Strangers Connect BE MY BEST MAN–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m happy to share a review and giveaway for a newly published M/M contemporary romance from Con Riley. BE MY BEST MAN links a jaded older man with a struggling refugee, and it’s a charming blend of cultures.

About the book:
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.

My Review:
Vanya Petrov survived a targeted attack in Moscow for being gay. His appeal to the UK for asylum is still under review and he suffers from PTSD though his life-threatening injuries are now healed. As a petitioner for asylum, he’s unable to earn any money and must subsist on a meager welfare allowance. It’s barely enough to keep him housed in a miserable hostel and fed. It’s been nearly nine months of waiting, with monthly immigration check-ins, and collecting evidence that demonstrates he will be in grave danger should he return to Russia. He develops a friendship with two people at the hostel, Kaspar and Anna, and they band together against thieves and attackers.

Vanya meets Jason at the store where Kaspar works. Jason mistakes him for a personal shopper, and he’s desperate to make himself look better in the eyes of his foster brother, Andrew. Jason’s been a jerk for the past six months, ever since Andrew asked Jason to be best man at his third wedding to a much younger woman, Chantel, whom Jason is sure is a gold digger. Jason’s also sure there’s no such thing as true love and doesn’t want to help Andrew find his way toward another divorce, but he’s also unwilling to let Andrew walk out of his life. So, he attempts to hire the exotic young man he’s not sure is even of legal age to help transform him from a gruff builder into someone presentable. Vanya, having been seduced into trauma before, is wary of Jason’s motives for hiring him, but he’s also desperate. All of their savings has been stolen and he and his friends don’t feel safe living in the hostel. In fact, being near Jason–a home restorer–gives Vanya an inside track on a vacant property where they can squat in safety.

But being near Jason also turns on both fear and attraction, in equal measure, for Vanya. He’s afraid to get caught accepting money for work, to have Jason learn where he’s living, to have Jason learn he’s a fraud and not a personal shopper, to not be granted asylum…there are so many worries in Vanya’s precarious position as an asylum-seeker and he misses his family who have cut all ties. He’s adrift, and sees that same loneliness in Jason–with whom he builds a rapport. In fact, Jason’s life has been lonely, and he and Vanya unexpectedly hit it off. Vanya gives Jason good counsel about the situation with Andrew and Chantel, and Jason recognizes his instincts there have been rotten. Their camaraderie soon builds into a mutual attraction, and turns cautiously physical. Jason doesn’t know much about Vanya, and what he thinks he knows is off the mark, too. So there be struggles, but there also be admiration. Jason very much admires Vanya’s resiliency, his tenacity, and his willingness to help out Chantel with wedding plans pro bono. Though, when he finds out why Vanya won’t take any money for his work, well, it leads to some fireworks. And, some remorse. And, some big apologies.

I loved the interplay between the characters. Kaspar, Anna, Andrew and Chantel are all fantastic supports to Vanya and Jason. Each man is cautious, with his heart and with his words. Jason has a problem with age differences–between himself and Vanya, and between Andrew and Chantal. It takes him a while to come around, but he’s not afraid to make amends when he gets it. Vanya is an amazing character. I haven’t read many stories from the POV of a desperate would-be immigrant, but this felt so very genuine, and the terror, trauma, and anxiety of that situation came through loud and clear. I ached for Vanya to find a full life in London, and with a man he could trust. Jason seems as if he can be that man, but the lies between them are large and dangerous. How they worked through this was good, though I wondered how Vanya could move on so fast to set his plans into motion. Still, the end is beautiful, and a totally happy resolution. I’d read another three books with these guys at the center, that’s how much I adored this one.

Interested? You can find BE MY BEST MAN on Goodreads and Amazon (US & UK).

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Con Riley.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.

When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don’t disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.

Catch up with Con on her website, Twitter, Tumblr, and Goodreads.