Her Best Worst Mistake that led me to give Sarah Mayberry a try. It was just the general rumblings making their way through my little portion of the blogosphere. Most recently, Kenda dubbed it "The Biggest Sparkle for My Romance Buck" in her mid-year roundup. Collectively, these sparkly rumblings convinced me to purchase the ebook and see if it was my kind of story. On the surface of things, the cover gave me a Julie James vibe (always a good thing). It also happens to perfectly match one of my favorite scenes in the book, a feat that always earns big points with me. And the fact that it's a contemporary romance set in England did my Sarra Manning-loving little heart good. Her Best Worst Mistake is Mayberry's latest release. It is in ebook form only (at this point) and is both a novella and a spin-off of her earlier Blaze novel Hot Island Nights. In Mayberry's words, "Both stories can be read in isolation and still make perfect sense, but I hope that together they form a neat little duo." Love that. As for myself, I still haven't read the earlier book, but I definitely don't feel like you need to in order to love this one.
Violet Sutcliffe is all the colors of the rainbow. She's vocal and vibrant and not interested in changing. The one thing in this world she loves is her best friend Elizabeth. Her opposite in every way, Elizabeth doesn't make a wrong move. She goes about her life deliberately and methodically and she is engaged to marry a man even more rigid than she is. Violet suffers Martin St. Clair for Elizabeth's sake and Elizabeth's sake only. He's everything Violet despises from too staid to too repressed to too stifling of her best friend. Nevertheless, she's determined to support Elizabeth all the way to the altar if that's what will make her happy. Which is why no one is caught more off guard than Violet when Elizabeth up and severs her engagement and runs off to Australia to find herself and her long lost father (not necessarily in that order). At once relieved and utterly befuddled, Violet tells herself she need never see boring old Martin again. But she can't seem to stop herself from feeling sorry for the poor stiff. And so she stops by his office late one night with a pity gift/peace offering. And thus an unlikely and unwelcome spark is ignited.
Her Best Worst Mistake is deliciously readable. I'm admittedly a fan of the socially awkward guy finding his sea legs so to speak when it comes to romance (hello, Ian from All I Ever Wanted), but I'm not often a fan of falling for your best friend's guy (let alone her fiancé). So this story really could have gone either way for me. I went in cautious and quickly found myself both incredibly at home and incredibly fond of Violet and Martin and their untenable situation. Sarah Mayberry impressed me with her clean, vivid writing style as well as her sympathetic characterization skills. Violet is nothing like me. Neither is Martin, for that matter. But I loved the two of them immediately. Their respective back stories are complicated and they play a direct role in their presents, not only providing explanation for why they are the way they are but for why they've been alone for so long and why they, beyond the shadow of a doubt, belong together. And do they ever. This is not a fade to black romance, and yet each encounter contributed to the book's progression as it underscored their rightness as a pair. It can be difficult to hook me on an introductory novella. I thoroughly enjoy a well-written one tossed in in the middle of a series I'm already in love with, but I don't often connect right off the bat with new characters in an abbreviated length. This was so not a problem here. It honestly felt like a full-length novel and I closed it out perfectly satisfied. I've thought of Violet and Martin countless times since and look forward to returning to their tale in the future. I will also be checking out more Sarah Mayberry after this highly successful foray into her work. Recommended for fans of Sarra Manning and Julie James.
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Dear Author - " . . . a novel with heart, heat, and healing."
Fictionally Inclined - "Mayberry is an expert at crafting relationships."
A Girl, Books and Other Things - " . . . one of my favorite reads of the year so far."
Romance Around the Corner - "It's one of the best contemporary romances I've read this year."
Smart Bitches Trashy Books - "This book is amazing: confident and clever, funny and touching, and wonderfully done."