Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Until There Was You
~Kristan Higgins

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: HQN Books 
Publish Date: October 25, 2011
ISBN-10: 037377611X
ISBN-13: 978-0373776115

From the author's website:
Posey Osterhagen can't complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she's surrounded by her loveable, 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...

Cordelia "Posey" Osterhagen is not looking her best when she runs into the former (unrequited) love of her life: She's helping out in her parent's restaurant, sporting a traditional German waitress outfit (which she does not fill out, at all) and a mouth full of potato dumpling when Liam Murphy walks in to their kitchen, looking even better than he did when they were kids. He's just as disdainful of her as she remembers.  She's sorry to hear his wife died; Posey remembers her as a genuinely nice girl. Posey has decided that Liam's decision to back to Bellsford is not going to affect her one bit; there's no reason for her to interact with Liam now that they're adults and their lives have gone in different directions. Although he doesn't know it, Liam broke her heart and she's never forgiven him. Now all she has to do is convince her heart...

Liam Murphy is bringing his 15-year-old daughter Nicole back to the town he feels closest to and is opening a custom motorcycle shop. He moved to Bellsford when he was 15, after some unfortunate youthful choices landed him in juvie for car theft. He met his late wife Emma in Bellsford, so it's as close to home as it gets for him. Plus, Emma's parents live nearby, and although they're not his favorite people, they do love Nicole and deserve to spend time with her. And even though he knows that by moving back as a widower he'll be like a minnow in a shark tank, he's determined to concentrate on raising Nicole and has no plans for anything even resembling dating. But he keeps running into Posey, and suddenly she's not just that skinny kid who crushed on him in high school...

My thoughts: 
I have a checklist that must be complete before I even think about opening a Kristan Higgins book: Favorite comfy chair? check. Pajamas on? check. Giant glass of diet coke? check. Tissues (for laughing and crying)? check. Kids asleep or out of the house (so as not to disturb Mommy while she's reading)? check. Then, and only then, I can settle in and enjoy reading.

Until There Was You is classic Kristan Higgins, but with a twist - we get not only the heroine's POV, but the hero's POV as well. Posey is cute - she's got an interesting career as a salvage artist; she rescues architecturally interesting things from homes and buildings and resells them. It sounds like a dream job (sweaty but fun). She's a people pleaser, especially as it pertains to her family. Example: She's seeing the owner of another restaurant in town and keeps it secret from her parents because it will upset them. Posey is adopted, but has never felt like her parents didn't love her or didn't consider her their own child. She's also petite and has a crazy-fast metabolism - she ate all the time, this book made me so hungry, lol.

Around the same time Liam comes back to town, Posey's cousin Gretchen shows up. Gretchen is a self-obsessed TV cooking show hostess, "The Barefoot Fraulein", who's quietly been fired from the network and comes home to Bellsford to "revamp the family restaurant". Her parents love Gretchen and don't realize that Gretchen and Posey don't get along. When Gretchen sort of moves in with Posey, then starts dating Posey's ex - the restaurateur - things just get more uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Meanwhile, Liam is trying valiantly to navigate the waters of being father to a 15-year-old girl and all her hormones. The scenes between Liam and Nicole are so funny - he was the "bad boy" in high school, so he knows what the boys in Nicole's school have on their mind:

"Look," Liam whispered, and against her will, Posey's entire side tingled.  "She's fifteen years old.  Bozo there's a senior.  Do the math."
 "What Math?" Posey asked.
 "The sex math."
 "You're an idiot," she muttered, shoving another fistful of popcorn into her mouth.
~ebook at 41%

I love that we get Liam's POV. He's a little young to be so curmudgeonly, but we see how the past affected his attitude present-day and the reasons he's so protective of Nicole. The differing POVs from Posey and Liam regarding the incident that broke Posey's heart so many years ago was an eye-opener. I will admit that even seeing Liam's mindset, I was frustrated with the way he treated Posey present-day; she deserved better. If they had just talked to each other, it would have been so much easier for everyone. I wasn't just mad at Liam though, I was mad at Posey for letting him treat her that way.

With a charming cast of secondary characters that enhance the main characters, I found myself falling in love with the town of Bellsford and it's inhabitants. In addition to Posey's parents, who only want Posey to be happy but are completely oblivious to her feelings, we are treated to Posey's (also adopted) brother Henry and his long-term partner, Jon, who is also Posey's best friend. Henry and Jon are great together - Henry is a surgeon and is almost comically obsessed with amputations, Jon is a popular high school teacher and he absolutely loves Posey to death (Big love for Jon from this reader, he's awesome!). There are also some deliciously awful characters who made Posey's life miserable as a teen and continue being horrible right into adulthood.

Until There Was You is both comical and compassionate. There's a movie theater scene that will make you laugh out loud and a prom horror story that will break your heart. Until There Was You touches on several difficult topics: adoption, homosexuality, family, death, and self respect, and gives the reader hope where a different author might make you feel only despair.

Kristan Higgins can put another notch on her bookshelf - Until There Was You is fabulous: I laughed and cried and was ready to pack up the family and move to Bellsford by the time I was done!

My Rating:

Book recieved from the Publisher via NetGalley.


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