Sisterhood in all its drama, hilarity and tears is at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins’s thoroughly captivating new novel, featuring the wit and romance that readers have come to expect from the much-loved creator of the Blue Heron series…
Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she’s still involved in her ex-husband’s life. In fact, Owen’s new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn’t helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll be able to bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.
Her timing couldn’t be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren’t in Rachel’s nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ “perfect” marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship—and reveal a secret about their family she’s been keeping since childhood.
During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.
This was a bit different from Kristan’s usual–the alternating voices of two heroines (on audio, done by two different narrators, a touch I definitely appreciated), the dog belonging to one heroine’s landlord instead of her, more of a focus on the heroines’ lives and less on romance…but I ended up really liking it. Normally this would be a given, since Kristan Higgins did write it, after all, but at times I wasn’t entirely sold on the story. For one, I wasn’t 100% sure that there would be a happy ending in there somewhere, since this felt far more like “women’s fiction” and less like “romance” (I’m still not sure which label it gets, or if we even really need to label it at all), and I’m a firm believer that the books I read need to end happily.
(Rest assured, there is a VERY happy ending in here. It gave me the warm tingles. And annoyed my daughter since she was trying to drive and I was cooing happily over my book in the next seat. Whatever, #2. I’ve been having to drive for years while you get to read blissfully in the next seat. We’re due.)
Second, Jenny was at times too firmly entrenched in the state of denial for even me to identify with–and I’ve long been known as the Queen of Denial. Fortunately, part of her journey was reining that tendency in (a bit)–but still, whoa. I thought my imagination was overactive… 😉 Also, her attachment to her ex- and his new wife (and baby, very soon into the book) was just over-the-top crazytown. It took her a little bit too long to figure that out, especially when she figured everything else out for everyone else so quickly…
I did love Jenny’s job, though. Reading about the dresses she created (especially Kimber’s!) made me want to go out and hunt down a prospective spouse just so she could make me one. You know–if she were real and not a fictional character, that is.
(Details. Whatever. Note the Q of D comment above.)
So…I ended up really liking the book, especially how it ended. It still has Kristan’s trademark quirky humor, though it’s a bit heavier and somewhat darker than her books tend to be. Being used to the more lighthearted feel of her books, this took a while to adjust to. Rachel’s story especially had me torn, as cheating spouses are one of my triggers, but I did like how that part of the story ended up even though we leave Rachel not entirely sure where she’s going to be going from there and knowing her journey will definitely not be easy. Their mother went rather quickly from a caricature it was easy to dismiss to a person to like and respect (that part kind of had my head spinning–it was like, where the heck did this woman suddenly come from?) toward the end, but I was glad she did, because the girls are going to need her support going forward.
And Leo. Totally sigh-worthy Leo. (Clutching chest in a moment of silence.) So. Worthy. 100% love.
If You Only Knew is a standalone, so you don’t have to have read any other KH books to fully enjoy it. (But geesh, if you haven’t, what the heck are you waiting for???)
And now, for the love of all that’s holy, can we please get to Connor’s book? 🙂
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. And then I went and pre-ordered the audiobook too. And bought an e-version. Because I’m crazy like that. And hello, it’s Kristan Higgins.