by Sidney Karger
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Reviewed by PJ
Max Moody thought he had everything figured out. He’s trying to live his best life in New York City and has the best friend a gay guy could ask for: Paige. She and Max grew up next door to each other in the suburbs of Chicago. She can light up any party. She finishes his sentences. She’s always a reliable splunch (they don’t like to use the word brunch) partner. But then Max’s whole world is turned upside down when Paige suddenly announces some huge news: she’s engaged and wants Max to be her man of honor. Max was always the romantic one who imagined he would get married before the unpredictable Paige and is shocked to hear she’s ready to settle down. But it turns out there’s not just one new man in Paige’s life—there are two.
There's the groom, Austin, who’s a perfectly nice guy. Then there's his charming, fun and ridiculously handsome gay younger brother, Chasten, who is Austin's best man. As Paige’s wedding draws closer, Max, the introverted Midwesterner, and Chasten, the social butterfly East Coaster, realize they’re like oil and water. Yet they still have to figure out how to coexist in Paige’s life while not making her wedding festivities all about them. But can the tiny romantic spark between these two very different guys transform their best man supporting roles into the leading best men in each other’s lives?
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book and its debut author, Sidney Karger. What I discovered was a fun, breezy story with laugh-out-loud humor and a surprising amount of depth. While the book is a rom-com, it's not all romance and comedy. Primarily, it's a story of fractured relationships, enduring friendships, personal growth, and endearing romance. It made me smile. It made me feel like these characters were my friends. It made me feel like I had an active investment in their happiness.
While the three main characters - Paige, Max, and Chasten - are all well drawn, with layers, and varying degrees of growth throughout the book, it's Max whose evolution takes center stage. This introverted, soft-hearted, romantic, slightly awkward thirty-something who hasn't quite found his path in life yet, either professionally or romantically, wormed his way into my heart and had me in his corner, cheering him on pretty much the whole way. His frequently awkward and rocky road to self-discovery hit me right in the feels. All the feels.
Karger does a good job of showcasing the thirty-year friendship between Max and Paige, imbuing it with realistic ease, inside jokes, shared memories, and the knowledge that enduring relationships of that length still have the ability to shift and grow.
I wasn't sure about Chasten at first. In fact, I was initially not a fan. However, once the author began slowly peeling back his layers to show us - and Max - the man underneath the social butterfly persona, my affection for him began to deepen. Enough that by the end of the book I was actively rooting for good things to happen for these two.
The book has a slow start and a few too many wordy descriptions that I found myself skimming. However, once it hit its stride a few chapters in, I was happily flipping pages all the way to the end...though I still skimmed some of the more lengthy descriptions. I enjoyed the witty banter, laughter, and sarcasm that had these relatable characters leaping off the page. I liked the realism of the friendship between Max and Paige. I chuckled, even as I cringed, during Max's awkward moments. I drooled over Chasten's cooking, baking, and chocolate making. And, by the time I reached the sweetly endearing conclusion, I couldn't stop either the happy tears or the ear-to-ear grin.
It was interesting to read my first male-centered rom-com written by a man. It definitely gave this book a different vibe and perspective, one that I enjoyed. I'll be watching to see what Sidney Karger brings to readers next.
Have you ever been a bridal attendant? Was it nerve wracking or easy peasy?
I'm not kidding when I say I spent a lot of time drooling over the food in this book. What's your go-to breakfast specialty (to make or eat) when guests come to call?
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