Just finished reading . . . The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

March 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm 15 comments

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

This review cross-posted from Goodreads.
View all my reviews at Goodreads >>

The Next Best ThingLucy Lang isn’t looking for fireworks…

She’s looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who’ll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, 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?

This is a hard one to review. I LOVE Kristan Higgins engaging writing style, and her cast of characters. I was up until the wee hours last night finishing it, because I really wanted to see how it turned out.

Yet, Lucy made me so frustrated. Through most of the story, I kept thinking, “You seriously need to get into therapy. Grief counseling. Something.” I didn’t expect her to “get over” her husband’s death. But, by the end of the book, I never really felt convinced she dealt with her grief in any significant way, and she was still doing some of the unhealthy things she’d fallen into–and showed no sign of stopping.

I loved Ethan, a beta hero if there ever was one. But, the 1st person pov made it really difficult to get where he was coming from, until the very end of the book. I really wanted more of him in the early and middle parts of the book.

One of the things I did enjoy greatly about TNBT was the family setting. Ethan’s parents treatment of him made me want to howl at them, but it felt real. Also, I loved Lucy’s “Black Widow” aunts. Often, main characters seem to live in a vacuum devoid of family attachments. A hallmark of Kristian Higgins book is big messy families, and I always like the energy they bring to her books.

A lot of Lucy’s motive for resisting love with Ethan was that she was afraid he’d also die, and she was unable to risk loving and losing him like she did Jimmy. Yet, that issue felt like it was brushed aside at the end, not addressed. So while I enjoyed the “big declaration” moment, this one issue made the end a bit frustrating for me.

In the end, I still love Kristan Higgins writing, and am really looking forward to her next book, All I Ever Wanted, coming out this summer. There was enough good stuff in TNBT that I’m glad I read it (and don’t begrudge the 4:30 am bedtime), but it’s not one of my favorites by her.

  • Kristan Higgins’ site.
  • Excerpt for The Next Best Thing. (Scroll down linked page.)
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Entry filed under: Contemporary Romance, Just Finished Reading (Review), Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chris  |  March 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hmm. I’m feeling very mixed on this one!

    Reply
    • 2. Renee  |  March 3, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      Yeah, it was such a mixed bag!

      Reply
  • 3. Patti  |  March 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I really enjoyed this one. Like you I liked the Black Widows and “got” that she was afraid she’d end up killing Ethan. I did feel bad for Ethan, having that shadow to live under…

    And yes, I also wondered why she didn’t get counseling!

    Reply
    • 4. Renee  |  March 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm

      Yes, my heart went out to Ethan so much. I really wanted more of him.

      And, no one ever suggested it even!

      Reply
  • 5. Lori  |  March 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I keep thinking I should read her. But something keeps me from getting her books. Hmmm…

    Reply
    • 6. Renee  |  March 5, 2010 at 12:11 am

      I read library books, except for Just One of the Guys, which I have in Adobe Digital Editions (ack). I think you’d like her sense of humor.

      Reply
  • 7. Hilcia  |  March 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this book, especially since I know you really like Higgins. I’ve only read one book by her, and didn’t quite enjoy her writing as much as you do, but I was hoping to try one of her other books. I’ve already decided this one won’t be the one. 😦

    Reply
    • 8. Renee  |  March 5, 2010 at 12:10 am

      Yes, there are definitely others I’d highly recommend (see my reply to orannia, below).

      Reply
  • 9. nath  |  March 4, 2010 at 8:03 am

    I’m with you Renee. I think she should have gotten grief counseling or something. Ugh. And it was so unfair for Ethan!! T_T

    I still love Kristan Higgins, I just don’t think this book was for me per se. I’m glad she has another book coming out this summer! 😀

    Reply
    • 10. Renee  |  March 5, 2010 at 12:09 am

      Yes, I kept feeling so bad for him, and sometimes wondered why he kept trying so hard. (Though some of that came clear toward the end.)

      Exactly. Somehow, while I was disappointed in this one, it didn’t really affect (too much) my liking for her writing and stories. We’re lucky we don’t have to wait another year!

      Reply
      • 11. nath  |  March 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

        I think if Ethan had stopped trying, he would really have faded in the background. Sigh. And I don’t think he could just give up. It just wasn’t in his nature…

        Reply
  • 12. orannia  |  March 4, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I’ve been muttering under my breath that Kristan Higgins wasn’t in my library…but I just checked and three of her books are there, including this one. Should I start with this book do you think?

    Reply
    • 13. Renee  |  March 5, 2010 at 12:07 am

      I’d go for one of her earlier ones. Just One of the Guys is my favorite, but Catch of the Day is also good.
      Her heroines are always underdogs who are struggling to stand on their own two feet, despite well-intentioned (but often mis-guided) family and friends. I really like her style! 🙂

      Reply
  • 14. orannia  |  March 5, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I think my library has both, so will pick which one I like the sound of best and request that. Thank you Renee 🙂

    Reply
  • 15. Erotic Horizon  |  March 7, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I will ive through your review on this one…

    I really have trouble rushing out to get books with chic lit covers.

    I am pleased these protags did not turn you off from Higgins style….

    Reply

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