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Review: Somebody to Love

By Kristan Higgins. Grade: A

I pick up Kristan Higgins when I am in the mood for some light reading, but not something so light that it insults my brain cells. I have read almost everything by her, and I have watched her progress with every book. My main – and consistent – problem with her characters used to be that there was not enough development of the male protagonist, and the love story seemed a little contrived. This book took care of that.

With Until There Was You, she shifted from the first person’s POV to third person’s. Fortunately, she has followed the same pattern in this one, which works brilliantly to give a great read.

After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC…

The plot is pretty straight forward. Parker is a multi-millionaire heiress and mother of a young child. After catching her father in bed with her baby sitter at the age of ten, she has had a rocky relationship with him. Her mother divorced him and moved on to become the ultimate trophy wife. The father of her son, Ethan, was in love with a mutual friend, Lucy, so they decided not to tie the knot. She lives a strange, but happy existence, writing books for children, the Holy Rollers, all of which she despises.

So one day when dear ol’ daddy drops by for a visit with his pet snake and two minions, she is a bit taken aback. And when he announces that he has lost the family fortune – including Parker’s trust fund AND Nicky’s trust fund – she is completely taken aback. What is an ex-millionaire heiress who has only eleven grand in her bank account and no place to live supposed to do? The cherry on the top all the earnings from her books goes to charity. So she sends off her son on a month-long trip with his father and moves to the small town of Gideon’s Cove to take a look at the house bequeathed to her by a distant relative a few years ago. The house is a shack, but Parker thinks that she can renovate it and sell it quickly, and rent a house back in Rhodes Island in the month that Nicky is away.

Enter James aka Thing One, one of her father’s minions. He is a lawyer but has a history in carpentry and feels guilty for the role he played in the loss of Parker’s fortune (which was actually not much). He and Parker have a history: one night in one of her cousin’s wedding, but nothing came from it because she thought he was using her to climb up the ladder. She also doesn’t like him because her father gives him more affection than he ever gave his daughter. But she decides to put her personal feelings aside and allows him to help.

Now, James is one hot piece of eye candy. On top of it, he is from a blue collar background who struggled to make it big. He has a lot of emotional baggage from the past, but is honest, hard-working, smart and funny. I would have agreed to have him right there but Parker is a bit…picky. While something does happen to her as he goes around shirtless everyday and puts her home together for nothing, she resists a while before giving in.

The best part of this book was the scenes from James’ POV. I loved them, especially because they were a new addition to Kristan Higgins and while she wrote them very well in the book before this too, it’s even better in this one. Unlike most of her other heroines, Parker is not some hopeless romantic who embarrasses herself on every second page. I was getting a bit tired of that, thank God.

The secondary characters, as usual are amazing. We have Mr and Mrs Ethan Paragon (from The Next Best Thing) and Malone and Maggie (from Catch of the Day). Lavinia and Chantal, again, are a hoot.

However, I found it a little unrealistic the way she handles her changed status from millionaire to…not a millionaire. No emotional breakdown, and the way she quickly opened the new business was pretty eyebrow-raising too.

Overall, I’d say that it is a great summer read and will be enjoyed by anybody who is looking forward to a few laughs and a few tears.

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Review: Catch of the Day

By Kristan Higgins. Grade: B

This is my fourth book by the author and I find that I have the same complaint in this one which I had in all the rest.


First Date a la Maggie

Take one lovelorn diner owner (me)
A generous helping of nosy local gossips
A dollop of envy at married sister’s perfect life
A splash of divine intervention (my matchmaking priest)

Combine ingredients with one adorable puppy, add a strong but silent lobsterman with a hidden heart of gold–and watch the sparks fly.

When it comes to love, nobody has worse luck than Maggie Beaumont. And unfortunately, most of her humiliations are public, providing her neighbors and friends with plenty of unplanned comic relief.
Her first serious boyfriend broke up with her publicly when he brought his new girlfriend home for a visit after getting signed by the Boston Red Sox; and then there’s the crush she has on her parish priest that has made her the laughing stock of her tiny Maine town (she unknowingly told everyone that she met her soul mate, not realizing he would be their new priest).

