Review Tour: Be My Best Man by Con Riley

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About the Book 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.

The Finer Details

Narrative Arc: Standalone

Publication Date: September 7, 2017
Publisher: Figment Ink Ltd (Self-Pub by Con Riley)
Editor: Labyrinth Bound Edits
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh, Black Jazz Design Website
Length: Novel, 260 e-book pages
POV: 3rd person, limited to two main characters
Tense: Present
Pairings: Male/Male
Identities: Gay
Age Range(s): 40 to 44, 22 to 25
Genre(s): Contemporary

Tropes and Tags: slow burn, chosen family, opposites attract, age-gap
Settings & Locales: London, England
Ending: HEA

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Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author via Signal Boost Promotions.

Back Porch Thoughts


Rating 4.5 Stars

4.5 Stars

Rating Info

Ratings stick closely to the GoodReads standards. Occasionally I’ll make note of half-star ratings and will typically round up on GoodReads reviews and other sites where I may cross-post.

Stars Goodreads  What this means to me
5 AMAZING This totally knocked my socks off, and I might end up a crazed fan (from a respectable distance).
4 Really Liked This was truly enjoyable, and I’d recommend it.
3 Liked It was good, and I’m glad I read it, but I may have had some issues.
2 It was okay I finished it & kept hoping for improvement. I definitely had issues.
1 Didn't like I read the whole thing but....
1 DNF Didn't like I read past 50% (at least) before giving up.
0 DNF No Rating I couldn't even make it to 50%, but I still feel the need to share my thoughts.



Y’all, I gotta tell ya, Con Riley is one of my most favorite authors — one that sends me into fits of glee with every book I stumble across or have tossed my way with a subtle ‘pssst.’

Each and every Con Riley book is a treasure, a delightful treat that immerses me into a realm of small kindness, thoughtful prose, and always with a pace that ebbs and flows just the right way. Her stories take me to places I want to linger, with characters I want to keep close after their story ends.

Be My Best Man is a slow-burn opposites-attract story with an age and culture gap. It delves into the turmoil of Vanya, an asylum-seeking Russian who is not permitted to work without proper documentation, yet must survive and keep himself safe while learning the language in a place that may or may not want him. He’s slow to trust, slower to accept help, and even more hesitant to share his story.

Jason, a restoration contractor of historic buildings, is…a bit of a mess — in his appearance and in the snap-judgment way he perceives the folks around him.

A chance meeting between these two starts a journey of serious miscommunication as well as some desperately needed personal growth for Jason and a more fortified path toward independence and self-esteem for Vanya.

Though miscommunications and lies of omission, generally grate on my ever-last freaking nerve, I can’t place a whole lotta blame on Vanya. For one, his English skills are in development (though with rapid-fire improvements because of his stout determination). Also, Jason (and everyone Vanya spends any time with) is patient and encouraging. Jason, despite his patience when Vanya spoke, was quick to judge, quick to assume, and way too quick to draw unfounded conclusions rarely affording Vanya the opportunity to correct the situation. Not to mention, Jason became a safe-space for Vanya when much of his daily-life was a fight for survival….why would Vanya want to risk rejection?

This story is lovely, made even more so by trips to the English countryside, escaping the grit and Vanya’s struggles to survive in the city. And where Jason’s brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law offer a few twists that help calibrate Jason’s perceptions of failed relationships, age-gaps, and quick judgments.

I laughed, I cried, my heart ached for Vanya…and I might’ve wanted to pop Jason upside his head a time or two so that he’d tune in to the truths Vanya was able to provide while still holding quite a bit close to the vest.

Also, I wanted the miscommunications to be resolved sooner with maybe slightly less dramatics. But at the moment where I became most frustrated, just a few minutes before all the secrets were blown wide open, I’d sort of had to put myself in check because I knew Con would get us there all in due course. Maybe, just maybe, in all the times I felt Vanya could’ve laid it all bare I needed to take an extra second to empathize with the totality and weight of his uncertain future, the life-threatening horrors he’d escaped, the family he’d left behind, and the depth of his gut instincts for self-preservation when Jason was an unlikely source of light and warmth he may not be able to fully trust. This was a journey. For both of them. For all of us. So…maybe I started to get a little impatient. But, well, the journeys that are worth it take time. Learning to trust takes time. And just that little bit of a reminder to empathize with the why of it all was the kick in the pants I needed.

The plot is nuanced with many delicate threads woven together in their own round-about ways to give Vanya and Jason a believable HEA firmly cemented with a thoroughly EPIC epilogue.

A win!

About the Author

Author Con RileyCon 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 instead. 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.


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