Showing posts with label Kristan Higgins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kristan Higgins. Show all posts

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4) by Kristan Higgins

Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé's wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…
Emmaline, Manningsport's only female cop, needs a date to her ex-fiancé's wedding because she is still hurt by the way he dumped her. Jack Holland needs to get out of town and agrees to go to the wedding with Em because after having saved three out of four teenagers from an accident he is traumatized. Additionally as a result of all the publicity, his ex-wife is back in town hoping for a reconciliation.

I liked the couple in this romance. Em is a cop and a bit of a tomboy and Jack is a gorgeous man, but not superficial or vain about his looks, on the contrary, he's unaffected and sweet. Both characters were hurt in past relationships by selfish people and still bare deep scars. They work through those past conflicts as their own romance evolves.

A developing relationship between Jack and Em is interrupted by two over-long sections, the first covers Em's relationship with her parents and ex-boyfriend, and the second gives details about Jack's engagement, marriage and divorce from his ex-wife. Sandwiched between those two is the wedding section where Jack and Em get to know each other and a real attraction is born. Additionally, Higgins works her magic with funny, outrageous scenes, some riddled with lies, great dialog, and some hot sex thrown in for good measure. It is unfortunate that those overlong sections detailing background stories take away some of the momentum driving the romance forward in the wedding scenes, and that those three distinct sections give this romance a bit of a disjointed feel.

As always when reading a Higgins romance secondary characters impact the story, some of them popular characters already featured in this series. This time, however, a few of the new characters introduced are memorable for their actions: Em's ex-boyfriend for his struggle with obesity and overcompensation as a result of losing the weight, Em's parents' inadequacies and struggles to understand her, and her sister's sweetness and understanding.

Although the romance is interrupted, overall In Your Dreams is a very good romance read with a likable couple, some interesting secondary characters, and a few of those thoroughly embarrassing and/or funny moments we expect from Higgins. I particularly like Em and Jack. Em as an independent woman who doesn't need rescuing, and Jack as a caring, sweet man who takes his time, but in the end is just looking for true happiness.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Blue Heron #4
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin/HQN/ September 30, 2014
Source: eARC Little Bird Publicity
Grade: B-

The Best Man, #1
The Perfect Match, #2
Waiting on You, #3
In Your Dreams, #4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristan Higgins is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into 21 languages and received numerous starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and Romantic Times. Her books have been listed as Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, National Public Radio, Library Journal and Amazon.

Kristan lives with her heroic and tolerant firefighter husband and two snarky and entertaining teenagers in her hometown in Connecticut. For more information about her books visit Kristan Higgins here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Update + The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

My poor blog! I'm afraid that real life is kicking my butt and my time is limited at the moment. I'm actually doing most of my reading during my commutes in and out of work and right before bedtime. But, I am still also suffering a bit from "reader's block," which is not good. Sigh... Anyway, here are a few blog-related updates.

Since Google decided to discontinue the much loved and nifty Google Reader in July, (Why? Does that make sense to anyone but Google?) I took the time to look around this last Saturday and signed up with The Old Reader. I'm liking it so far because it sort of works like the old Google Reader used to before they upgraded it (just in time to discontinue it). So, I'm all set up and following all my favorite blogs there already. However, I'm not married to it yet, so if anyone has a better recommendation for a FREE reader, please let me know in this post!

I also found the whole "Amazon Buys Goodreads! extra, extra read all about it" piece of news a bit disturbing. I'm hoping that Goodreads policies won't change. I do love keeping track of my books, updates and notes on what I'm currently reading there. Plus, I love interacting with friends at Goodreads. It would be a shame if all that changed. Additionally, linking Goodreads and Amazon accounts (reviews) would be a total deal breaker for me, so I'm going to "wait and see" how this develops.


The Best Man
by Kristan Higgins
But going back to reading, I decided to give "romance" a shot and picked up a couple of books, one of them was Kristan Higgins' latest contemporary romance, The Best Man. Now, this is only the second book I have read by this author, the first one didn't necessarily work for me because although Higgins' portrayal of relationships between family and friends was highly enjoyable, I did not enjoy her style of writing in the first-person point of view perspective and the 'chick-lit' flavor that overwhelmed the story. Additionally I found the romance in that book to be more of a side story. However, I heard some great things about Higgins' latest books, and the fact that she switched to the third person point of view perspective encouraged me to pick up this romance.

There are a few aspects of The Best Man that I liked. It is true that Higgins excels when writing from the third person point of view. The premise of this story drew me to it. Small town girl Faith falls in love with her high school sweetheart Jeremy, the perfect man and after eight years, during their wedding, the best man Levi encourages Jeremy to tell Faith the truth about himself. Jeremy comes out of the closet and tells her that he is gay. Three years later Jeremy is the small town's doctor, Levi the Chief of Police and Faith lives in San Francisco. But all that changes when after many personal romantic failures, Faith is called home by her sister to save their widowed father from an "unscrupulous woman." Faith will have to deal with seeing the "love of her life" Jeremy, with townspeople who still feel sorry for "poor Faithie," and worst of all with that "stiff hemorrhoid" Levi.

