Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book Review: My One and Only by Kristan Higgins

My One and Only (Hqn)Title: My One and Only
Author: Kristan Higgins
Release Date: 29 March 2011
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books
Source: review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon,

Kindle store, Book Depository

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer:

Divorce attorney Harper James can't catch a break. Bad enough that she runs into her ex-hubby, Nick, at her sister's destination wedding, but now, by a cruel twist of fate, she's being forced to make a cross-country road trip with him. And her almost-fiancé back at home is not likely to be sympathetic. Harper can't help that Nick has come blazing back into her life in all of his frustratingly appealing, gorgeous architect glory. But in Nick's eyes, Harper's always been the one. If they can only get it right this time, forever might be waiting -- just around the bend.

My thoughts: At first I was strongly against reading My One and Only simply because its heroine is a divorcee and I thought that meant this novel was for the older generation (I know, had some stupid prejudices...). But thankfully Caro convinced me that not only was Harper only 34, but that My One and Only was a wonderful heartfelt romance I absolutely HAD to read, so I gave in and I'm so thankful I did, because My One and Only is wonderful.

Harper the heroine is quite jaded (though she has also been described as cynical and "emotionally autistic"): her mother, who was more like a best friend to her than a caring mother abandoned her without reason on the day after 13th birthday. No wonder she is hurt and doesn't trust easily (*cough* understatement of the year *cough*).

She met Nick when she was 21
“It’s Nick.”
“Nick who?” I asked, blushing for perhaps the first time in my life.
“The father of your children.”
“Right, right.” I paused, unable to suppress a smile.
“Do I at least get dinner before I have to start breeding?”
and though she tried to resist the wihirlwind that was Nick and his love
But when a man comes up to you in a bar and tells you you’re the woman he’ll marry, it’s a little…overwhelming.

“What are you looking at, idiot?” I asked, giving him the sneer that had served me so well.
“My future wife. The mother of my children.”
she couldn't, so she tried going with the flow, but that didn't work out either. At 23 she was freshly divorced with a broken heart and even less faith in people, love and the world than before her marriage. Now at 34 she is about to propose to her boyfriend of two years, when her little sister Willa tells her she is getting married (for the 3rd time) to none other than Nick's brother!

Harper and Nick meet at the wedding, where Harper is on a mission to make her little sister see reason and avoid the heartbreak of a 3rd divorce. Of course sparks fly and explosion ensues when these two are in the same room.

“Well, you know, Harper, maybe we should just stay here and bicker until the bear can’t stand it anymore and kills us both. Would that make you happy?”

“Seriously, Nick? You do realize that not taking the interstate will add hours and hours to our lovely sojourn together, don’t you?”
“Yes, Harper. I’m aware. But this is my trip. You’re merely baggage, emotionally and cargowise.”
“Ha, ha.”

I have to say my favourite character of the novel was Nick, hands down. He was a warm-hearted, genuine and generous, loyal guy, with a wicked sense of humour. This is the scene where he (the ex-husband) meets Dennis (Harper's current boyfriend) for the first time:

“Same here.” They shook hands.
“Are you going to the wedding, too?” Dennis asked.
“Yes, I am.” Nick raised an eyebrow at me.
“Cool,” Dennis said. “So how do you guys know each other?”
“Biblically,” Nick answered.
“Nick’s my ex-husband, Dennis,” I said a bit sharply.

Nick is intense in everything he does: he is passionate about architecture, creating buildings (loved how Kristan conveyed this wonderfully all through the novel, there was especially one memorable scene when Nick and Harper are in a diner and Nick builds a house from a hamburger bun and some French fries!!), family and Harper. He is a man with a huge heart and that is why the failure of their marriage and the devastation of losing Harper, the love of his life is extremely hard for him.

“You asked why I couldn’t forgive you,” Nick said, very quietly, and I jumped a little. “It was because you were the love of my life, Harper. And you didn’t want to be. That’s hard to let go.”

