Cover Image: The Best Man's Problem

The Best Man's Problem

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Member Reviews

It took me a bit to get into this story. I had some trouble really connecting with the characters. I had to go back to it a few times but I am glad I finished it.
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Rafael and Etienne shared a kiss several months ago, but Rafi ghosted Etienne and the pair do not meet again until the engagement party of Rafi’s sister and Etienne’s best friend. The two are still very attracted to each other but Rafi does not see Etienne’s free spirit ways working in his well organized life and Etienne is worried that Rafi will leave him without warning again.

The book frames this book as enemies to lovers, but they’re not, they’re more opposites attract with trust issues. I want actual animosity between my enemies to lovers characters that has to be overcome. Not agreeing on how to do things does not make people enemies. The book was very low angst with lots of emotions and I was very happy to find that it was open door. I did like both Rafi and Etienne and the fact that we have two men of color leading a queer category romance from Harlequin is not something that would have existed even a few years ago.

Thank you to Harlequin for the gifted copy and Harlequin and NetGalley for the eBook in exchange for an honest review.
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I’m very happy to see Harlequin continue to expand their gay romance offerings, hopefully this means others are reading and enjoying the books as well. I have read as many as I can so when this popped up on NetGalley I jumped at the chance. The story is sweet, about two men who shared a heated kiss one night and then lost touch. Then they are forced together as best men to help plan a bachelor party. I love this trope and it worked well here. It did take me awhile to feel the couple’s chemistry though. At the beginning I found it tricky to tell whether they were having playful banter or actually sniping at each other. I also found the sheer number of characters a bit overwhelming when really I just wanted to get into the core of the story. 

I think my copy had a formatting issue… there is a lot of texting in this book and it was difficult to determine who was saying what. Hopefully this is fixed for the book’s release. 

All in all this book was okay to me, but it very well could be the formatting or my headspace at the time of reading that affects my rating the most. If you’ve been enjoying the gay romances Harlequin has been putting out, definitely give this one a go as well. Thank you so much to Harlequin and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy. As always, opinions are my own.
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Rafael Navarro and Étienne Galois have a problem: their attraction to one another could upset their roles as groomsmen for a wedding. Étienne is the best man, and Rafe is standing up on behalf of his sister. Falling for one another could make everything awkward at the wedding–if they don’t work out, that is.

Rafe adores his older sister, the woman who saved their family from disaster when their mom was killed suddenly. She kept their dad on track, even as mired in grief as he was. And Rafe still hasn’t stopped blaming himself for the accident that claimed his mom’s life. He believes he’s not worthy of a man as beautiful and talented as Étienne Galois, a famed photojournalist and survivor of the terrible Haitian earthquake. He’s just an uptight high school math teacher, after all. Both men have deep emotional scars, and while Étienne would live each day in celebration, Rafe is more careful, weighing each step to ensure he doesn’t mess up again.

This is a sweet and sensual romance, spotlighting two men of color who are immigrants in NYC. They cherish their families, their culture, and their struggles. They want to make sure that the wedding is the best ever, because their loved ones deserve their best. There is some initial conflict since Étienne seems to be flighty and Rafe fears he might not devote the kind of time Rafe believes is necessary to plan the epic bachelor party, or help out with the needs of the soon-to-be-wed. Étienne isn’t a fan of spreadsheets, but he’s willing to try things Rafe’s way–especially if it means the men get to spend more time together.

Their kiss last summer was an impetuous decision, and Rafe doesn’t do impetuous–because that hurts people. Or, so he believes. His father is a rock, however, and he forces Rafe to confront his personal cowardice–and to make peace when it’s needed. I really enjoyed the slow burn love story, especially once Rafe forgives himself for something that was never his fault. I loved the deep cultural roots, and the expansive love Étienne and Rafe have for their families. The parents were lovely, and their desire to see their sons find happiness was awesome.

