Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

  
I read so much Kristan Higgins that I thought this novel would be just like her Blue Heron romances. I was wrong. Though Kristan’s signature wit is ever-present, If You Only Knew is a more serious take on relationships, both romantic and familial.  

Jenny Tate’s fickle husband divorced her and remarries… yet wants Jenny to remain his best friend. Jenny’s sister Rachel gives marriage and motherhood her all, only to find out her husband thinks she’s boring. Jenny and Rachel’s mom is no help at all, using passive aggressiveness to ensure she’s always the center of sympathy. 

I love how Jenny and Rachel navigate their romantic relationships with each other’s love and support. Higgins shows that sometimes our love induces good intentions… that the receiver doesn’t really want. For example, when Rachel needs a shoulder to cry on, she doesn’t want Jenny to judge her husband, but Jenny doesn’t know any other way to defend her sister! Higgins wrote it so real that I could believe I was with my own sister, navigating our own real life issues. 🙂

Higgins’s characters develop realistically, also. They come to emotional crossroads that push them to change gradually. Jenny’s downstairs neighbor wasn’t ready for a relationship at first because he was, frankly, depressed. Higgins gives Leo plenty of turning points and opportunities for change before illustrating his healing. 

Lest you think this is a melodrama, let me tell you there are plenty of laughs. Jenny’s dress-shop right-hand man is sarcastic and cynical and hilarious. One bride’s Momzilla gives everyone a run for their money, and Higgin’s description of her expressions is AWESOME. 

If You Only Knew has lust, laughter, and lunacy, but it also takes a peek at the serious side of love. It isn’t the Kristan Higgins that I expected; it’s even more. 

-calliope

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Review: Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

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I fell in love with Fool’s Gold a while back, and the Score crew was a big reason why. Until We Touch focuses big time on Score – especially on cutie Larissa. She will do anything for an animal or a person in need… And Score partner Jack McGarry will always come running to help.

I’m not a huge animal person, but Larissa is, and her compulsion to rescue animals totally worked. If you love fur babies, you’ll sympathize and have some tender I-heart-animal moments. And if you don’t, you’ll just appreciate Larissa’s generous heart — like I did. In this book, Larissa helps plenty of animals, but she also makes a big difference in the life of a young adult… And reels in Jack for assistance.

So. The love story. It’s a slow build-up, then some good fireworks, then some bad fireworks. The awesome thing about loving someone is that it’s about the actions, not the feelings. Larissa and Jack already act like they love each other! It’s only when the words and feelings are brought to the surface that trouble arises.

I liked that Larissa was a little naive here. It fits her personality and brought me back to “stupid things I did while in my 20s” – hah! And I liked that Jack was wonderful except for the time he was a completely big jerk and I could’ve just pushed him with two open palms and said WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!

The best part about a perfect hero who makes a gigantic stupid mistake is watching him make up for it. The apologies were worth the anguish, they really were.

As for the updates on other characters: Taryn’s wedding planning was enjoyable, and I liked the fun closure to Sam’s love life. Mayor Marsha brought upheaval and some new guests to town… and the local businesses were thriving. Read it. You’ll see – and love it – for yourself.

By the way, I read Until We Touch on the beach. My daughter looked at me from the edge of the ocean, rolled her eyes, and said, “There’s mom, crying again over a book.”

Yup. You betchya. Tears of sadness, tears of joy. That’s a successful read.

-Calliope

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Review: Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

20140419-225500.jpg The latest Fool’s Gold romance has girl next door Dellina trying not to fall in love with strong, silent, private Sam. Their romance starts off slow, heats up, cools down, and ends with a public announcement no one expects. I loved it!

I also liked this book for the camaraderie of Taryn and the football guys she works with, and the consistent support the women provide to each other. There’s something to be said for knowing there’s always someone to rely on, just a block or two away.

Before We Kiss has a lot of, um, instructions for intimacy. Graphic ones. Ones that will make you uncomfortable, and not always in a bad way. 😉 Sometimes Sam’s mother tells someone something no one wants to hear, and other times her candid sex conversations are quite educational. Be prepared!