Kristan Higgins takes us on a breathtaking emotional rollercoaster again: one moment you will feel your heart squeezed and won't be able to swallow that lump, the next you'll be chuckling:

“You’re the love of my life. I’ve loved you since the day we met, I never stopped, I can’t help myself, you’re like crystal meth or something, though that’s probably not the most flattering comparison, but there it is, I love you, Harper. Even if you are a pain in the—”

“’Do or do not. There is no try,’” she intoned.
“Who said that? Winston Churchill?”
“Yoda. Please. I have four sons. Star Wars is my life.”
“So now the Muppets are giving me advice?”
“Count your blessings. It could be TeleTubbies.”

Since it's a Kristan Higgins novel you know there has to be a cute four-legged main character who gets just as much "screen time" as the H/H, and you won't be disappointed: 

A Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, Coco was somewhat schizophrenic, alternating as it served her purposes between the two sides of her parentage—exuberant, affectionate Jack or timid, vulnerable Chihuahua.
Have I already said how much I love these mental schrizophenias Kristan's characters have? I just love this duplicity in their characters it provides plenty of entertaining moments. :-)

Coco is adorable and charming:

“Relax. Coco’s not nervous, is she?” I glanced at my dog. She sat on Nick’s lap, bunny in her mouth, staring at Nick, trying to hypnotize him into worshipping her for the rest of his life. Bad enough that my father, BeverLee and Willa all adored Nick. Now my dog had fallen, too.

Coco began sniffing the corners for werewolves, then, satisfied there were none, jumped into the middle of the bed.

Kristan Higgins provides us again with quite a handful of quirky supporting characters:

- there is Dennis the hunk firefighter who Harper has been dating for 2 years. Unfortunately not only didn't I click with him, but Dennis downright irritated me. He wasn't nice and kind but rather dull and appeared stupid to me (I seriously doubted how Harper an intelligent woman, a lawyer nonetheless could tolerate not having any meaningful contribution from him in a conversation). He appeared to have the IQ of a golden retriever, and he kept flirting with women even when Harper was right there! Sorry that doesn't scream "good husband material" to me.

Also there is no romance whatsoever in Harper's relationship with Dennis: she decides it's time for them to marry because he fits the mental list she prepared of required husband qualities and because they have been together for two years. She proposes to him with this famous speech:

“This isn’t high school. We’re not kids. We’ve been together for the past two and a half years. I’m thirty-four next month. I don’t want to hang out indefinitely. If we’re not going to get married, we need to break up. So…shit or get off the pot, honey.”

- then there is BeverLee, Harper's stepmother, who is more like a caricature than a real person:

[...] bouffanted, butter-yellow hair sprayed five inches off her scalp (“The bigger the hair, the closer to God,” she often said)
She was a meddling, kind but gossipy, not too bright, trashily dressed woman. Until  the problems arose between Harper's dad and her I found her irritating and don't know if her transformation of becoming a more likable character was due to me seeing her in a more favourable light or because she actually toned down the chirpiness. After trouble arose in paradise she became a nice addition to the palette of characters.

- Harper's dad acting like a mute also grated on my nerves! I get that some people especially men are not that chatty and it's not easy for them to express their feelings, but I didn't find it funny the way he wouldn't even say hi but just nodded to his daughter, it made me want to smack his head! His daughter was there all alone, hurting and needing some love, and he wasn't there for her.

One of the highlights of this novel was again the wonderful atmospheric descriptions Kristan Higgins gave us of the setting, giving us a virtual tour of Harper's Martha's Vineyard. Though I’ve never been there, I could easily picture the intimate setting of the small towns there thanks to all the details regarding the lights, colours and scents interwoven in Harper’s impression of the town and her home.

I try to think why this novel fell a bit short for me despite the wonderful romance between Harper and Nick, the chuckle out loud humour, the adorable Coco and the beautifully described and funny road trip setting, and I think it's because I found most of the supporting characters irritating.

Verdict: My One and Only was the 2nd novel from Kristan Higgins I read and since I loved All I Ever Wanted so much and I've read the two books very close to each other, hard as I may try, I can't not compare them. Unfortunately My One and Only ends up as the runner up, but it is a wonderful romance novel in its own right, it's just that my expectations were incredibly high after All I Ever Wanted.

With My One and Only Kristan HIggins delivers again a wonderful, heartbreaking, emotional yet humourous romance that will keep you very agreeably busy for some hours.

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Cover: 10/10

Buy it:

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