Kristan Higgins is one of my OG romance authors. When I consciously decided to read mostly romance for the rest of my life (because my real life sucked enough at the time that I felt ZERO need to read books that might leave me sad or uncertain at the end–I required guaranteed HEAs in some aspect of my life, please) I found a used copy of one of her books–at the used book sale at the library I now am in charge of, maybe?–and proceeded to binge read her entire backlist ASAP. She became a go-to author, and when I started blogging and got automatic approval for Harlequin books on Netgalley, which meant access to her ARCs? It was a time of great celebration in the Moe household. (Mini Moe #2 was also reading her books by then, so it truly wasn’t just me ;))
Long story short–when I saw the prompt for this month was “comfort read” I immediately thought of the latest Kristan Higgins book which I’d had an audio copy of since last June AND an eARC of since…I don’t even know. About thirty seconds after it came out, probably? I know, I know, I should have read it long before, but in my defense 1) 2020 was a dumpster fire and my reading went all to heck because of it and 2) though I do still love KH, I kind of love her contemporary romance books just a teensy bit more than the “women’s fiction” titles she’s been coming out with lately so I tend to put off reading her newer titles longer than I would have in the past–even though I almost always really like them.
I have to say “almost always” there, because…I didn’t love this one.
I didn’t dislike it, exactly–but I didn’t love the characters like I usually do. Honestly, for about 90% of the book, I actively disliked one of them (Barb), and with 20 minutes of listening time left, I was about ready to throw another one off a cliff (Sadie). Juliet was just okay–she just wasn’t my kind of people, really–and then there was John.
I wasn’t really prepared for John’s chapters.
I may have mentioned a time or twenty that I have a tendency not to read the blurbs for books from authors I already know and love, yes? It’s just getting worse as I get older, truly. Apparently I really will never learn. Anyway, that was the case here. I had no idea that John was going to have a stroke in the beginning of the book, or that his chapters (there are only a few) would be written from a post-stroke viewpoint. I think Ms Higgins did a decent job with those chapters–she definitely made John a more sympathetic character to me through them than he would have been otherwise (content warning: he was having an extramarital affair, which is one of my least favorite things, IRL or in books)–but that whole story line brought up my dad’s last few weeks of life, which were also spent in a post-stroke state. He wasn’t anywhere as…advanced, I guess? as John–he never did recognize any of us ever again, and didn’t make it any closer to coming home than a nursing home for an ill-fated week or so–but still, it brought up feelings I wasn’t expecting. So there was that.
So…not quite the “comfort read” I was hoping for, but Ms Higgins did manage to come through with a HEA for 75% of her characters (100% if you want to go with the old “went on to a happier place” axiom), and just barely managed to make me like them all more by the book’s end. A comfort-ish read, then?
Still–I am totally counting this for my January #TBRChallenge! 1/12 accomplished!
(My Goodreads review is here, if you’re interested–it’s not nearly as long winded!–I gave it 3 1/2 stars and a C+, which is truly shocking for me to give a Kristan Higgins novel)