If you’re an animal lover, this is the Susan Mallery book for you. A major subplot involves Larissa and her compulsion to help animals. By the end of the book, at least two main characters become grateful pet owners. Meow. Woof. 🙂

This was yummy icing on the cake of a week’s worth of reading Susan Mallery. In a few months I’ll be reviewing more, as I have a permanent place in my heart for Fool’s Gold, its caring women, and its smokin’ hot…. I mean LOVING… men.

–Calliope

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Review: When We Met by Susan Mallery

20140419-100232.jpg What a tug of war! Taryn and Angel are both tough cookies… Taryn in the boardroom and Angel in the gym. And they’re each nursing heartbreaks, though of different natures. When they meet, they use each other for a challenge, a thrill, and a distraction from reality.

The novelty of a new romance is so exciting, and Mallery conveyed the roller coaster of emotions just perfectly. From the witty banter to the teasing looks to the mysterious notes, Mallery created a romance that kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the one-liners, the fashion-designer name drops, and the description of the men Taryn works and plays with. (Go read for yourself; I can’t do it justice!)

Yes, this is another Fool’s Gold romance, but WHAT A ROMANCE! The uncertainty, the tension, the climax… Well, you get the idea. 🙂

–Calliope

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Review: A Fool’s Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery

20140419-094524.jpg I’m late reviewing a bunch of Christmas-themed romances, and I have to say I’m enjoying myself.

The Christmas spirit manifests in many ways. For Evie and Dante, newcomers to Fool’s Gold, they just want to get through the holiday emotionally unscathed. They lean on each other through Dante’s bad memories and Evie’s Christmas dance recital responsibilities. And then they lean on each other for love.

This is a typical Fool’s Gold romance in that it’s focused on the hero and heroine, there’s a wonderful sense of community, and love seems to thrive at the seasonal festivals.

But Evie and Dante’s story is original and emotional. I keep reading Susan Mallery because she knows how to make each relationship unique and compelling.

As soon as I was done with this novel, I moved on to When We Met, to be released April 29. Thank you, Ms. Mallery for providing such an authentic glimpse of fictional romances. ❤

–Calliope

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Review: If You Were Mine (The Sullivans #5) by Bella Andre

20140326-230926.jpg Heather and Zach pulled me right in to their anti-love story. For two people who don’t believe in love, and certainly don’t believe in forever, these two sure fall hard and fast for each other.

No amount of denial can stop the chemistry Heather and Zach have, but at every turn they try to keep things superficial. They get together because the dogs miss each other. Or they need good sex. Or they want to help a good cause. It’s never because they’re in L.O.V.E. Nooooooooo. Not the L word. Even when they meet each other’s families, Zach and Heather pretend they’re just friends.

It’s this push and pull that makes If You Were Mine so enticing. Zach and Heather have eyes for only each other, but they still try to create distance whenever they can. I loved the tension, loved the longer than usual bedroom scenes (not any more graphic than expected, but drawn out and well-written), and loved when Heather and Zach were finally honest with each other.

If You Were Mine is my flavor of the week. Try it. Taste for yourself.

Yum.

-Calliope

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Review: Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre

20140325-221756.jpg This 10th installment of The Sullivans is a look back into the history of Mary and Jack Sullivan, the parents of the Sullivans who star in the other books in the series.

Bella Andre takes us on a charming, sweet trip down memory lane. A box of Christmas ornaments is the catalyst for Mary to recall milestones in her life. Then she gets lost in thoughts of her romance with her husband so many years ago.

I breezed through this book, enjoying Mary’s strong will and gentle spirit, and Jack’s patience and persistence. Mary and Jack’s story is original and well-thought-out. There were chaste kisses, steamy scenes, arguments, giddiness, fun dates, a proposal, and all the trimmings of a good romance.

Now that I’ve read their history, I’m totally ready for the next present-day Sullivan romances! Soon I will review If You Were Mine (book 5, Zach Sullivan), published in 2012; and Always on My Mind (book 11, Lori Sullivan), to be published this April.

–Calliope

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