The Stand-Up Groomsman- Review
The Stand-Up Groomsman
By Jackie Lau
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Donut Fall in Love #2
Publication Date: October 25, 2022
Source: Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 Stars
A bridesmaid and groomsman put their differences aside to get their friends down the aisle in this opposites-attract steamy romantic comedy.
They say to never meet your heroes, but when Vivian Liao’s roommate gets engaged to her favorite actor’s costar, she has no choice but to come face-to-face with Melvin Lee again. He’s just as funny and handsome as he is on-screen…but thinks she is a snob and a sellout. It’s none of his business how she chooses to live her life, no matter how charismatic he is.
Mel is used to charming audiences as an actor and stand-up comedian but can’t connect to Vivian. She’s a smart, talented artist—which is why he thinks she’s wasting her life as a corporate finance drone. The only thing uniting them is their goal for the wedding to go off without a hitch.
As they collaborate on wedding cake and karaoke parties, Mel realizes he might have seriously misjudged this bridesmaid, while Vivian discovers the best man might just be as dazzling off-screen as he is on. With the wedding underway, maybe more than one happily ever after is in the future.
Finishing this book made me want to go back and read Donut Fall in Love. Mel and Vivian are both complex, intriguing characters and I want to see glimpses in them in the previous book. Mel especially with his charm, humor, and anxiety, is one of the most relatable heroes I’ve read in a long time. Vivian, it takes a little while to completely understand but the writing and the storyline means you want to put in the time to truly understand what makes her tick. She has a tough exterior and it’s like the heroine’s I’m used to reading but that’s what makes Jackie Lau’s books so unique. Her characters are glaringly realistic and her anxiety representation is so spot on that a times I makes me uncomfortable.
Vivian and Mel have both misjudged each other when they first met and it takes time for them to see beneath each other’s layers. There are times where Vivian’s prickly exterior drives away Mel’s caring nature but they find their way back to each other. They learn together that in a healthy relationship it is possible to compromise without one person giving up their dreams. Vivian had been burned by that in the past and Mel was scarred by short-lived relationship that never panned out. Jackie Lau always has a fascinating cast of side characters from Mel’s grandmother and her pink limo to Vivian’s family and the pressure to raise her younger siblings. Her side characters are just as complex and never one-dimensional. This book was exactly what I wanted from an author who is quickly rising to the top of my recommendations list!
About the Author:
Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between penning “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels. She is now the author of over a dozen romantic comedies. Learn more online at http://www.jackielaubooks.com.
He shouldn’t be doing this. He really shouldn’t.
But on his way to the bathroom, Mel had happened upon Vivian. He couldn’t help feeling a little bothered that she was out here on her phone rather than inside the party, and he couldn’t seem to stop needling her.
He picked up her phone from the floor and handed it to her.
“Family matters,” she mumbled. “I’m going back in a moment.”
She looked quite handsome and composed today. Her hair—cut in a rather short, asymmetrical bob—was black and shiny, and there wasn’t a strand out of place. Along with her sleek pantsuit, she was wearing crystal earrings that were a little showier than her usual accessories. Not that he’d seen her more than four times, including today, and not that he was counting, but…
She threw him off balance.
Vivian tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, in a way that looked almost regal.
“You didn’t seem terribly excited in there,” he said. “Aren’t you happy for our friends?”
“Of course. But I have resting bitch face.”
“That’s not quite how I’d describe it. More like resting ice queen face.”
“Thank you for using the proper terminology,” she said, deadpan.
He laughed and leaned in closer.
He was five six, and in her heels, she was a couple of inches taller than him. She was all inviting angles and harsh, beautiful lines—nothing like Mel, in other words. Usually, such perfection wouldn’t appeal to him, but for some reason, she was different.
“Don’t you have better things to do,” she said, “than standing out here, talking to me? Shouldn’t you be stealing Ryan’s phone and posting Twitter polls about his abs? Writing jokes about the Easter Bunny encountering a Viking on the Brooklyn Bridge?”
“Great idea.” He took out an imaginary notepad and wrote it down.
She stuck her phone in her purse. “If you must know why I’m out here, my brother needs a root canal and can’t afford it. That’s what I was dealing with.”
That sounded more important than the texts he received from his family, which were mostly Joy sending him pictures of beetles and Mom sending him videos of Po Po singing Andy Lau or Shania Twain at karaoke. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” was a recent favorite. He’d already seen four videos of it.
“Root canals suck,” he said. “My mom needed one recently.”
Vivian looked at him strangely. Was she caught off guard because he wasn’t antagonizing her? Or was she thinking about insulting his fabulous shirt? He would love to see Vivian in one of his bright floral shirts…and nothing else. Preferably with all the buttons undone. It would be quite a contrast to her current look.
He swallowed and put his hand on the wall behind Vivian, and her tongue peeked out of her pale pink lips. Just the tiniest bit, but it was more than the tiniest bit appealing, and his blasted suit pants felt even tighter.
He shot her a lopsided smile, but she seemed unaffected by it. Maybe that was an act, and she was simply used to keeping everything inside her.
He wanted to make her snap.
“Enjoying my animal magnetism?” he asked.
Mel might not have Ryan’s conventional good looks, but according to Lindsay, Vivian had said Mel was the more attractive one on Just Another New York Sitcom.
She shrugged and looked at her nails. “You mentioned something about animal magnetism the first time I met you. You need to come up with some new lines.”
“You remember words I said a year ago. Interesting.”
“I have a good memory. Don’t think much of it.”
“Mm-hmm. You just don’t want to admit how much you like me.”
Being annoying was one of his special skills. Just ask his sisters.
Vivian glared at him. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to separate the art from the artist now.”
He twirled his imaginary mustache, picked up an imaginary paintbrush, and started working on a painting. “Zee waterlilies are magnifique. How can you not appreciate zem?”
“Your French accent is dreadful.”
“I’m aware,” he said cheerfully.
Her mouth curved, and there was something about her slight smile that made desire pump through his veins. When he leaned in slightly, she did, too. Just a little farther and her lips would meet his. It would be—
“Is the washroom down here?”
At the unfamiliar voice, Vivian pushed Mel into the middle of the hallway.
Excerpted from The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau Copyright © 2022 by Jackie Lau. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.