Beth Harbison is a NY Times Bestseller many times over but will more than likely never write the kind of stories I’ll pick up. So you may imagine the sheep-eating grin that crossed my face when I beheld my next assignment, Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger by Beth Harbison. Needless to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, I put it off until last. Then I dove in trying to be objective and open to the romantic ride of Quinn Barton’s story. Here is how it went for an outside listener.
Quinn is excited for her wedding until Frank, the Best Man and the groom’s brother, pulls her aside and tells her she should reconsider, that Burke, his brother, has been cheating on her. This news plants a seed that all but ruins her romantic life to the point that the only relationships of note in the ten years since she left Burke at the altar (at least for the book) are a two-day affair with Frank after the wedding and a casual fling with a banker.
In the present, Quinn’s life is in a rut, but she seems to have made herself comfortable in it. She works making wedding dresses in her shop, Talk of the Gown. Quinn is as conflicted about her feelings on marriage as she is about her feelings for Frank and Burke, who are suddenly reintroduced into an unprepared Quinn’s life when their grandmother and town character, Dottie, is getting married to the younger Lyle. Quinn has convinced herself only in words that she has made her peace with the boys, but Dottie and Quinn’s best friend, Glen, know better. They try individually to push her out of her rut, to face her past, and find happiness once again. Quinn fights them at every turn reluctantly going through the steps and following their guidance blindly.
On the downside, I felt like some of the days merged, confusing me or making me question the author’s attention to detail. The listener also spends a good amount of time banking around Quinn’s head (read expertly by Orlagh Cassidy, a gifted actress and audio book reader). Her stubborn nature and uncertainty torture the listener with similar (if not the same) mental dialogue time and again. Maybe that was insensitive and the repetition is necessary to coax the listener into Quinn’s mental state.
However Harbison is not a best-selling author for nothing. She draws the listener in with suspense, raising questions that we want to hear answered. Is Lyle a gold digger? Will it be Burke? Frank? Someone new? No one at all? Where will all Glen’s help land Quinn? Then there are the characters: the lovable, bold, and often outlandish grandmother, the stereotypical cheeky, gay best friend, the dreamy ex, and his disciplined, attractive brother. It is a romantic comedy in the making. If Hollywood’s looking for scripts, here is one almost gift-wrapped.
I came to this audio book reluctantly. I wanted it to prove to me that it was worth my time. If you are familiar with my reviews at all, I usually walk away from the experience with a positive retrospect, and Chose the Wrong Guy did not fail managing to pull me in and making my journey relatively easy and painless. I can’t say I’ll be looking for the next Harbison, but if assigned, persuaded, or forced to listen to it, I think I will go in trusting her to tell a compelling and entertaining enough story. I’m sure that she has a huge following, and I’d wager they’ll enjoy this audio book in the same way they enjoy her other works. So to any of them, listen away and enjoy. To any readers who think this Chose the Wrong Guy might be up their alley, give it a try. And to any in my boat, if you find someone else has you listening to it, sit back and relax. It won’t be as bad as you think (I hope).