Sweet. Delicious. So shareable. Nope, I’m not talking about cake. I’m referring to Mia Sosa’s new romance novel: The Worst Best Man! This enemies-to-lovers story follows Carolina Santos, a wedding planner who was left at the altar. Years later, Lina finds herself stuck working alongside Max Hartley, her ex-fiancé’s brother, on a presentation that could take her career to the next level. They begrudgingly agree to work together, never imagining the sparks that will fly between them. On shelves now, The Worst Best Man is a great pick for readers looking for a steamy romance featuring a heroine driven to prove her worth and a hero who supports her every step of the way. Sosa talked with me about her favorite tropes, her daughter’s contribution to the cover design, and the way her own family inspired The Worst Best Man.
What first sparked the idea for The Worst Best Man?
Several years ago, I wrote a blurb for a romance novel tentatively titled ‘The Wedding Disorganizer,’ in which a man objects to his sister’s wedding and vows to stop it, putting him squarely at odds with the woman helping the bride to plan the nuptials. I envisioned a story filled with sabotage and pranks and a hate-to-love vibe. When I sat down to add meat to the concept, however, I realized that my catchy premise lacked a sufficient purpose behind the conflict needed to support a full-length book. So I took my germ of an idea and tweaked it, this time around making the brother partly responsible for the demise of the wedding planner’s own marriage. Cue the enemies-to-lovers trope, the shenanigans, and ALL THE FEELS.
The cover of The Worst Best Man is so fun and unconventional! Usually romance covers show an embrace, but here the heroine is shoving the hero away and off the edge of the cake. In your Acknowledgements, you mention that your daughter contributed to the cover concept. Can you tell us more about that?
Absolutely! Early on in the cover planning process, my agent, Sarah Younger, and I brainstormed ideas during a call. We quickly came up with the wedding cake topper idea, which we thought would emphasize the fun and flirty nature of the story, but we were stumped when it came to figuring out what the figures on that topper would actually be doing. My older daughter, knowing it was an enemies-to-lovers story, suggested an illustration of the hero being kicked off the cake. The illustrator, Nathan Burton, took that concept and ran with it, ultimately depicting the best man falling off the cake. My favorite detail is the way the best man Max’s shoe is sinking into the frosting as he’s falling; I smile every time I notice it.
Weddings are a theme in your books: Crashing into Her kicks off with a one-night stand at a friend’s wedding, Pretending He’s Mine involves a fake-dating duo traveling to a wedding. What keeps bringing you back to this setting?
Oh my goodness, you’re right! Well, here’s what I’ll say about that: I was a lawyer in my former life, and I often experienced the burning need to walk away from my career and do something completely different. The “something different” that I always envisioned was wedding planning. I enjoyed organizing my and my husband’s “big day,” and I helped a law school friend plan hers. When I was practicing law, I periodically researched ways to become a wedding organizer, typically at two o’clock in the morning before a court filing was due. So although I never became a wedding planner, I suspect I’m living vicariously through my characters whenever I write about weddings.
The Worst Best Man has some of my favorite tropes: enemies-to-lovers, only-one-bed, even a brief fake-relationship! What are your favorite tropes to write, and why?
I basically included all of my favorite tropes in one book. Seriously. I love characters who engage in intense banter, and I think these tropes lend themselves to the kind of fun and sexy dialogue that highlights the chemistry between two people. I’d add a fourth one to the list: older sibling’s best friend. The tension when that dynamic is at the center of the conflict is, as my mother would describe it, delicious.
Lina comes from a family of immigrants, and she struggles with feelings of letting her family down. Given all her mother sacrificed for her, she believes she should be “[w]orking harder. Achieving more.” What drew you to this theme?
In some way or another, all of my books touch on issues I’ve dealt with personally. As a first-generation Brazilian American, I’m fully aware of the sacrifices my mother and deceased aunts made to ensure that our family prospered. This book is, in part, a love letter to them. I wanted to pay homage to the wonderful familial village they created for my cousins and me without glossing over the way my own successes (and failures) are never just about me. It’s a theme that will resonate with many children of immigrants: the desire to make our parents’ sacrifices “worth it.” Part of Lina’s journey requires her to accept that she is and has done “enough,” which frees her to forge her own path forward. Essentially, that’s my experience on the page.
The book introduces readers to both Lina’s family and Max’s. Where Lina’s family is warm and involved in each other’s lives, Max’s family is more distant from each other. How did you go about crafting each family’s unique dynamic? Did you set out to have the families be foils or mirrors of each other in specific ways?
I hadn’t intended to make the families foils or mirrors of each other. Instead, I wanted to explore the idea that “found families” are just as valuable as the ones you’re born into, and I tried to tackle that concept by juxtaposing Max and his brother’s unhealthy relationship with Max and his best friend Dean’s supportive bromance. My goal, really, was to highlight healthy male friendships that aren’t necessarily familial.
The end of the book teases a follow-up story! Can you tell us anything about The Wedding Crasher?
I can tell you that it’s Dean and Solange’s story. Solange is Lina’s cousin and appears only briefly in The Worst Best Man, and I can’t wait for everyone to truly meet her. I’m still writing the story, though, so I think I’ll leave it at that for now. *grins mischievously*
What have you read recently that you’ve loved and would recommend to our readers?
I’d definitely recommend Tracey Livesay’s latest release, Sweet Talkin’ Lover. It’s an interracial small-town romance about a big city marketing manager, Caila Harris, whose promotion depends on an unpleasant task: gathering enough information to justify shutting down an unprofitable factory in Bradleton, Virginia. Caila imagines she’ll handle the task with her usual efficiency, until she meets the town’s handsome mayor, Wyatt Bradley. The chemistry between these two is electric, and Livesay manages to incorporate weighty topics—grief, racism, and the ways in which Black professional women operate according to a different set of rules in the workplace—without diminishing the importance of the romance between Caila and Wyatt. It’s a lovely book, and I highly recommend it to romance and non-romance readers alike.
Mia Sosa writes funny, flirty, and moderately steamy contemporary romances that celebrate our multicultural world. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School, Mia practiced First Amendment and media law in the nation’s capital for ten years before trading her suits for loungewear (read: sweatpants). Born and raised in East Harlem, New York, she now lives in Maryland with her college sweetheart, their two bookaholic daughters, and one dog that rules them all.