Tag Team Review: Be My Best Man by Con Riley

~ Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?

After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya's vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.

According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.

Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.


R *A Reader Obsessed* - 4 Hearts

This was my first Con Riley and I’m quite the happy reader!

What’s not to love about a traumatized immigrant from Russia (a virgin, no less) who falls for an older man? Not much. Not much at all.

First you have sweet Vanya, who’s barely survived a violent attack and is desperately trying to gain British asylum. For now he’s safe, but until he’s deemed officially legal, he cannot earn an honest wage. Thus, Vanya is barely scraping by; he and his friends struggling to stay safe and save up for a better place to live. Since Vanya is in this waiting limbo, he often hangs out at his roommate’s workplace, an upscale department store. Through a series of events, he’s sorta mistaken for a personal shopper and is hired by a rough and tumble man who’s in need of a makeover. If caught earning money, Vanya could be deported, but his desperate situation makes it very hard to say no to some easily earned cash.

Enter Jason. When he voices his objections to his brother’s 3rd pending marriage, his lack of tact gets him in trouble. Since he’s gone too far, Jason has to show that he’s trying to get to know his future sister-in-law to make amends and hence, needs to make a very good impression. Insert Vanya here. Is this situation really plausible or reasonable? Not really. However, it somehow works, and thus a slow burn begins between these two.

I admit age gaps can easily turn me off (and this one is a whopping 22 years), but when done right or when the gap is not the main issue, it’s a nice added touch. Of course, the main dramatic bomb hanging over our heads is Vanya’s secret that he isn’t some big wig fancy shopper, and though he knows he must tell the truth, he so desperately hangs onto whatever happiness he can get with Jason before he can make himself do so. Of course, the hole deepens, making it harder and harder to speak up. Honestly, I could’ve done without this drama, but it is what it is.

Overall though, this had a lot of what I like in a romance -twisty doubt and insecurity, all entwined in some great tender UST. The heat level is decent with some delicious buildup, and despite being a bit sparse on the details, it was still plenty sexy. Vanya is also a character to root for. He’s had it rough and has lost much. He aches for his old life and family, but Vanya is not broken. He’s optimistic, hopeful, determined, and takes pleasures in the small things that reaffirm his tenuous freedom. Jason in turn, is protective, caring, as well as vulnerable too because of a rocky past. He sees Vanya’s genuine kindness and honesty, and wants for the first time, in a long time, to have someone to care for, to have someone notice him and his details and to return the favor.

It really was a pleasure watching these two fall in love.

So yes, this was a great romance despite the inevitable obvious conflict, and I unexpectedly and quickly breezed right through - a huge indicator to me of just how much I enjoyed this!

Thanks to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sara - 5 Hearts

I once said I loved Con Riley’s words so much I would marry them and that hasn’t changed. I have read everything the author has written and I have yet to find one of her books I haven’t fallen in love with.

Be My Best Man is no exception to my marriage vow and right now, I want to hug the hell out of her. The author took on the job of tackling such a political climate with respect and responsibility to these troubling times but not weighing the book down with it and giving us a wonderful romance full of hope. It’s a balance that compliments the romance as well as Jason and Vanya complement one another.

Ugh. Where to start this review? Jason and Vanya meet at a department store where Jason is waiting to hear back from his foster brother, Andrew and Vanya is hoping to improve his conversational English while hanging out with his best friend and roommate Kaspar. Jason mistakes Vanya as a salesperson and after Vanya suggests a few ties that Jason doesn’t buy, they both make a lasting impression on one another.

Told through the dual POV’s of both our MC’s we learn right away the trouble Jason is going through with his foster brother Andrew, that they had words and Andrews accidentally gave Jason a black eye. But Jason kinda deserved it. I mean, he said some horrible things about the young lady Andrew intends to marry and then Jason ends up being in the exact same situation so karma works in this sense.

But Vanya, goodness. We meet Vanya in the immigration centre as he waits to hear the status of case and the asylum he seeks in Britain. Vanya has left his homeland of Russia after being assaulted and disowned from his family and is now in the process of starting a new life in London. Without a Visa, there isn’t much he can do until he is legal and that includes getting an actual job. Vanya has left a full life behind, he was almost done with classes to become and elementary aged teacher and meeting Jason is a chance at something he can’t let slip away.

You see, Jason assumes with how Vanya looks, dresses and his ability to pick out a tie in a Bond Street department store that Vanya is a personal shopper. Considering Andrew has quietly demanded that Jason clean up his appearance to impress his fiancée leads Jason to track down Vanya and offer him the paid task of dressing Jason smartly. It’s an opportunity for Vanya to earn money under the table and help save for a real place to live with Kaspar.

Wow. There is so much in this story to talk about but it would be spoiling it. The level of emotions the book pulls you through are stunning and angst ridden that I couldn’t stop reading and finished this book in a single Sunday. We go through a lot with Jason and Vanya both together and on their own. They both have demons to face, regrets to leave behind and a chance at a future with someone that is so stunning, they are blinded to any fault that cracks the surface of their romantic bubble.

I really liked Jason. I felt for him as he tells the story about moving in with Andrew and his mum as a foster child and how they accepted him fast and fully into their little family. He will do whatever he can to not hurt Andrew and while he’s made assumptions about Andrew’s fiancée Chantel, Jason is forced to eat one extra-large piece of humble pie as he begins to fall for Vanya, as the brothers find themselves in similar relationships.

Watching Vanya and Jason go from a business transaction to friends then lovers was beautiful. This is slow burn romance that focuses on the importance of family which if you’ve read a Con Riley book is always a central focus. I love that the author does that, she infuses love and acceptance of every kind into her work and it’s permeates from the page and you absorb it through your pores. It’s impossible to read this book and not feel. Try it. I dare you.
I found the way Vanya goes about learning English to be adorable and admirable. I can’t imagine having to learn…everything in a new way how he must to acclimate to a new country. Heck, I have a hard time changing how I take my coffee but Vanya finds intriguing ways to learn not only English, but British slang as well so he can truly converse with anyone and help his asylum case.

So while Jason and Vanya are becoming closer, Vanya is keeping “white lies” about his alien status, where he lives and why he is in the country from Jason. In the grand scheme of things, these are important things but the way the men feel about one another, the lessons they learn through their love and others around them is the real heart of this romance.

Now that’s not saying this isn’t one hell of a sexy read, because it is. The age gap between Jason and Vanya makes this delicious and when you throw in Vanya’s inexperience, it’s time to dig in and get it on. Yeah, the intimacy mixed with the sex that give whispered declarations, mirrored encounters and even first kisses will give you so many feels, you‘ll want to go back and read them again. I know I did.

But this book… it’s so wonderful I can’t describe it. The love that Jason and Vanya find is gorgeous. The love that Andrew and Chantel find that builds and repairs bridges is lovely and Kaspar and Anna lend another love story to the bunch and it’s all so amazing. This book is full of so much love and hope among the political background of Brexit and what’s happening to gay men in other countries that it was a blessing to read.

That epilogue just about killed me with feelings but I adored the hell out of it.

Be My Best Man is multicultural romance among a politically charged state of being. It’s a love story that defies the odds of finding love in a hopeless place and gives the reader a glimpse inside the life of a displaced man seeking asylum in a country that currently doesn’t want his kind.

That cover is amazing showcasing the wispy, vulnerable yet determined nature that is Vanya down to the color choice for reasons you’ll get when you read the book and I am in love with all of it.

Con Riley has done it again and my marriage to her words must begin with a ransom because, how freaking adorable was that?

See the Be My Best Man release blitz HERE!

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