If you enjoy contemporary stories, particularly those featuring immigrant families, this might be a good one to check out.
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I loved this! This is my first read from Sera Taino, but I will check out her future releases and her backlist. The Best Man's Problem follows Étienne and Rafi as they have to share Best Man duties since Rafi's sister and Étienne's best friend getting married. This wouldn't have been an awkward task if Rafi hadn't ghosted Étienne after they shared a passionate kiss. I enjoyed watching them build a good friendship which eventually developed into a dynamic romance with high emotional stakes. Taino including Creole and Spanish throughout the story felt really authentic and grounded the characters. I am rooting for Enrique to find love with his 'new friend'! 

Thank you to HARLEQUIN - Romance (U.S. & Canada) and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I really wanted to like this one but it ended up falling flat for me. I do love that this is a queer Harlequin publication, and that one main character is Haitian and the other is Puerto Rican. I didn't connect with the writing style; I felt like I was being told how the characters felt but the actual emotions weren't coming through. The story itself is fine but the pacing was a bit off - a lot of time is spent in the party at the beginning of the book and then the rest is just kind of jumping from one get together to the next. I knew I was a lost cause when I got to the spicy bits but kept zoning out. For me, this wasn't a book I enjoyed but I do appreciate the representation so it's getting 3 stars.
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Thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for the ARC!

The Best Man's Problem is an opposites-attract, easy-to-read romance between Rafi, a by-the-book, routine-oriented man, and Etienne, a chaotic, energetic man with a strong sense of adventure. Having already met once before, and both aware of a spark between them, they're convinced they can't get along - until Rafi's sister's wedding comes around, and they have to work together to make it the perfect event. United in purpose, they begin to discover that maybe they're not as incompatible as they think.

The strongest point of this book, and what sets it apart from other Harlequins, is the sense of culture, community, and family which permeates the story. Both Rafi and Etienne had interesting, compelling relationships with their siblings and parents, as well as their respective communities; it was always a pleasure to have these larger groups on the page. The leading characters were made richer for this association.

However, the writing throughout was bland and amateurish, the plot was incredibly strangely paced (we spend about 16% of the book at a single party), there was an awkward tell-don't-show rhythm to characterization, and these weak points were more constant than any of the aforementioned good things. Unless you're particularly craving a gay Harlequin centered in these particular communities, there are better books out there.

Review date: 2/21/2023
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I am so happy the Familia Navarro is back! I felt an affinity with this family (especially Papi Enrique) since Sera introduced them in A Delicious Dilemma and I've been impatiently waiting for Val's siblings to have their own stories. And now, they're here beginning with Rafi's story in The Best Man's Problem.

"Grab the moment because life is too short to waste any of it."

I knew from the start that I would like this story because opposites attract is one of my favorite Romance tropes.  And boy, are Rafi and Étienne opposites. Rafi is so controlled, super organized, and a lot uptight while Étienne is a little chaotic, seize-the-day kind of person. This is the main reason for all the pushing away that happens in the story. And the pull? It's the physical attraction between them plus the similarity in their love of their respective families and fierce loyalty--Rafi to Val and Étienne to Philip. 

"I know my worth ... I deserve to have someone love me with their whole chest."

As always, Sera's writing is lush. Her prose is lyrical and evocative. She makes me relate to the characters and feel for them. I may have related too much to Étienne because, during the point of high conflict, I wanted to kick Rafi's stubborn ass. Oops!

"Life has no loyalty to anyone, so you must live it without remorse."

I love the diversity, the rich multicultural background, and the steam in Sera's stories. The first two books in the series have been excellent. I can't wait for Nati's turn!
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The Best Man's Problem by Sera Taino is a queer opposite attract romance between a man and the best friend of his soon-to-be brother-in-law.

I really enjoyed the main characters, Rafael and Étienne . Rafael took me a little bit to warm up to, whereas Étienne I knew that he was going to be so much more than what he portrayed on the surface. Both men have been shaped in opposite ways by an emotional trauma in their past, which brings a heaviness to their story. They have a back and forth of bickering and sexual tension that delivers with delicious open door intimacy scenes. The intimacy between them is passionate, and I adored that after their first time while Rafael is nervous the morning after, Étienne was immediately openly snugly and affectionate with him. That man had such a big heart and just wanted to shout his feelings for Rafael from the rooftop.

