Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau (2022)

Donut Fall in Love #2

Review of Donut Fall in Love, #1

Heat Factor: It’s a slow burn–much intense emotional heat with satisfying results

Character Chemistry: It killed me, dead. I am not okay now, thanks Jackie Lau.

Plot: Mel the stand-up comedian and Vivian the financial analyst/secret artist meet and can’t stand each other only to find themselves as attendants in their friends’ wedding. Mel is the entire rainbow and Vivan is gray. And I love them.

Overall: This book made me swoon so hard, so many times that I actually NEED a fainting couch now.

So Erin and Holly both said I was going to like Jackie Lau, and they were right. This is my second Lau creation, and I feel like my ribcage is going to crack from how much swelling my chest is doing after finishing it. 

Do you like the banter and mismatch of When Harry Met Sally? Because that’s what you’re going to get from this one. Only, add in two comfortably bisexual characters, a character who’s a comic (and actually has funny sketches included in the text!!) and a woman who’s the grumpy and not the sunshine (for ONCE) and ka-pow. It’s beyond. It’s extra. It’s just…fantastic.

Mel is louder, colorful, and funny, and he’s the perfect foil for Vivian. I hesitate to call her an “unlikeable heroine” because she is NOT (I’ll fight you), but she’s gruff and she’s used to caring for herself and being pretty buttoned up and proper, so she’s far from being soft and pliant. She’s so relatable, and her character is so perfectly and meticulously written—Lau peppers her text carefully with gestures and passing thoughts that open Vivian up without her even having to disclose anything sweeping and vulnerable for the reader. And that’s effective, because it would be utterly out of character for Vivian to just spill her guts, even to herself. Every depiction of her makes sense, and it makes her incredibly easy to sympathize with. So when Mel’s bright, colorful chaos descends upon Vivian, it’s easy to see why she’s falling for him and it’s equally easy to see why it’s stressful for her.

I loved Mel’s stand up, as well, which shocked me. Normally when authors depict an art form a character specializes in, it can tend to feel clumsy. But in this book it’s really brilliantly done. Like any good comic, Mel uses humor to entertain, but also to unpack really incredible issues in creative ways. And just like it worked for Vivian, through each little vignette we end up seeing more of the underlying anxiety and feelings of inadequacy that have held Mel back in life. It ends up making a lot of sense that Vivian would be someone solid and real for Mel, and ultimately someone he can trust with himself. 

But in all honesty, their relationship isn’t 100% deep. It’s also really playful and fun. For example, at one point in a text thread Vivan says “Congrats!!” and Mel responds “Look at you, using two exclamation marks. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?” Mel teases Vivian constantly, but the way he doesn’t it makes Vivan feel really seen and often admired, and I was floored by how well it ratchets up the tension. It was like flirting on steroids. 

And ultimately, I adored that the way they handle the hurdles they face is unique, compassionate, and tender…and really, really sexy. I just dare you to end this book without a heart full of yearning. I dare you.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

Looking for something similar?

Other fabulous books by Jackie Lau

Books set in Canada

Grumpy and sunshine

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