My One and Only
My One and Only is my first Kristan Higgins book. I’ve been meaning to try her forever, but her books are popular and the AAR staff likes to snap them up. I definitely enjoyed my first foray, and plan to try other books by Higgins. But while I found the book very funny (at one point I was reading in bed and had to stifle my laughter so as not to wake my husband), I also found it flawed. This particular hero and heroine were a little problematic for me.
Harper James is a divorce attorney on Martha’s Vineyard. You’d think it would be a sad job, but Harper sees herself as someone who shepherds people through a difficult time in their lives, helping them see things philosophically, and looking out for their financial interests. As the book opens, she proposes to her boyfriend of two years – Dennis, a firefighter – and is interrupted by a call from her stepsister Willa – who is marrying Harper’s ex-brother-in-law. The wedding is taking place in a matter of days, in Montana, so Harper will be traveling and seeing her ex-husband Nick for the first time in years.
Harper and Nick married young; she was just out of college, and he was only a few years older. The marriage imploded in less than a year, but both of them still have feelings for each other that time hasn’t changed. After the initial awkwardness of the wedding, they are (sort of) forced to take a road trip home together. As they travel through the west, they both relive their reasons for breaking up, their past family issues, and reasons they might still want to be together.
What did I enjoy about this book? First of all, I really liked Higgins’ writing style, and appreciated the first person POV (I know others have trouble with it, but I nearly always like it – particularly in a contemporary romance). Her descriptive powers are put to good use in this road romance, and you get a definite sense of place – no small accomplishment when the action takes place in Martha’s Vineyard, Montana, New York City, and a Dakota or two.
I also genuinely enjoyed the humor. it’s quirky, funny, and had me laughing out loud more than once. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone use “Crotch” and “Holy Testicle Tuesday” as swearwords, but it works here (I personally hate the word “crotch”, but I might be tempted to lift “Holy Testicle Tuesday” for my own use).
So what didn’t work for me? The hero and heroine. Yep – neither of them. I get that it’s hard to write flawed but still likable characters, but these two each had flaws that pushed the bounds of likability a little too much for me. Many of Harper’s problems are rooted in her childhood. She was abandoned by her mother at a vulnerable age (13), and some of the fallout from that added to the breakdown of her marriage. All of that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense? Her constant need to give people marriage advice, most of which consists of “Your marriage is doomed.” I can understand a deep need to give advice; I’m what Malcolm Gladwell terms “pathologically helpful” myself, and can barely contain myself from giving lost strangers directions and telling people what they should buy in stores. However, you’d think anyone would refrain from telling perfect strangers in a restaurant that they shouldn’t get married. It’s really outside of too much.
So you would think I’d blame the break-up on the marriage on know-it-all Harper. Nope. I blame overly-controlling Nick. He actually reminded me – unpleasantly – of one of the biggest jerk heroes of all time, Ramon from Judith McNaught’s Tender Triumph. If you’ve read the book (and I can’t be the only romance reader who went on a big McNaught glom and ran smack into this old school gem), you know that to Roman, love meant leaving behind your life and your country without asking pesky questions or thinking about your own wants and needs. Nick isn’t that bad, but he has some of the same tendencies. Marrying him means marrying him right now. Not finishing law school. Living where he wants to live. Accepting that his career is more important than anything you want to do, including spending the occasional night together. Now in Nick’s defense, it’s evident in the epilogue that he’s changed his ways. However, that change happens offstage, which makes it hard to believe. Very late in the book itself, he still becomes irrationally offended when Harper needs to go back to her home and her job. Which in turn makes Harper feel guilty for the same. I wanted to see major groveling on his part and a huge apology, neither of which was forthcoming.
That said, this book is pushed into the B range by the great settings, fun secondary characters (I loved Dennis and BeverLee), and humor. If the flaws of the hero and heroine are less annoying to you, you’ll likely enjoy it even more.
I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.
|Review Date:||March 16, 2011|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|