The Best Man's Problem has a rich and diverse cast, with more than a few queer side characters. Rafael is Puerto Rican, his parents immigrated to America when they were young and Étienne is Haitian, him and his family came to America when he was in his teens. Both families lives are enriched by their roots. I really enjoyed that the author had the characters naturally speak in Spanish and Creole throughout, which enriched the story even more. I also loved both their relationships with their families, especially Rafael with his sisters and father.

Overall this was a satisfying queer romance filled with family, photography, wedding planning, over thinking, sexual tension, steam, cheesecake for breakfast, and taking a chance.
9 minutes ago
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This is the 2nd book in “The Navarros Book Series” and my first time reading a book by Sera Taino and I will be reading the next book in this series after I go back and read the 1st book in this series “A Delicious Dilemma”.  This is awesome read that is tasteful done, witty, entertaining, fast-paced easy quick read, with great characters and a plot that held me captive turning page after pager.  I enjoyed reading about Etienne who is a Haitian photographer and Rafi whom he shared an unforgettable passionate kiss with.  Rafi and Etienne have history and when the two find themselves reconnecting at Rafe’s sister’s wedding these two are finding that neither can forget the other.  

Is there a future in the romance department for Etienne and Rafe?

I received an ARC via NetGalley HARLEQUIN - Romance (U.S. & Canada), Harlequin Special Edition LGBTQIAP+ | Romance and I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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This book is from a traditional publishing, Harlequin Special Edition. These are the books that as a teenager, if I got one...oh my...lol. I'm glad to see how they've evolved more. More diversity in the MC's as well as the side characters, and different sexualities are referenced. This isn't your grandma's romance novel, and that was all right with me. :)

This book had such great representation. In fact, there really was only one character who was a white male, and cisgender. Both Creole and Spanish language phrases were sprinkled throughout the book as well. I really enjoyed that. Quite often, when MC's speak different languages, you might see one or two references to it, but this book had the languages represented from beginning to end.

Rafi was a control freak, trying to keep everything exactly in the path that he laid down, and love wasn't really in his life's plan. The guilt over how his mother died permeated every interaction he had in his life. This made the book a bit of a slow burn, from enemies to lovers. Their first kiss was before the book started, then the first reader read kiss wasn't until over halfway through the book. It took them a while to get from calling each other names to calling each others' names.

Étienne, meanwhile, was very much the opposite of Rafi. He was open to love, open to life and new experiences. He'd had his own tragedy on his island in Haiti, before moving to NYC. For Étienne, it caused him to not want to waste a minute of life. It did lead to some heartbreak for him, as well.

There were some issues that I felt were unresolved, or not fully resolved to my satisfaction. In addition, the book is written very formally. The everyday language used was stilted in some places, using words that are not normally in the vernacular. That piece definitely harked back to the older days of romance novels.

This was definitely opposites attract with, of course, a Harlequin guaranteed HEA. An enjoyable read.

3.5 pieces of eye candy
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Sera Taíno delivers another fun category length gem following the Navarro Family and Co. The concept is super sweet, with Rafi struggling with his emotions around Etienne, someone he ghosted, being the best man in his sister’s wedding. Despite this, they have some cute moments and romantic tension, especially as they’re opposites personality wise. Ultimately, it’s a solid concoction of tropes, making for a lovely read, and I’m excited to continue to get more from Taíno in this universe!
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Such fresh and colorful writing!
I enjoyed this book so much and cannot believe how quick I finished it.
One night these two share a passionate kiss after dancing all night and Rafael quickly ghost Etienne.
Chance brings them back to  each others lives as they both have to work on the big family wedding.
Rafa is so stern and determined to not fall for Etienne and his charms but their chemistry is so palpable.
They are true opposites through and through. The bickering is fueled by Rafa's determination to not fall for Etienne and the more he fights the less control he has on his feelings. 
The families on both ends are rich with love and culture, its a true joy filled read. I cannot wait to keep reading onto book 3.
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The Best Man Problem 
By: Sera Taino 

📚💕⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💕📚

Can opposites become everything? 

