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October 25, 2022

The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau ~ a Review & Excerpt

by MK French

Vivian Liao's roommate is engaged to her favorite actor’s costar, bringing her face-to-face with Melvin Lee. While he's a charming actor and comedian, he finds her to be a snob and a sellout, wasting her life in the corporate world instead of being an artist. The two have to remain in each others' orbit to ensure the wedding is perfect. This makes them learn more about each other, so there might be another happily ever after in the future.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of romantic comedy The Stand Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau
October 2022; Berkley; 978-0593334324
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); romantic comedy

The Stand-Up Groomsman
is a sequel of sorts to Donut Fall In Love (read my review), in the sense that the couple marrying is Ryan and Lindsay from that book. The supporting characters there are now the stars, and we get to see their chemistry grow. Of course, they try a long-distance relationship, and both of their anxieties and past failures in relationships cause them to second-guess what they grew into. Vivian was essentially a third parent to her younger siblings and similarly had to give up a lot in her prior relationships. Melvin retreats to humor as a coping skill when dealing with rejection, and doesn't fully commit to anyone so he won't be hurt. These are very real fears, and rear up frequently enough to be a problem. We do see them work through these issues, whether with friends, mentions of therapy or medication, or self-reflection, they realize that they work together. 

A very fun romance novel to curl up with.

Read an excerpt from The Stand-Up Groomsman

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.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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