Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Book Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Title: Until There Was You
Author: Kristan Higgins
Release Date: 25 October 2011
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books
Source: review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Posey Osterhagen can't complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she's surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something's missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking…something like Liam Murphy.

When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he's back, sending Posey's traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas...

My Thoughts: I have discovered Kristan Higgins only in a couple of months ago, but she has instantly become a favourite author of mine thanks to her heartfelt, simultaneously funny and emotional stories, so I was counting back the days to the release of Until There Was You.

Kristan Higgins is back with what she is known and praised for: writing original and quirky but oh so human characters who touch the readers’ heart and make them laugh and cry, most of the times even at the same time.

Until There Was You is Posey and Liam’s story. Posey (who is actually named Cordelia) is a dainty slip of a young woman: she is the epitome of the nice girl, you can’t but smile and want to protect her. Posey had a major crush on Liam the town’s tall dark and handsome bad boy when she was sixteen and now that he is back in town despite the major heartbreak he unknowingly caused her back in high school, she can’t really stop her feelings for taking her back on the road to crush-dom.
Liam Murphy, back in town. To stay. On the one hand, she had to admit that it was thrilling, in the same way that cliff diving might be thrilling…thrilling and often fatal.

Liam is simply put THE dream. He is a reformed bad boy with the mandatory motorbike and leather jacket, but ever since he got his girlfriend pregnant at twenty-one he became responsible, reliable and loyal to the end. It was incredibly moving to see how after such a rebellious youth he became so responsible at such a young age, rejoicing and embracing fatherhood at only twenty-one. Since then he became the ultimate girly dad: he lives and breathes for his daughter Nicole, especially that his wife died two and a half years ago of cancer leaving him in sole charge of her.

Liam was aloof and dripping with disdain in the first half of the novel whenever he interacted with Posey, which reminded me so much of Mr. Darcy and his initial treatment of Elizabeth.

There was so many things I loved about Until There Was You that you need to take a seat until I finish enumerating them all: I loved the laugh out loud humour permeating the novel: starting from the hilarious secondary characters:
“So I was out for a run the other day,” Bruce said, “maybe six, seven miles out of town on Cemetery Road, and some future organ donor flew past me on a Harley, must’ve been doing over a hundred miles an hour, no helmet. Well, whoever it was, he’ll be dead soon, and the world will be a little safer. Oops, my wife is giving me the sign. Nice seeing you, son.”

like Stacia, Posey’s hypochondriac and caring mom:
Posey wasn’t allowed to go to the public pool with her friends (“The pool? The pool? That’s where people get kidnapped!”) or was whisked to the ER to rule out concussion (“But she bumped her head, Doctor! She has a lump! You think it might be a tumor?”)

Henry, Posey’s amputation specialist and completely nuts brother:
“What does he do for a living?” Henry asked.
“Motorcycle mechanic. Custom bikes, repairs, all that manly stuff we know nothing about,” Jon answered.
“Motorcycles are good for my business,” Henry said. “I did the coolest amputation on a Hell’s Angel last week, did I tell you, Pose?”

Liam’s pathological protectiveness of his daughter:
“Daddy, this is Tanner Talcott.” Nicole moved a little closer to the boy, who stuck out his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Murphy. Nicole’s told me a lot about you.”
Liam stared at the hand for a long, withering moment, then looked back at the boy. “Let’s get this straight, pal,” he said in a dangerous voice. “I know what you’re like. I know what you’re thinking. I know you, kid. I was you. I know what you have in your pants, and it’s gonna stay there.”
“Dad, chill!” Nicole’s face was fiery red. “OMG, Tanner, see? I told you.”
Liam ignored his daughter. “You can hold her hand. Maybe, after a year or so, a kiss on the cheek. Are we clear?” Wow. This was more fun than Posey had expected. She bit her lip to keep from smiling. The two teenagers stared at Liam, then looked at each other. “See?” Nicole said. “Psychotic.” “That’s right, honey,” Liam said, putting his arm around her. “She’s my only child, Tanner Talcott. My princess. My angel. Got it?”

and Nicole was a riot too in her dramaqueen teenager way:
“Want some supper? I saved your plate.”
She rolled her eyes with all the melodrama a teenager can muster. “Fine. I may as well become a fat pig since I can’t ever go on a date.”
“That’s my girl,” he said and grinning, got up to heat up her dinner.

Jon was an adorable character and Gretchen was unforgettable in her obnoxious way. I loved the atmosphere of Guten Tag, would definitely love to stop by for a strudel and some yodeling ;-p

The writing in Until There Was You was witty and funny (“Posey had her hair done at Curl Up and Dye, the best salon in town”)
…[Vivian] was feeling less than beautiful.
“Knock ’em dead,” Posey said, kissing Vivian’s soft and withered cheek.
“We’re all over ninety,” Vivian said. “There’s a high probability of death on any night.”
and had the same emotional depth I came to associate with Kristan Higgins' stories.

I loved everything about Until There Was You except for one of the main ingredients: the romatic storyline. The love story between Liam and Posey didn’t really develop during the novel, their relationship was mostly based on Posey’s teenager crush (blushing, stuttering, blinking with hearts in her eyes at him), and even after the HEA resolution of the novel I’m still not sold completely that Liam loves Posey as she deserves it. Why? Because it was heartbreaking reading how much he still loved his deceased wife, that even though more than two and a half years have passed since her death she is still so very present in his thoughts and emotions. It didn’t feel as if he was over losing her, I didn’t feel as if he were giving himself over completely to Posey.

Verdict: I’m a big and passionate fan of Kristan Higgins’ stories, so my expectations for Until There Was You might have been a bit higher than for a novel written by another author. I just wanted to let you know that my exuberant love and affection for All I Ever Wanted made me more critical and raised my expectations. Posey was a lovable heroine and one couldn't not fall in love with Liam the perfect overprotective dad, but I didn't feel them falling in love with each other. Until There Was You was a nice heart-warming story, it's just that the romance part fell a bit short for me.

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 9/10 - beautiful cover once again, but I just picture Liam differently: tall, dark, and more buff. But love the fresh colours, makes me think of lying in the grass on a sunny summer day.


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