cover image Best Men

Best Men

Sidney Karger. Berkley, $17 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-43948-7

“Being gay is not really my forte” declares Max Moody in Karger’s breezy rom-com debut. He’s referring to his lack of interest in party planning, flower arranging, and the like, skills which are put to the test when his best friend, Paige, asks Max to be “man of honor” at her wedding. Infuriatingly, Paige’s future brother-in-law, Chasten—who also happens to be Max’s one-time anonymous hook-up—excels at arranging bachelorette parties and bridal showers. Max fumes as Chasten inserts himself into every aspect of wedding planning and sets out to take down his “best man rival.” As they get to know each other better, however, Max starts fantasizing about his frenemy, especially after Chasten, a chocolatier, takes Max to his factory. Unfortunately, Karger shortchanges the sweet romance to focus instead on drama between Paige and Max: she’s angry when he misses her dress fitting, and he resents her always calling him her “gay best friend.” There’s also an almost pointless subplot about layoffs at Max’s job. Still, the writing is filled with fun pop culture references and Karger can turn a phrase (“I’m hit by the early evening humidity like a nonconsensual embrace”). This appealing debut tries to do too much, but it still offers plenty to enjoy. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (May)