Friday, March 25, 2011

"The Next Best Thing" by Kristan Higgins

I got started on a Kristan Higgins reading marathon after finishing her book, "My One and Only".  So I cruised around Paperback Swap and requested a bunch of her titles that sounded interesting to me. 

Kristan's books are a bit different than my normal books that I choose to read because she writes in the first person.  It is actually kind of cool but it took me a little while to get used to it...

Okay, so "The Next Best Thing" is really a great book, BUT it made me sad throughout and I had a hard time finishing it because I was so sad!  The story is about a young widow named Lucy.  She comes from a family of young widows who all own a bakery together.  Her husband, at the time of the story, has been dead for over five and a half years.  When her younger sister (a completely neurotic mess who is afraid that her own husband will die young) has a baby, Lucy realized that she wants to try again - with marriage - but only with someone that she is not really in love with so that she will never be hurt again.

Enter Ethan.  Her dead husband's brother and her best friend.  With benefits.  Somewhere along the line, about two or three years after Jimmy's death, Lucy and Ethan because sex-buddies.  The book opens with her ending their affair because she wants to get married and have kids.  Ethan, for his part, takes the news well and we don't spend hardly ANY time in his head to know what he is feeling but it's written all over his face when Kristan puts him in a scene.

Lucy has a hard time moving on from being Jimmy's widow mainly because everyone around her is more comfortable with her in that role.  Her mother and aunt's are known as the Black Widows (their last name is Black - they haven't killed any of their husbands!) and Lucy fits in to their world and they are happy to remind her how none of them have ever wanted another husband.  

Then there are Lucy's in-laws (Ethan's parents) who seem to want her to stay frozen in time as Jimmy's wife.  They are a big Italian family but they (as is the case in most Italian families) seem to forget that they have a second son and when they do remember that he's alive, it is to remind him of how he is not Jimmy.  I didn't like these people at all!

In the end, Lucy has to decide if she is willing to risk being in another relationship and if she is willing to take that chance with Ethan.  I liked that as the story went on, we see that Jimmy is not some perfect person as we tend to make the deceased in to and that helps you, the reader, cheer Lucy on to find the right man for her.

Great story overall, but I have to admit, I really actually cringe at stories that use the ex-brother-in-law/or sister-in-law angle.  It just is not my thing.  This was a complex story that was told beautifully and is definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Believe in Me" by Laura Moore

I read this one before I should have - being that it was book number two in Laura Moore's Rosewood Trilogy.  "Believe in Me" focuses on middle Radcliffe sister Jordan Radcliffe.

Recovering from her husbands affair and dealing with his lies and betrayal, Jordan Radcliffe returns home to Virginia and her family's horse farm, Rosewood, with her three small children in tow.  Knowing that this was not the life she had envisioned, she is relieved to have the support of her sisters Margot and Jade to help her during this time of recovery.

Needing to make a life for herself and her children, Jordan decides to start up her own interior design firm and while on that route she crosses paths with architect Owen Gage.  Jordan doesn't think that she'll ever find another man attractive or want another relationship ever again, her first impression of the sexy architect only reinforces that belief when she believes him to have taken her design ideas and the job that she was bidding on.

Owen Gage does not believe in long-term relationships and Jordan Radcliffe has that written all over her.  And yet Owen finds himself unable to stop thinking about Jordan and wanting to experience a relationship with her - kids and all.  When Owen starts a renovation on the property right next door to Rosewood, he decides to show Jordan that he believes in her abilities and hires her to do the interior decorating on the job.

With all of their time together, it was only a matter of it before they succumb to the attraction that has been slowly building.  Jordan relishes in the feeling of being desirable again after her husband's betrayal and Owen finds himself wondering if he can be the kind of man that Jordan needs.

Of course like all good stories, there are misunderstandings and conflicts and Owen opts to walk away rather than test and wait and see if he and Jordan can have something permanent but in the end, he cannot stay away.  It was all wildly romantic!

Laura Moore again produces a great romantic story with a little less focus on the equestrian angle than book one but gives this one more of an architectural and decorating one.  All together it made for a great read; hard to put down.