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.