And it doesn’t help that she has an identical twin sister with a seemingly perfect life. The only guy she can count on is her lovable dog Colonel. And thank goodness she loves her work – running the family-owned diner that she painstakingly revitalized. When surly and silent lobsterman Malone rescues her from a blind date no show then plants a wet one on her with no notice, she suddenly finds his gruff personality hard to resist. Not much of a talker, she’s not sure he just doesn’t want a body to warm his bed.


Like all of her other novels, the female protagonist was very real and very adorable. She has human quirks that endear her to us. She is a very likable character, loyal, caring and talks way too much. I think all single women on their quest for love can relate to Maggie’s dating drama in finding Mr. perfect and sympathize with her.

Aside from that, the humour, as usual, was good. She even made me cry once.

However, aside from that, I don’t think I liked much about this book.
Firstly, this book is supposedly “Contemporary Romance”. Wrong. It’s chick-lit all the way.

Secondly, the cover misses the mark: the cute puppy on it shows up on the next-to-last page and has nothing to do with the story. I also had a pretty hard time with how she kept embarrassing herself. I’m not real fond of wincing through an entire book.

Thirdly, Malone is too much of a strong-but-silent type for the first person POV to work here for the romance-factor in the “how does he feel about her” way. We really have almost no clue how he feels because we’re so cemented into the first person POV and all of the (mis)interpretations that accompany that POV. I loved the idea of his character but it was very underdeveloped. I just couldn’t really connect with him, which is tough when this is ostensibly a romance. I kept waiting for his character to be developed,to learn more about the enigmatic lobsterman and to find out why he behaved in the irrational way he behaved at times. Needless to say I was very disappointed when I got the end and found that nothing had really been resolved. We never did get to find out what made Malone tick and that was supremely irritating.
I really can’t imagine the two of them having a HEA. I just can’t. Nothing has been resolved and you can see that the fights aren’t over.

The story line repeats itself over and over. If you are new to Kristan Higgins, you’ll like this one. Otherwise not. For the first part, I could have easily substituted any of her other heroines and it hardly would have made a difference.

Readers looking for a good romance will likely be disappointed.

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Review: Too Good To Be True

By Kristan Higgins. Grade: B

I’d read two pretty amazing books by the author (Just One Of The Guys & Until There Was You), and was crazily wondering why I hardly hear the author’s name anywhere. I mean, she was really good, and I couldn’t believe why she didn’t get the credit she deserved.

Then I discovered why.

When Grace Emerson’s ex-fiancé starts dating her younger sister, extreme measures are called for. To keep everyone from obsessing about her love life, Grace announces that she’s seeing someone. Someone wonderful. Someone handsome. Someone completely made up. Who is this Mr. Right? Someone.exactly unlike her renegade neighbor Callahan O’Shea. Well, someone with his looks, maybe. His hot body. His knife-sharp sense of humor. His smarts and big heart.

Whoa. No. Callahan O’Shea is not her perfect man! Not with his unsavory past. So why does Mr. Wrong feel so…right?

Too Good to be True is set in beautiful New England we meet Grace- a history teaching, civil war re-enacting, dog loving, and boyfriend inventing girl with frizzy hair and some mild middle child issues. Grace has been making up boyfriends since she was a little girl and so when her sister feels guilty for stealing Grace’s fiance, she hits the perfect solution: she makes up another one.

Like the title says, this man is “too good to be true,” but her family jumps at the chance to meet him. Wyatt Dunn is perfect, a pediatric surgeon that rescues cats in his spare time, its hard to find anything not to love in this new fake boyfriend.
Meanwhile the house next door gets a new inhabitant in the form of the sexy ex-con Callahan O’Shea. He’s everything a girl can dream about (minus the minimum security prison time he served) and Grace soon starts to feel a huge attraction for him. Sadly she still has to perpetuate the lie of the fake boyfriend in front of her family and that means doing it in front of Callahan as well.
After pages of squabbling and hilarious dialogue, Cal and Grace finally hit it off. Their romance is simple and very sweet. Cal goes out of his way to do the most incredible, sweetest things possible to prove his love for Grace, including driving her to a movie theatre an hour away to surprise her with the movie Gone With The Wind. The only barrier to their relationship is the fact that Cal is an ex-con, having recently been released from prison, and Grace’s family does not know how to deal with that. (Please note that Cal is not an alpha, nor is he a reformed bad-boy.)

