Vanya has escaped Russia after nearly being killed by those who lured him into a meet up from an online dating service situation solely because he was gay. He is seeking asylum in the UK, but has yet to be successful and therefore is unable to get a job or do much of anything but try to survive on the stipend the UK government gives him while he waits for legal entry into the country. While visiting his friend at a department store, Vanya runs into Jason Balfour who is in desperate need of a makeover from head to toe.
Jason has just had a fight with his foster brother over the girl he intends to marry—it will be his brother’s third marriage and Jason is skeptical, to say the least, that this girl is any better than the two before her. But Jason hasn’t even met the girl and now in order to patch things up with the brother he loves and who has been by his side for many years, he must make a good impression despite feeling that the girl is not much more than a gold digger. When Vanya tries to helps Jason pick out a tie, Jason mistakenly thinks that Vanya works at the store and when Vanya finally convinces him he does not, Jason then leaps to the conclusion that Vanya must be a personal shopper and this time Vanya doesn’t dissuade him from that belief.
The money Jason offers will help Vanya and his friend rent an apartment, which means no more dirty, dangerous hostel living for them. But Vanya never counted on Jason being so kind and caring. Every time Vanya tries to tell Jason why he is really in the UK and that he isn’t a legal resident yet, something always comes up to stop him from confessing. Now, with time running out and Jason getting more eager to be in Vanya’s life, secrets are going to be spilled. Vanya just hopes it won’t mean the end of his budding relationship with Jason and a chance for the happiness that has always been just out of reach.
Con Riley does romance like no other author around. Building characters that stick with you—that creep under your skin and lodge themselves into your heart, made her latest novel, Be My Best Man, just an incredibly lovely story. I cannot describe how satisfying this novel was for me. I enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to wrap Vanya up and keep him safe multiple times during the story. I loved how Jason was just a nice guy—one who admittedly was a bit obtuse when there was ample evidence before his eyes that Vanya was not the well paid shopper he thought him to be, but nonetheless a man who treated Vanya tenderly and with great respect.
The cast of side characters from Jason’s brother, Andrew, to Vanya’s friend, Kaspar, and their respective girlfriends made this story even better. I really enjoyed this novel from beginning to end. The chemistry between Vanya and Jason felt real and unforced. The pacing of their relationship and the burden of the many secrets Vanya carried with him came together to make the book a fast read for me. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Never once did I feel that Vanya dwelled on his victimhood (although he certainly could have given what happened to him), but instead I felt his strength and courage to keep going despite the trauma he endured and the way in which it’s aftereffects continued to haunt him.
In the end, I can say that Be My Best Man by Con Riley was one of the most enjoyable romance novels I have read in a long time. I highly recommend it to any who want a beautiful romance replete with healing, comfort, and a lovely happy ever after.