It sounds interesting, doesn't it? Well, it is and it isn't. Faith and Levi's romance begins with an antagonistic edge that grows before it changes to passion and love. Higgins binds all the characters in this contemporary romance, Jeremy, Levi, Faith, their families as secondary characters, and periphery characters by providing a deeper and detailed background for the central characters and a general history of the town and its social structure, including how this social structure deeply affects its citizens or featured characters. This is all quite relevant and well done, as is the slow development of the relationship that ensues between Faith and Levi and the strong and true friendship between Levi and Jeremy.

Family relationships and humor are also quite important to the plot and, from my previous experience, this aspect of the story is usually well done by Higgins. Unfortunately in The Best Man, I found Faith's family members and friends to be an extremely unlikable lot (this includes the highly unlovable grandparents who can't stop arguing and calling each other names!), and the overall humor is in poor taste. For example: I didn't find this scene funny at all. Faith is obliviously on a date with a married man when his wife shows up with her toddler to confront her, and both this woman (and the toddler) proceed to call Faith a whore over a dozen times. What is that? This made me uncomfortable while reading it, but in addition I really disliked the way the women related to each other and others in this story. This was a problem for me, but there is more.

I always look for LGBTQ characters when reading mainstream books: romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction... whatever! When well done, it makes for a more realistic and well rounded read. However, in my opinion, the author should at least do his/her homework in order to develop or to incorporate LGBTQ characters successfully into their stories. Making one of them the butt of jokes as Higgins does with a trans character in this book is a major fail and doesn't work. Making the one gay character (Jeremy, the perfectly gorgeous, perfect man) into the town's lovable mascot and Faith's faithful puppy-like, adoring BFF, but giving him no love life to speak of is stereotypical and just down right unrealistic. Additionally, for me, the overall dialog between various characters when discussing Jeremy and Faith's situation is more than disappointing, and Faith's general attitude about her botched wedding is highly frustrating.

Levi is an interesting and strong male protagonist with an excellent backstory that gives him depth. His feelings for Faith are believable in the end. I also enjoyed Levi's close relationship with his sister and thought his strong, loyal friendship with Jeremy as one of the best of this book. However, the negatives outweighed the positives for me. It is unfortunate that I chose to read this particular romance by Higgins. The Best Man began with a good premise, but unfortunately the execution was not to my taste. Grade: D+

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reviews at Musings

My Reads
Today you can find my Weekly Reads post at Musings. It was a week with mixed results for me on the reading front. Some great finds, some disappointments -- but still reading, which is a good thing, right?

This Week's Reviews

Also at Musings you'll find my reviews for this week -- they were done as I read the books and were not scheduled.

You will find Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews, a Sci-fi Futuristic Romance short story, and Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins, a Contemporary Romance. Two very different stories and reactions from me. See you there!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review: Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins

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-foot-eleven of 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...
This week I decided to start by reading a contemporary romance that sounded right up my alley and I thought, why not? I'll start with something fun and easy. Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins was supposed to be a book with two of my favorite tropes: friends to lovers and a secret crush. Well, it did have both those tropes, but there were other factors involved.

This story is told in first person point of view from Chastity O'Neill's perspective. She's a journalist who recently moved back home where her whole family lives-- her parents, four brothers, their wives and children. Her father, brothers and her "forever" love interest, Trevor, are all firemen or in the life-saving business. Chastity is attractive, but some consider her too tall and too athletic looking. She's insecure about her looks and looking for a permanent relationship and wants to get over the crush she's had on Trevor since the third grade.

Chastity's insecurities and her search for that permanent relationship set up the book and some truly hilarious situations. She has great wit and her snappy remarks are a hoot! The relationship between Chastity and her brothers are beautifully developed and you can really feel the warmth between them. The brotherly/sisterly love and banter is great. The parents are going through a divorce and that part of the story is quite heartbreaking -- at least it was for me.

One of my problems with this book was Trevor, the hero. He was likable as a guy, thoughtful and more than a bit insecure. But as a hero, I'm not sure weather he was likable or not... he was a kind of shadowy figure in the book seen through Chastity's eyes and for most of it, it seemed as if he cared for her as a sister or a friend. I never felt the chemistry between them.

I know this story is in first person point of view and we're seeing it from her perspective, but usually, somehow as readers, we get the hint -- even when the heroine doesn't -- that the hero wants her. As a result, because the first person point of view wasn't well defined, there seems to be a disconnect in this story. The hero not only felt shadowy to me, but at times he felt more like a secondary character.

My other problem? There's a triangle for a while when Chastity finds someone she commits to, Ryan the surgeon, and she makes some decisions that bothered me. Now, Ryan was pretty well developed and I thought he took Trevor's place in the book -- not in the romance but in development. I thought this relationship really showcased Chastity's desperation. I'll admit that it engendered some funny moments as well as truly bad judgment on her part, but again... where was Trevor?

Things worked out well in the end for Chastity. I just wish we had more scenes like the last one in the book when Trevor and Chastity actually connected. The excellent humor and the great family relationship kept me reading this book to the end. I give this one a C

Visit author here. Read excerpt here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile on June 13, 2009