But how can she date Callahan the ex-con when her family will compare him to the fake standards of Wyatt Dunn?

I honestly enjoy the heros that Kristan Higgins writes into her stories. They are refreshingly different, well-rounded characters. I only wish I could hop into their heads and read their perspective on things once in awhile.

The author succeeds in making her characters more than one dimensional and injects some twists into the standard romance plotline. Grace’s younger sister could’ve been written with no depth, but that’s not the case. Her older sister, Margaret, could simply be a Type A, older sister, career driven witch, but she’s not. With the exception, perhaps, of the men Grace meets through the internet dating site, Higgins’ characters avoid the pitfalls of being all good or all bad.

It started slow for me and I was annoyed with the fact that Grace was a pushover – a true doormat – to her family and her youngest sister, Natalie, who became engaged to Grace’s ex-fiance. Sometimes I just wanted to scream at Grace to stop babying Natalie and helping her plan her wedding to the man you were supposed to be marrying!

These issues are cleared up by the end of the story when Grace finally makes her stand (and what a great ending to this story I might add!), so I suppose this is a case of the end justifying the means.

Grace’s efforts to land a guy and meeting pretty weird dates seemed way too reminiscent of her previous two books. The author should have gone a little differently here.

I was also pretty confused about her sisters. They seemed to be using her (especially Natalie) and I spent the first hundred pages hating the fiance-stealer bitch. If her sister really loved Grace so much, and really knew her, she would have seen beyond the pretense. I found it pretty self-serving and couldn’t really warm up to Natalie even though my feelings thawed somewhat towards the end. *SPOILER* I think she needed that jilting at the alter. *END SPOILER*

And I found the ending to be pretty ridiculous. You guessed it – The Big Fight. It was just put in there to give another dimension to Grace and Cal’s love story. I really thought Cal was above that.

If I had to point out one thing which I absolutely loathed, I won’t have an answer. The book is good, because Kristan Higgins is Kristan Higgins but I found it not to be my cup of tea. Ultimately, this is a highly subjective read. I’d leave it for you to decide.

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Review: The Next Best Thing

By Kristan Higgins. Grade C

I had great hopes with Ms. Higgins after reading two of her great works: Just One of The Guys and Until There was You. If you’ve read them – and only them – then you’d know what I am talking about. Even before beginning TNBT, I was a little apprehensive. She seemed too good to be true.
Alas. I was right.

Lucy Lang isn’t looking for fireworks.
She’s looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who’ll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbecue, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important: someone who won’t inspire the slightest stirring in her heart,or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can’t risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn’t enough either. So it’s goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate “friend with privileges” and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn’t going anywhere. As far as he’s concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

It has been more than five years since her husband Jimmy had had a car accident and died. She still hadn’t got over him. Though she maintains a regular friends-with-privileges relationship with Jimmy’s brother- Ethan, she suddenly decides that this is not the life she wants. Instead, she wants to live a healthy life with a loving family and loving children.
So despite the Black Widow’s curse that runs in her family- all the husbands in their family die (her father, two uncles, her grandfather and her husband) she pursues dating again but not too enthusiastically. For she isn’t over Jimmy yet.

I’m not the best judge here, but Lucy’s utter devotion to her dead spouse FIVE YEARS LATER seemed overdone to me. I could completely sympathize with her reluctance to begin dating again, But two-thirds of the way through the book, she is still breaking down into broken-hearted sobs on almost a daily basis. She is unable to have the simplest experience with another man without comparing it to the wonder that was her marriage with Jimmy. She still watches their wedding video so often that she leaves it in the DVD player. After a while, she just seemed pitiful to me. It gave me a headache, and even the author’s trademark LOL humour was conspicuously missing.

On the other hand, Ethan has loved Lucy his whole life and as it seems is still waiting for her to get over his brother.

After three-fourth book, the bad things about Jimmy start showing up which Lucy has never heard of before. How he had proposed marriage to someone else and how even though he knew that Ethan liked Lucy, he had deliberately gone out with her. Suddenly, she is not so much in love with her dead husband anymore, and chooses the next best thing: Ethan.

