The Stand-Up Groomsman
by Jackie Lau
Publication Date October 25, 2022
Published by Penguin
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Genres: Fiction / Asian American, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***
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.
The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau is the second book in her popular Donut Fall in Love series but can be easily read as a stand-alone. This romantic comedy is laugh-out-loud funny with an endearing romance.
Vivian Liao’s roommate just got engaged and has asked Vivian to be her bridesmaid. Vivian is excited until she finds out that Melvin Lee will be the best man. Vivian doesn’t know Mel well, but when they met, Mel made derisive remarks about Vivian’s career in finance. She loves his comic routine and watches videos of him online, and has gone to his shows when he is in Toronto, but she knows he’s a self-centered know it all.
Melvin Lee is a stand-up comic and he’s intrigued with Vivian, but he can’t get past her cold exterior. When they are forced together to do wedding stuff for their best friends, they start to get to know each other better.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and laughed at most of the jokes. Just like at a comedy club, not all the jokes hit a home run for me, but most of them were funny in my opinion. Also, just like at a comedy club, there was a lot of bad language, however, I did not find it gratuitous, but it was obvious. I also believe it was authentic as most stand-up comedians I watch use a fair amount of bad language so I thought it fit the character.
Mel is such a wonderful character. He is loud, abrasive, and likes to be the center of attention, but deep down inside he has a heart of gold. He’s funny, endearing, and authentic. Vivian is shy, aloof, and well-controlled. Vivian has had a tough upbringing and has her reasons for wanting to be alone and keep her life neat and tidy. And although she becomes attracted to Mel, his chaos does not fit her lifestyle.
I highly recommend The Stand Up Groomsman to anyone who enjoys romantic comedy. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Photo credit for author photo: J. Mitchell 2021
Excerpt from The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau
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.
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