Narrated by Carly Robins
Best Man for Hire is book three in Tawna Fenske’s Front and Center series which follows the journeys of the four Patton siblings to their respective HEAs. They can be read out of order as they stand alone well.
One thing I noticed about the series when I checked my Goodreads account is that the ones I listened to (now, two) have a full star/grade higher than the one I read. I expect that’s down to the narration and Ms. Robins’s comedic timing which works so well with this author’s humour.
Marine counter-intelligence specialist Grant Patton (all of the Pattons are named after famous US generals) is on leave in Hawaii to attend his sister Sheridan’s wedding. After a creative coin toss, he is chosen to be the best man over his brother MacArthur. Grant has a reputation for being a cross between a boy scout and a teddy bear – except super-hot, muscular and sexy as hell. He’s the good guy – who believes he’s a terrible guy and doesn’t deserve happiness because of something he feels guilty about that happened a decade earlier. Listeners don’t find out exactly what until very late in the piece but what he has in common with his significant other-to-be, Anna, is that he doesn’t want or expect to ever marry.
Anna Keebler is a wedding planner. She specialises in “wild” or “exotic” weddings. When the book first begins, she is talking to a couple who are after a Little Red Riding Hood-themed wedding and over the course of the book, she also is involved in a nudist wedding and a paintball wedding (thankfully these activities weren’t combined – but Ms. Fenske took the opportunity to get the listener to imagine the horror of doing so). As best friends with Kelli, Mac’s wife, she also has the gig to plan Sheridan’s and Sam’s “normal” wedding (Sheridan and Sam are the happy couple from Marine for Hire, book one of the series).
Anna is from Portland but as all of the weddings in the book are in Hawaii, she and her sister, Jenelle (acting as her assistant) are in the islands doing the last-minute preparations and ensuring everything goes well on the day(s).
Anna believes she has such poor relationship judgement herself that she should never get married. She says she doesn’t want to but the listener knows right from the start that’s a lie she’s telling herself. When she meets Grant, she can’t help but be deeply smitten.
Grant, for his part, feels much the same and when, because reasons, Grant ends up doing the photography for the weddings in which he is not the best man, they are thrown together more often until their chemistry boils over into the physical.
While there are some serious matters which underpin the story (namely, the reasons why both Grant and Anna believe they ought never get married) Ms. Fenske has a delightful screwball-type humour which lightens the mood throughout. What I love the most is that she manages to not belittle the heroine or hero in the fun. Sure, there is a bit of humiliation but it’s not mean.
My favourite quote from the audiobook is:
Anna bit her lip, “I can explain.”
Jenelle raised an eyebrow, looking from Anna and Grant and back to Anna again. “You can explain why a strapping marine is standing here with his fly undone, offering to pee on you while he smears your ass with fruit?”
For it to make sense, listeners will have to tune in themselves but, trust me, there is an explanation!
I commented recently in my review of The Hunting Grounds that I thought Ms. Robins excelled in contemporary romance, particularly where there is some humour. My experience of this listen only compounded that view. When the humour called for deadpan, she delivered. When the joke needed something else, that was right there too.
Added to that, Ms. Robins has a believably gruff male “hero voice” and is able to differentiate between characters well so that, for the most part, it was easy for me to tell who was speaking at any given time – particularly this was the case for the female cast. The Patton brothers and Sam were a little similar so I did need to rely on dialogue tags at times however.
There were a few small errors in the narration – he instead of she for example and a couple of times when I felt the emphasis wasn’t quite right within the sentence and for that reason, the narration this time gets a B rather than a B+. That said, the story was a lot of fun and my complaints about Ms. Robins’ performance are very minor indeed – that B+ was really not far away.
Best Man for Hire is a light-hearted contemporary romance which made me smile. Sure, the romance is lightning fast – the story mostly takes place in about 10 days, but I bought the romance and didn’t mind too much about the whole insta-love thing.
TITLE: Best Man for Hire
AUTHOR: Tawna Fenske
NARRATED BY: Carly Robins
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
STEAM FACTOR: Glad I had my earbuds in
REVIEWER: KaetrinBuy Best Man for Hire by Tawna Fenske on Amazon