The book in my opinion is more about Jimmy than Ethan, How finally five years later, Lucy gets over her dead husband. In all four hundred pages, she has sex with Ethan, decides she’ll give him a chance and then screws up. It got on my nerves.
But of course, on the last page, after four hundred pages of drama, all it took was ONE minute to understand it all.

I didn’t like Lucy’s character. She seemed somewhat of a coward. It is hard to lose a loved one, but maybe the author could have described her grief in a more colourful way. No, not glossing over, but maybe tempering it with the right amount of heart and humour.

The only thing I liked about the book was the part of Check the toast.
(Read the book and you’ll understand)

Anyways the book is not as good. So sorry, Ms. Higgins .

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Review: Until There Was You

By Kristan Higgins. Grade: A

I read approximately 250 books, or 200 authors, in a year. And after reading just one book by the author, I already knew that Kristan Higgins is The One for 2011.
As a rule, I hate books with plots along these lines. At first glance, Until There Was You has everything I despise. A village of characters, good-girl-attracted-to-bad-boy-just-because-he-is-bad, shift of focus from h/h, and rekindling of teenage heartbreak. I was not eager for this book, until I remembered the author. Kristan Higgins. She can’t give you bad books. So I gave it a try. Thank God I did.

Posey Osterhagen can’t complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she’s surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend””sort of. Still, something’s missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking,something like Liam Murphy.
When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he’s back, sending Posey’s traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas,.

The theme of bad boy tamed by love is a classic in romance””but what the hell, it works. There is something to be said for the class biker boy: they do tend to work up the classic good girls. However, Liam is so much more than that. He has amazing depth, and while the author has shifted to the third person’s POV for the first time, she does it flawlessly.
He is THE MAN. A bad boy biker with a heart full of love for his one and only child. He is the kind of father you would love to have for your own daughter but never for yourself. He is crazy scary in his need to protect Nicole, but after all is said and done, he is a great father.

Posey is amazing. Her career choice was quirky, but said a lot about her character.

“Something that had life in it yet, even if it was slightly damaged, or broken. Something that might find new meaning, new beauty, if given the right home.”

She is unselfish and gives chances even when people don’t deserve them.

I love how all the characters were well developed. You could somehow read into their minds and understand why they say what they say but at the same time laugh out loud because it came out of nowhere. I loved loved loved Jon, her gay brother-in-law. I don’t think I have ever loved a secondary character more. For me, they used to be just props which enhance the overall story but don’t really affect it. Jon is so much more. He reminds me of Jules from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter Series.

There’s often a serious edge underlying Ms Higgins lighthearted books, and there’s plenty here. On Posey’s side, there are issues over her adoption: greatly loved, she nonetheless feels something of an outsider in her family, and worries that her parents wish she was more like her cousin, a strapping German beauty who looks just like Posey’s mom. This aspect of the book is well-drawn, with tenderness and realism. (Posey’s brother was also adopted, and plans to adopt a child with his male spouse, so there’s a very balanced view of the topic.) And I thought it interesting to have a hero with severe anxiety — it’s not a sexy disorder. I have one query though: I am not really an expert on OCD but I have read a couple of books (the most recent being Play Dirty by Sandra Brown) wherein OCD has been shown as something more serious than just washing hands for too long and checking the long more than twice. Maybe there are varying degrees which I am unaware of, and I would be glad if someone can clear that up for me.

My only problem was that I felt that Liam and Posey were more brother and sister than lovers. Jon and Posey had more chemistry, if you ask me.

Their romance builds very, very slowly. Twenty percent of the way through the book, Liam and Posey have only had a couple of chance encounters. They don’t form a real connection until more than halfway through the book, and even then most of the good times happen off-screen. What we see on the page are the bad moments, when Liam insists that he only wants a no-strings fling and Posey says, “Sure, of course, no problem,” while inside she’s hoping that maybe, eventually, if she’s patient Liam will want something more.

I found it unsatisfying that Liam so easily gets anything he wants; Posey barely seems to hold a grudge for something extremely hurtful he once did, and after a little initial resistance, which is probably what gets his attention, she throws herself at him at every turn. He always gets to be the one running the show.

