Thursday, August 12, 2010

All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

I've been a bit distracted by Christian and Olli *swoon* from Verbotene Liebe lately (thanks Kris *shakes fist*) and much of my internet time has been taken up in drooling watching them on YouTube.  However, I have decided enough is enough and I should post something.  I remembered that I've been meaning to review this wonderful book - so, my apologies for being a slacker and here it is.

Why I read it:  I picked it up at NetGalley and I've enjoyed all but the last one of Kristan Higgins' books (the previous release - the Next Best Thing- I didn't read - it sounded too similar to some of her previous books and the relationship was between the heroine and her dead husband's brother which squicked me out a little so I gave it a pass).  However, this relationship is between two people who have not previously related to one another and I do so enjoy Ms. Higgins' sense of humour so I was happy to read it.  I'm glad I did.  It rocked.

What it's about:  (Here's the blurb from the author's website) "One happily-ever-after rocking chair…
And no sign of any forthcoming babies to rock in ol’ Georgebury, Vermont. For Callie Grey, turning thirty means coming to grips with the fact that her boss (and five-week fling) is way overdue in his marriage proposal. And way off track, because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company’s new Miss Perfect. If that isn’t bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a 3-0 birthday bash in the family funeral home.
Bad goes to worse when she stirs up a relationship with the town’s most eligible — yet not so warm and fuzzy — veterinarian, Ian McFarland, in order to flag Mark’s attention. So Ian’s more comfortable with animals… So he’s formal, orderly and just a bit tense. The ever-friendly, fun-loving and spontaneous Callie decides it’s time for Ian to get a personality makeover. But, dang — if he doesn’t shock the heck out of her, she might actually fall for Vermont’s unlikeliest eligible bachelor…

What worked for me:  Quite a bit actually. This book was funny and smart and had quite a few laugh out loud moments.  There was even a part where I cried ( - but I'm not saying anything more about it - no spoilers here!)
I laughed at the description of Fleur who "due to three weeks spent in England during college" spoke with a varying British accent.   I like the way that Ms. Higgins can draw a sharp picture of a secondary character with such quirks.   I enjoyed the Vermont setting and other secondary characters too, especially Noah, Callie's grandfather.  Plus, there's a dog, Bowie.  (And, Bowie's still with us at the end of the book - in fact, it looks like he got a little 'romance' himself with the vet's sexy bitch - and by bitch I am of course referring to a female dog).
I liked Callie quite a bit. She's the sort of lady I'd like to know.  Funny, kind and enthusiastic. I was amused by Callie's inner voices - instead of an angel and a demon on her shoulder she had a vapid Betty Boop and her inner Michelle Obama who gave her good advice and told her to kick Mark to the kerb.
Mark was a piece of work - a real user -  but Callie knew it most of the time and worked hard on getting over him.  I was a bit worried near the end that she would cave and I don't think I would have let him get as close as she did (I disapproved a tad) but she saw through him (lucky for her - grrr).
Ian however, was lovely.  While I would have liked more of him (see below) he was a perfect foil for Callie who had to be in everyone's business and try and fix everyone's problems - he "saw" her and understood her quite quickly even though he was very different to her.  He's much more reserved and shy/quiet.  He doesn't want her to fix everything in his life and it was interesting to watch Callie struggle with that.  She did bring him out of his shell a little but he was always himself.  The character growth is really all Callie's.
It's been a little while since I read the book, but I think the blurb is wrong.  Callie didn't go out with Ian to get Mark's attention or make Mark jealous.  She did start off with the idea of going out with Ian to help her get over Mark (but that's not using) and after a while, she realised that she wanted to be with Ian and bugger Mark (yay!). 

What didn't work for me: My "beef" with Ms. Higgins' books probably stems from the fact that they are all written in first person POV and the typical Higgins' hero is the "strong silent type".  Ian was more communicative than previous heroes but I would still have liked more of him.  There are other first person books I've read where I've felt I knew the hero well enough and this has usually been done in dialogue where the hero speaks for himself.  (eg, Outlander - I felt like I knew Jamie Fraser pretty well by the end of the book, notwithstanding that the story was told (in bk1 at least) wholly in the Claire's POV.  Not that I had enough of him mind - is that even possible? - but just that I felt I had a handle on what makes him tick.)  I kind of had to fill in the blanks myself with Ian - I had to imagine some of his motivations and thoughts because I just didn't get enough of him.    (Having said that, the hero in Catch of the Day (Malone) was almost completely a cipher so Ian was a vast improvement.)  I do love Ms. Higgins' writing style and her humour and she always sucks me in to the emotion of the story but I want more of the hero!!  This was better but still not quite enough. I'm greedy I guess!  
I'm not sure the "happily-ever-after chair" added much to the story, for my money.  It was kind of important at the beginning but that part of the story fizzled a bit at the end IMO.
Also, I could easily have taken a bit more of Alejandro (Ian's brother - oh my! *fans self*).

What else? Another plus with this book is that the love scenes didn't entirely stop at the bedroom door this time - it was by no means explicit but I did enjoy the extra.  I'd felt it was lacking in earlier books.  Kind of like icing, you know?
Also (and totally unrelated to the above) the turkey scene was hilarious.  I can totally see this book working as rom/com movie.

Grade:  B+   A really fun contemporary romance.

*you might have noticed that there's a lack of quotes from the book in the review - that's because something squirly happened and all my notes disappeared from my Reader.  I had, like 2 pages to choose from but ... gone.  Frankly, I didn't have time to re-read the book to get quotes for the review.  Sorry.


Nicola O. said...

This one has been on my list. I've read 3 or 4 of Higgins' books and really liked all but one. The outlier was just kind of blah though, not particularly bad or annoying.

Kaetrin said...

I think this one is her best so far - there's more romance, more of the hero and a little more smexxing too!