Can two of the sweetest men find happiness together? Can they put themselves first? Only time and trust can answer that question. In my first read from this author I found myself rooting for both me and begging for patience throughout the entire book. Both men have huge pain in their pasts but are even close when it comes to meeting in the middle it’s either all or nothing or running scared. The author writes with so much intensity and emotion pulled from each book it’s felt page after page. Some are quick witted story lines are so perfect and lets you believe you have a front row seat. So being able to read this love story didn’t disappoint. The authors ability to have two separate individuals struggling in their everyday life and try to navigate someone else’s thoughts, needs and desires was intense and gives all the 

Authors blurb: He can’t forget the kiss he shared with the best man.

But is he the best man for him?   

His sister’s wedding isn’t the ideal place for Rafael Navarro to reconnect with the man he kissed in a moment of reckless abandon. But it’s impossible to avoid best man Étienne Galois! The gorgeous Haitian photographer hasn’t forgotten the intimate moment they shared, even if Rafi is the most maddening person he’s ever met. Can the two find common ground, proving opposites not only attract they can become lovers for life?

This book has everything I love in a book. Then you add that it's beautifully written and believable. It is easily a five star read. Written in dual POV my personal favorite this story flows so incredibly well that the next thing you know your 80% into the book and loving every second of it. The believable way the characters interact is perfect. Run, Hop, Jump or use your (1 click) finger to do whatever you have to do and get this amazing book.  It'll break your heart, you'll want to scream with frustration and it'll let you discover that love just might conquer all. The chemistry is steamy and sweet and oh so romantic.

Thanks Netgally for letting me read and review.📚💕
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Four and a half stars 

The Best Man’s Problem by Sera Taino is the second in her series about the Navarro siblings.  Rafael Navarro and Etienne Galois don’t seem to have much in common except their fierce love for their friends and families, which is how they find themselves tasked with ensuring that Philip’s bachelor’s party goes off without a hitch.  Etienne is Philip’s best man, and Rafi would do anything for his sister, Philip’s fiancée.  So this inconvenient attraction they can set aside, can’t they?

Sera Taino writes Etienne and Rafi’s intense chemistry beautifully, as well as Rafi’s uncertainty about a future together and their gently growing friendship and trust as the time they spend together reveals the people they are to each other.  I also enjoyed her portrayals of Rafi and Etienne’s Puerto Rican and Haitian heritages, and their families and traditions.  I very much look forward to reading more by this gifted writer.
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A lovely book that could have used a better edit. Seriously, there are things an author should do, and things an editor should do, and Taino didn't get the benefit of a good edit. 

Etienne was a joy; I absolutely loved his character, his family, his relationships, all of it. 
I liked Rafi as well, though his initial characterbuilding had a bit of info-dump to it (see above re edit). 

It's hard to do a second-chance romance and Taino did an excellent job showing why Rafi ran away in the first place.  And why he was drawn to Etienne and why they came back together. 

I wasn't such a fan of the third-act-breakup: or rather, I didn't like how Etienne brushed over Rafi's real and valid preferences and then never addressed it during the reconciliation. 

These weaker points hit right in the areas I most watch for, so I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as book 1. But that's me! This is a good book and I'm definitely going to be reading book 3 in the series. 

I got an ARC from #NetGalley, opinions are my own.
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Opposites Attract
Forced proximity  
HEA
After a shared kiss and hurt feelings, Etienne and Rafael are forced to share best man duties for a wedding.
They are both upset with each other for different reasons but the attraction is still there. Rafael needs everything a certain way and is very specific about his time while Etienne goes with the flow and seems carefree.
After working together for a few weeks the chemistry is too much and they give in to their attraction.
These two characters had experienced a lot of trauma with a parent who passed away and devastation of an earthquake in their hometown. There was so much that they had to learn about each other and let go of their assumptions.

