's illegal, Auntie."
He laughed. "I can't see myself going that far," he said. "It might be different ifwell. It's not an option."
It might be if Charlie actually wanted him to stay. Needed him. If Tom were anything but a thorn in Charlie's side, he might give it a whirl.
He had two thin job prospects with manufacturing firms, both requiring experience he didn't have. If those didn't work out (and he was almost positive they wouldn't), he'd be heading back to jolly old England, which wouldn't be awful. He'd be near his dad. Probably meet some nice girl someday. Charlie would barely remember him.
The pie suddenly tasted like ash. He pushed back his plate. "I'd better be off," he said. "Thanks for the visit."
She stood up and hugged him, her cheek soft against his. "Thank you for coming to see an old lady," she said. "I'm going to brag about this for days. My grand-nephew adores me."
"You're right. Ta, Auntie. I'll call you and let you know what's happening."
"If I happen to know someone who might be interested, can I give her your number, dear?"
"Interested in what, Auntie?"
"In marrying you."
Tom laughed. The old lady's face was so hopeful, though. "Sure," he said, giving her another kiss on the cheek. Let the old bird feel useful, and that way, maybe she wouldn't feel so bad when he went back to England.
There was that pain in his chest again.
It took four hours to drive back to Manningsport. Four hours of wretched, icy rain and windshield wipers that smeared, rather than cleared. The weather thickened as he approached the Finger Lakes. Perhaps he wouldn't get in too late to grab a bite (and a whiskey) at the pub he was becoming too fond of. Chat up the pretty bartender and try not to think about the future.
Meet the Author
Kristan Higgins is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been praised for their "genius level EQ, whippet-fast, funny dialogue and sweet plots with a deliciously tart edge" (USA TODAY). She lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband and two extremely advanced children, one shy little mutt and an occasionally affectionate cat.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is the second in the Blue Heron series but can be read stand-alone. I came late to Ms. Higgins and have been devouring everything of hers I can find. She just keeps getting better and better. She writes sweet romance with some steamy fade to black love scenes. But she tells a great story and I adore her characters. I loved seeing under Honor’s perfect façade. She was so strong and perfect in The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) but you just knew there was something going on that was going to make her crack. I LOVE Tom flaws and all. It is so nice to see a positive male role model. This book left me with a smile on my face and a glow in my heart.
I laughed out loud during parts of the book, and cried during others. Touching and entertaining.
Kristan Higgins can't write a bad thing! The book is just as sweet and lovable as her others, and I love that you get to see glimpses of Levi and Faith in this book. I'm hoping that Kristan will write a book about Jack, I would to see more into his life :)
I am a HUGE Kristan Higgins fan and THE BEST MAN (Blue Heron #1) is one of my all-time favorite books, so when I had the chance to read this one, I jumped on it. What I Loved: A colorful cover with obvious romantic flare. Tom is British. The accent alone should entice you to read this book. Did I mention that he boxes, too? With Levi, from THE BEST MAN. Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor, and wipe the drool off my chin. One of the things I enjoy about Kristan Higgins' writing, is that I never fail to connect with at least one of the characters. Regardless of whether it's the uptight slightly intimidating Honor, or a smooth talking British professor like Tom who finds solace in a glass. There is always something to identify with and pull me further into the story. Like all of Higgins' books, this one has a strong family focus and centers around the Holland family which is made up of a colorful cast of characters. But she also sheds a positive light on Tom's relationship with Charlie which is born of love and not blood. The romance that develops between Honor and Tom is not an easy one and begins out of convenience on both their parts. However, it quickly (and hilariously at times) evolves into something honest, strong and ultimately helps them both overcome some of the issues they struggle with. What Left Me Wanting More: I am always a little sad to see a Kristan Higgins' book end. Final Verdict: Humorous and heartwarming addition to the Blue Heron Series. I'm excited for the next installment! Favorite Quote(s): "One! One beeg mistake! Two! Two bad knees!" (Think, The Count, from Sesame Street.)
I laughed and cried and laughed some more. The characters were loveable and I can't wait to read about them again!
Kristan Higgins continues to make me laugh and cry. I really liked The Perfect Match. It kept me entertained and that is what I'm looking. I love the back characters also!
You just can't go wrong when you pick up a book by Kristan Higgins and this one didn't disappoint. I laughed out loud, I cried, but mostly I wanted someone to knock that jealous, backstabbing, BI-OTCH Dana, OUT COLD. I really like this book and to me it's a bonus when you have a dog in the story and talking eggs (LOL)!
Didn't want to put it down
What a great find! the book was thoroughly enjoyable ... a little bit of this and a little bit of that "darling" ... and loved input from the "eggs"! Kristan Higgins is now one of my favorite authors and will now have to go read the rest of books written by her :-)
I enjoyed this Blue Heron novel but would have liked for the relationship between Honor and Tom to develop a bit more. I felt it moved really really fast without much depth. A fun part of the whole story and can be read without reading the other books.
Love this one maybe even more than the first of the series. A perfect summer romance that isn't afraid to tackle real life issues.
Very touching and entertaining read! Had me laughing, smiling, and swooning the whole way through! Another can't miss story by Ms. Higgins!
This is my favorite Kristan Higgins so far (along with Fools Rush In). Fun, quirky characters, sexy chemistry and great prose make for a really good read. If you like this author, I would also recommend Colleen Hoover, Linda Howard, and maybe some of the older books by Tami Hoag.
Well, book 2 of the Blue Heron series was fun, very emotional, but satisfying. More deets on the great characters in this small town. Tom & Faith finding and falling for each other the hard way. Get tissues out for a few of the chapters because their story will tear you up. Recommend this series for those who love small town, quirky charactered love stories!
Good love story, heart wrenching at times. Definitely recommend. S.A.K.
Kristan Higgins writes believable characters who have you laughing one minute and reaching for a hanky the next! I look forward to each of her new books and usually preorder them to make sure I get them as soon as they are released. Can't go wrong with this lady!
Never can go wrong with Higgins.