Somebody to Love
In this sequel, Higgins adds characters to the Maine community that built her fan base. Like Maggie and Malone in Catch of the Day, and Lucy and Ethan in The Next Best Thing, trust fund baby and children’s author Parker Welles and her father’s right hand man James Cahill, must hike a rough hill to find love.
When Parker’s father is imprisoned for insider trading, Parker learns not only have her rooms in his mansion been confiscated, but her trust fund is gone as well. What she’s left with beside her son Nicky is a cottage in rural coastal Maine.
James, who vacationed as a child in the town with the cottage, knows that the inheritance is nothing to brag about. In fact, it’s a hoarder’s dream and hasn’t been kept up in decades.
Since her cousin’s wedding when Parker jumped him and they had torrid sex in one of the bedrooms, James has been enamored with her, even though she hates that he’s five years younger than she is and he is her father’s yes man.
Showing up to flip the cottage and sell it quickly, Parker is appalled at what a wreck it is. She’s grateful to see James, even though she believes her father has sent him to help and is paying him to do so. Their summer of cleaning out and fixing up the cottage while Parker finds her feet as a former trust fund baby and James wrestles with his painful personal past makes up the bulk of the book.
Higgins, for those who haven’t read one of her books, is a quirky writer who doesn’t follow the standard pattern of authors who write books about city women stuck in rural settings or sophisticates finding happiness in down-home people and pastimes. This means the unexpected is to be expected in her romances. These unexpected moments, starting in this case with Parker’s children’s book characters becoming her Greek chorus, add charm and force characters to act and react in wonderful ways.
Oddly loveable and believable characters are Higgins’ forte. Parker’s son, mother, father, Aunt Viv, James’ Little Brother, and the denizens of the Maine town make the story vibrant and alive, just as Parker’s and James’ darkest moments and their quest for peaceful resolutions to them give the story depth.
All of this would make the book perfect if it weren’t for two startling problems. First, Parker herself is often too naïve to be believed. At thirty-five, she can’t recognize common substances that someone her age should know and she is too hung up on the five year age difference between her and James.
Second, James also has his baffling moments. Other than their one sexual encounter, Parker treats him like dirt, calling him “Thing One,” a comment on his status as her father’s lackey. Why he wants to spend a summer doing manual labor instead of looking for a job now that his boss is in jail never makes sense. Often this and other naïve moves make him look like the worst of beta heroes who can’t stand up for himself. A little less grit in Parker and a little more in James would go a long way to making this a more satisfying book.
While this might not be the strongest of the Maine books by Higgins, it does further the ongoing plotline and at the end delivers the Warm Fuzzles (Parker’s words, not mine) that romance readers expect.