Thank you harlequinbooks for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.
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Highly addictive and emotional! Sera Taino’s Navarro family series is continuing with a relationship between Val’s brother Ravi and Philips’s BFF Etienne and you are not going to want to miss this slow-burn, sassy gay romance! The characters are easy to like and the family dynamics pushing them together adds a warm setting for the start of their romance. I adored Etienne and loved the way he opened up his heart to Ravi. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sincere group of characters who have to deal with the ins and outs of life and how it shapes you on their way towards forever. I’m looking forward to more in the series!
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The Best Man’s Problem is a low-angst romance about two very different men who have been asked to partner up to plan the bachelor’s party and other Best Man duties for an upcoming wedding.  Etienne, the groom’s best man, travels a lot for his photography career, so the bride asks her brother, Rafi, to work with him on the pretext that he’ll need help. Etienne is bi, Rafi is gay. No secret what sis is hoping for. What nobody knows is that Etienne and Rafi have already had a go at one another: a kiss that Rafi walked away from, and Etienne can’t forget.  If event planning is your kink, this book doesn’t focus too much on those details, though there is a tension over excel spreadsheets that I totally identified with. Instead it is a tale about two opposites, confused by their attraction.

This novel is full of close-knit families, delicious sounding Haitian, Puerto Rican and fusion foods, a lot of frustration, and a dose of petty.  Rafi sees Etienne as careless, carefree, and no one he can trust.  Since his mother died when he was young, he has lived his life with a habitual rigidity that serves as a ward against bad things happening.  He has tried to be there for his dad, who immigrated from Puerto Rico, and his two sisters just about every day of his life, working in their restaurant in addition to his job teaching math. Etienne is also close with his family, though his parents don’t believe photography is a stable enough career, despite his success. He moved to the United States from Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010 and though he is an outgoing, vibrant person, he is also haunted by his losses.

I had a little difficulty getting into the relationship between Rafi and Etienne, in part because I couldn’t see what Etienne would even see in Rafi.  Sure, we, the readers, understand why Rafi is such an inflexible person, but that doesn’t make it any more appealing.  With Etienne, we get scenes with his assistant, details about his career, his personality, but Rafi just appears to be Mr. Routine, albeit good looking.  I was not raring for them to get together.  But as it started to happen, and as Rafi started to recognize his wrong assumptions about Etienne, I was able to get over my earlier ambivalence.

At the end of the novel Rafi and his father have a heart to heart in the kitchen.  I have to ask: Rafi’s father waits until he’s almost 30 to have the conversation about how Rafi is not responsible for his mother’s death?  In the book, this didn’t sound like well-trod conversational ground, but something Rafi hadn't heard before. If his Dad knew he was carrying that load, why wait so long?  Since Rafi is so shaped by this guilt, it seemed like a big deal to me and made me angry with his father.
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“Life is short, but it can become long and monotonous if we don’t stop to celebrate the milestones along the way.”

“It wasn’t fair that one person should contain so many perfect multitudes.”

Rafael and Étienne shared a kiss that neither can forget about, and now have been tasked with coordinating best man responsibilities for Rafi’s sister’s wedding. They can barely stand each other, and now it seems everyone has found a reason for them to spend more and more time together. 

I loved the diverse representation in this steamy MM romance including Latinx and Caribbean cultures and Spanish/Creole dialogue!

While both Rafi and Étienne had past trauma, I had hoped to see their challenges more fully developed in the context of their relationship. Each partner acknowledged the other’s feelings, but more depth would have enhanced the progression of their connection. 

- Forced Proximity
- Opposites Attract
- Matchmaking Family

CW: grief, death of a parent

Thank you to Harlequin, NetGalley, and the author for a digital review copy!
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