Her Best Worst Mistake, by Sarah Mayberry

>> Friday, May 25, 2012

TITLE: Her Best Worst Mistake
AUTHOR: Sarah Mayberry

PAGES: 55 thousand words (some 220 pages, according to my calculations)
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Contemporary London
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: Related to one of Mayberry's Blazes, Hot Island Nights

She thinks he's stuffy. He thinks she's spoilt.?Then the gloves come off... and so do their clothes!

For six years Violet Sutcliffe has known that Martin St Clair is the wrong man for her best friend. He's stuffy, old before his time, conservative. He drives Violet nuts - and the feeling is entirely mutual. Then, out of nowhere, her friend walks out just weeks before her wedding to Martin, flying to Australia on a mission of self-discovery. Back in London, Violet finds herself feeling sorry for suddenly-single Martin. At least, she tells herself it's pity she feels. Then he comes calling one dark, stormy night and they discover that beneath their mutual dislike there lies a fiery sexual chemistry.

It's crazy and all-consuming - and utterly wrong. Because not only are they chalk and cheese, oil and water, but Martin once belonged to her best friend. A friend Violet is terrified of losing. What future can there be for a relationship with so many strikes against it?
Her Best Worst Mistake is a self-published companion book to one of Mayberry's Blazes, Hot Island Nights. I haven't read that one, but from reading HBWM, it's about Elizabeth, who dumps her boring but safe fiance and goes off to Australia, where she meets and falls in love with a hot Aussie dude. HBWM covers the same timeframe, but we stay behind in England with Martin St. Clair, the said boring fiance, and with Violet, Elizabeth's best friend.

Martin and Violet have always disliked each other. He thinks she's irresponsible and spoiled, she thinks he's dull and unimaginative, and that he's stifling Elizabeth. Still, once Elizabeth dumps Martin, Violet can't help but feel sorry for him. She decides she should check up on him, and does so with the excuse of bringing him a bottle of booze as a sort of commiseration present.

Martin is not particularly happy with this (to him, it's a pity gift, and there's nothing worse than being pitied), but he ends up drinking a little bit too much of the booze, and he and Violet end up in bed, having the most amazing sex of their respective lives. They both regret their "mistake" in the morning and tell themselves it won't happen again. Except it does. And then it does again. And before they know it, they are in something that is suspiciously close to a relationship.

I loved this. Both Martin and Violet are fully fleshed-out characters, people who show the world a only one side, but who have hidden depths. Before they fall into bed they knew only that one aspect of each other, but what starts as only sex turns out to reveal who they really are. So very gradually, they begin to care more and more, and through the very steamy and increasingly tender love scenes, Mayberry really made me believe they were falling in love.

I also loved that it's the kind of opposites attract romance I can really get behind, one where it turns out that though they've got different temperaments, they share a worldview and completely understand each other. This was shown perfectly in the heartbreaking scene when they have their first fight, and Violet's reactions are so rooted in her past with her family. I almost cried when I saw Martin's reaction to this, because it was so perfect.

The main conflict here is Violet's fear that what she has with Martin might damage her friendship with Elizabeth. In real life, I adhere to the rule that you just don't date your friends' exes, but I had absolutely no issues with this element of the story. We readers (even those of us who haven't read the first book), know perfectly well that Elizabeth is fond of Martin, but never cared for him deeply. Violet and Martin's relationship never feels like a betrayal. Mayberry showed how the feelings between them weren't completely new, and there had always been an increased awareness there, but at the same time, neither had been disloyal (even in their own minds) when Martin was with Elizabeth. It was things like both of them noticing little details about the other, things that even Elizabeth wasn't noticing. So not a conscious thing, not even something suspicious, but very telling.

I did think I might have an issue with Violet's extreme reluctance to tell Elizabeth, since a few people whose reviews I read before I decided to pick this up had thought it had become a bit unreasonable after a while. I don't agree with that at all. To me, given how important Elizabeth was in Violet's life, due to Violet's history, it made complete sense that she'd be a bit paranoid about the whole thing. I think Violet totally got that if Elizabeth got upset with her she'd be being unreasonable, but what if she did anyway, unreasonable or not? She'd still be losing Elizabeth as a friend, and I understood why that prospect would generate so much fear in Violet.

Anyway, this is my favourite Mayberry so far, and that's really saying something!



nath 26 May 2012 at 02:25  

I just finished this book today and totally agree with your review and grade :) This was definitively a great book!

I love opposites attract theme, but it definitively wasn't the focus of this book.

Also, once Martin was with Violet, I don't feel he was that boring :P Violet definitively balanced him out better :)

Rosario 26 May 2012 at 09:35  

Nath: I agree, he wasn't boring at all, but what I loved was that it didn't feel like he'd had a personality transplant, either. It was just that Violet drew him out, whereas Elizabeth didn't. I'll have to read Hot Island Nights now and see what he was like there.

Marg 26 May 2012 at 12:00  

I read both Hot Island Nights and Her Best Worst Mistake this week and loved the experience of reading them both so closely together.

Of the two, I preferred this book but mainly because in some ways you could tell that the author was free to do what she wanted.

I think this is probably my favourite Mayberry now!

Darlynne,  26 May 2012 at 17:53  

I had picked up Hot Island Nights and was debating about Her Best Worst Mistake, but you've talked me into it. Thanks for the review.

Rosario 27 May 2012 at 09:04  

Marg: That's interesting, I did see a couple of points (especially with Violet), where she wasn't quite what you would find in a normal Harlequin!

Darlynne: And it's cheap, too! :-)

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