Friday, April 09, 2010

REVIEW: The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

The Next Best ThingCOPYRIGHT: 2010
PAGES: 393
SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Straight Romance
REASON FOR READING: I enjoyed my first book by Higgins - Just One of the Guys

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?

Lucy had only been married 8 months when she lost her husband in a tragic car accident. This happened over 5 years ago and she still has not gotten over it, to put it mildly. In fact, in my opinion the girl could use some serious grief counseling. But as the story begins her sister has just had a baby and that starts her thinking and she has convinced herself she is ready to move on - she wants to meet someone and start her own family. Ethan is her dead husband's brother and has been a rock of support for her for the last 5 years. And with whom she enjoys "friends with benefits". This news was a bit of a shocker to me even though I had read it in the blurb. It's had to imagine women (and men) who actually think this is a good idea.

The story is told in a first person narrative and has the usual disadvantage of never knowing what Ethan is thinking or feeling. Lucy is one messed up person who seems to spend too much time playing the video of her wedding and crying. Normally I would be totally irritated with this type of heroine but I found myself very sympathetic towards her. Lucy works in the family-owned bakery with her mother and two aunts (called the Black Widows) who were also widowed at a fairly young age. These women seem to be content in their widowhood and cannot understand why Lucy wants to marry again. Why take the risk since all the men in the family die young. This is why I was so sympathetic of Lucy - working with these three was not a healthy situation. But there was lots of humor and some touching moments in this book which really balanced out the sadness. I cried along with Lucy and laughed too. But sometimes I wanted to shake her in her treatment of Ethan who was a wonderful guy.

The characterizations of the widows and Lucy's sister were well drawn. The sister is deathly afraid her husband will die young too like her mother, sister and aunt's husbands and has become quite neurotic. Just when I was starting to lose patience with Lucy she makes an amazing discovery about Ethan and my heart just melts. I loved the ending. I couldn't make up my mind on the grade for the longest time. But it's still so memorable after a couple months that I had to rate it pretty high.



Rosario said...

I've seen mixed reviews of this one, so it's good to see you enjoyed it.

nath said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it :D This was well-written and I loved Ethan... but I just couldn't accept Lucy's attitude and treatment towards Ethan. Luckily, the lightbulb lighted up at the end! Loved the ending... but this was painful... not because it was bad, but because I felt so bad for Ethan :( So I gave it a lower grade.

One thing though, Ms Higgins sure knows how to write :D

Christine said...

Hi Renee,
I read this one a little while ago and LOVED it. When I started reading it and got the gist of the premise, I thought I was going to be uncomfortable with the story line, but I ended up loving so much about it. I'm on board with you regarding the A- grade. I'd probably say the same thing if I ever got myself to review it. LOL.

ReneeW said...

Rosario: Yes, there was quite a difference of opinion and I can see why but somehow it worked for me.

Nath: I felt bad for Ethan too but I think the ending made up for it (to me anyway). I'd like to read more by Higgins, I love her style. It was hard to put this one down.

Christine: LOL, I'm glad to see someone agrees with me. I haven't been doing much reviewing lately either.

Kate Diamond said...

I think I need to give Higgins a try! Thanks for the rec.

Emma Cunningham said...

Sorry to do this in comments - I'm looking for an e-mail address for you so I can send you news about Harlequin and Carina Press (including some review books that does in fact include another Kristan Higgins!). Could you e-mail me at with your contact info and then delete this post if you want?

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...