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WINNER UPDATE: Thanks for all the fantastic recommendations, everyone! I can’t wait to dig into more winery-set books/series!! :)
Random.org chose Holli’s comment as the winner of The Perfect Match. Congrats, Holli! Check your email.
 
 

That’s it…where do I apply to become Kristan Higgins’s BFF? She may not be aware of this, but the fact of the matter is, I love her. Reason #1? Her Blue Heron series is set in heaven—er, I mean, at a winery. (Believe it or not, I don’t read many books set at wineries, although I should!)

You may recall I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Best Man. You may even remember me declaring it my favorite Higgins read to date. So how did The Perfect Match compare? Let’s just say my unofficial BFF knocked this one out of the ballpark. Read on for the deets…

The Perfect Match cover

Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Length: 448 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Blue Heron, Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Source & Format: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley; digital
 
Official Summary
What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise? Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. 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 States—and leave Charlie behind. 
 
In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and 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.
 
 

Kindle Gal’s Review

If you like to laugh out loud when you read, then this book is for you! Kristan Higgins is known for infusing a lot of humor in her books. I’ll be honest…sometimes it works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. In The Perfect Match, it TOTALLY worked for me!

The book starts out with Honor Holland at the doctor on her 35th birthday being told her biological clock is running out of time, which unleashes commentary throughout the rest of the story by her aging eggs. Yes, you read that right. Honor’s eggs “speak” to her. And it is seriously hilarious:

The years are precious, egg-wise.

Sigh.

No. Not sigh. Go, team! That was more like it.

We want company! she imagined her tiny, aging eggs demanding. In her mind, they were starting to thicken around the middle, wore reading glasses and were developing an affinity for pinochle.

Don’t age, she warned them. Mommy’s got company coming.

 

Honor is an easy heroine to love. She is the director of operations for the family winery, Blue Heron Vineyards, and loves her work. She’s damn good at it too. Honor’s smart, driven, responsible, and loyal. She is the glue that holds the family business together, and with it, the family. And what a family it is! The Hollands are multigenerational, quirky, and so much fun to read.

Here’s a scene with the whole family during a wine tasting session run by Honor, including her always-bickering grandparents (Pops and Goggy), her widowed father and their longtime housekeeper (Mrs. Johnson), her siblings (Pru, Jack, and Faith), and her niece and nephew (Abby and Ned):

“Everyone ready to taste some excellent wine?” She poured the first, a pinot gris, and held the glass to her nose. Green apple was her first thought, then some vanilla clove. Very nice.

“Anyone getting apple?” Dad asked.

“I am,” Goggy said. “Green apple. Tart.”

“I’m getting red apple. A new red apple. McIntosh,” Pops said.

“It’s definitely green apple,” Goggy said with a glare.

“I get red,” Pops said blithely. “An unripe red apple.”

“Which is a green apple,” Goggy growled.

“Isn’t it time for one of them to go to a nice farm?” Ned whispered.

“I heard that, young man,” Pops said. “Respect your elders.”

“I wish I could,” he said.

“A little limestone, maybe?” Faith said, and Honor nodded encouragingly. Faith hadn’t been around too much in the past few years. It was nice to have her back.

“I’m getting nesberry,” Mrs. Johnson said.

“Oh, yes, nesberry,” Dad agreed, smiling at Mrs. J., who didn’t seem able to meet his eyes.

“What’s a nesberry?” Jack asked.

“I don’t know. But I bet it’s wonderful,” Dad murmured.

“Anyone else picking up some hay?” Pru asked.

“Definitely,” Ned said. “Wet hay.”

“I’m getting overtones of fog and unicorn tears,” Abby said from the couch, “with just a hint of baby’s laughter.”

Honor smiled at her niece . . . This was the culmination of the family’s work. From the care of the soil and vines to the harvest to the winemaking itself, every one of them had a hand in it, big or small. The whole family, taking care of family business. Sort of like the Mob, but a little bit nicer.

 

As much as I love the romance story line in these books, I enjoy the secondary characters and get immersed in all the winery talk as well. It’s a win-win for me as a reader! :)

Besides the winery slant, The Perfect Match also has one of my favorite tropes: the pretend relationship. Tom Barlow is not your usual hero. For starters, he’s a professor of mechanical engineering. He’s also British, boxes in his spare time, and rearranges his entire life for a seriously sullen teenager who was almost his stepson before his fiancée suddenly died. With his work visa expired, Tom needs a green card to stay in the States and be near Charlie. Honor, down on her luck and with her aging eggs nagging her, decides what the hell? and agrees to the setup.

The story evolves in a very natural way. There isn’t a wedding. Honor first moves in with Tom and they fake an engagement. They treat it as a business transaction and quickly find it isn’t easy. Honor is a HORRIBLE liar and Tom is maddenly hot and cold—one moment he’s all-in and able to make even Honor believe he’s madly in love with her, the next moment he doesn’t seem to notice her at all. Add to this a few instances of actual attraction and spark between them, and you have Awkward City. I’ve bemoaned elsewhere how some books I’ve read haven’t done the pretend-relationship trope justice because they do not capitalize on the awkward. But Higgins masterfully finds the awkward and waves the awkward banner around until her characters are close to the breaking point. And I loved every painful moment of it! {inserts evil laughter}

The push and pull between Honor and Tom is fantastically paced, and it’s impossible to not root for them as a couple. There is also an amazing secondary story line with Tom and Charlie, which very nearly broke my heart. Charlie was the kind of character that you wanted to both strangle and hug, and I absolutely LOVED what Higgins did with his story arc!

My only complaint about this book is the ending. To me, it felt forced, and after all that buildup and perfect pacing, it was disappointing. Don’t worry, everything gets wrapped up and there is a happily ever after. I just wanted it to evolve in a more natural way and not feel rushed.

Bottom Line

This is by far my favorite Higgins book to date, which you can absolutely read as a stand-alone novel! I laughed so hard and couldn’t put it down. Not only does The Perfect Match have a fantastic romance, it has a ton of heart with the secondary characters and story lines. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Blue Heron!

Rating: A- (4½ stars)

Wine/Beverage Pairing: A Cabernet Franc, which is what Honor and Tom drink in the cask room when they decide to commit marital fraud.

Buy Digital:  Kindle  |  Nook
 
Buy Print:  Amazon  |  B&N
  

 

The Perfect Match Giveaway

As part of this blog tour, Kristan and the kind folks at Little Bird Publicity are generously giving away a print copy of The Perfect Match to ONE lucky Kindles & Wine reader (U.S. residents only).

To enter for your chance to win, you must:

  1. Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
  2. Hit the comments and tell me: What’s another book/series set at a winery that I should try? If you can’t think of one, tell me what your favorite setting is for books and why you can’t get enough of it.

Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the winner will be notified via email on Friday, November 1.

 
Kristan HigginsABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook.
 
Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a B.A. in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble.
 
Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish. 
 
You can learn more at Kristan’s website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.