We know that Liam is a stand-up, solid guy once’s he’s committed to a woman, thanks to the flashbacks from his marriage and his devotion to his daughter. But the glowing, soul-deep devotion that Liam had for his dead wife only made it harder for me to stomach the careless way he treated Posey. He uses her, and he knows it. That part could have been improved.

All in all, I would say that it is one of my favourite books, but not one of my favourite romances.

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Review: Just One Of The Guys

By Kristan Higgins. Grade: A

It has been a long long time since I laughed so much while reading anything. I laughed out loud so often that my mom came running from the other room, worried what I was up to.
My first book by the author but definitely not the last!

Being one of the guys isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,

So when journalist Chastity O’Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it’s time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1″”she’s five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2″”she’s cursed with four alpha male older brothers.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there’s only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she’s never quite gotten over””although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.

Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can’t seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys.,

Chastity O’Neill’s clock is ticking. It’s about time to settle down. Moving back home seems like a good idea. Surrounded by family and living in a house she owns is heaven. Almost. Well, not exactly. Being in love with her brother’s best friend Trevor Meade complicates everything. He was her first love and seeing him work his chick magnet magic won’t be easy. Determined to start a family she frantically searches for a male candidate. Preferably one who isn’t intimidated by her sometimes boyish behavior. Hello? Four brothers! He should be taller than her, too. A measly 5’11. Hmpfh. Chastity has come to terms with the fact that Trevor and her simply aren’t meant to be. Moving on. Trying to. If he only,

Chastity was a real, down-to-earth person. Flaws and all. Not your typical romance heroine. She is described as being five foot, eleven and three-quarter inches. Amazonian build. She doesn’t worry about girly-girl things like shopping, her weight or collecting shoes. She prefers her red high tops, has a mammoth crush on Derek Jeeter, worships old St. Lou, and shares a few tender moments with her ugly dog, Buttercup (who takes on a personality of her own I might add). She is such a great character – certainly not a weak female in need of a man! She has beefy(ish) arms and shoulders as she is a rower, a massive Lord of the Rings obsession, and a fierce independent streak.

You will be rooting for her like you have never rooted for anyone, and this even leads to a few slightly emotional moments because you’ll be so involved with her character.

Her first person narration has been pulled off brilliantly! Check this excerpt:

Mom: “Chastity, you’re such a prude.”
Chastity: “Mom, you named me Chastity Virginia, okay? If I’m a prude, it’s partly your fault.”

The author has created rich characters – people you want to call your friends, and gave them the flaws that make them endearing and real. This book is loaded with secondary characters and subplots, but all the characters are fully developed – particularly her family – who each have a distinctive personality and voice. The family bantering is great – I loved the nicknames and teasing – it made them even more realistic.

However, as amazing this book was, there were some reasons I didn’t give it an A+.

A) Lack of plot. I wished that the book followed some particular story line instead of just recounting Chastity’s life. The stalker/pest was a nice angle, but not played enough. Somewhere in the middle, after the continuous near misses with Trevor, I was a little peeved that the story was not moving along as well as it should have.

B) Some of the plot turns in the final quarter of the book were unexpected, and this did give me brief moments of delight, but ultimately so many of the characters seemed like they hadn’t grown up enough by the end of the book, and so many of the plots and subplots felt glossed over, that I wondered if this wasn’t simply a case of there being too many characters and subplots for the length of this book.
If the author had removed a couple of characters and some scenes, I don’t think it would have affected the overall story much.

C) Another negative was that the book seems to drag on at times and by the end it doesn’t feel like there is enough details on the romantic resolution. The ending felt too rushed. There is no insight into Trevor’s thoughts and I am still wondering why Trevor waited as long as he did. The “I-didn’t-want-to-take-a-risk-and-lose-you” was such a loser attitude that I couldn’t believe anybody swallowed it. Trevor’s character needed work.

D) I wasn’t sure where you were going to take Mike and Betty. To be honest, I kept thinking, “Nah, she won’t.” But then you did. Though a hard pill to swallow, it again shows the downside to marrying a fireman and adds that extra note of caution to Chastity’s ultimate relationship. Will she end up happier than her mother? At least she goes into her marriage with totally open eyes.

But all of my nit-picking aside, it is a book that definitely deserves reading. Shelved!

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