Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Disclaimer: I've received Until There Was You as an eARC from Netgalley

Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins
published by HQN Books (Harlequin) in October 2011
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...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: none

The Story: While the blurb is accurate, it left out some important details. So hopefully, my summary will fill in some blanks :)

Posey Osterhagen's first love was Bellsford's bad boy Liam Murphy; unfortunately, he had eyes only for nice girl Emma Tate. Unbeknownst to him though, Liam broke Posey's heart during prom when he made a very hurtful comment.

Years have gone by and Posey has put it all behind her. At least, that's what she thinks until Liam, who is now a widower, is moving back to Bellsford so his teenage daughter, Nicole, can be closer to her maternal grandparents. For some reasons, the two of them keep running into each other... and soon, Posey finds herself falling for him once again. However, things are complicated as a potential client is dangling an important salvaging contract at Posey and Posey's very demanding cousin, who always made Posey feel inadequate, is coming to town for an extended visit. In all this chaos, Posey must deal with her feelings for Liam, try not to get hurt as last time and not forget that Liam's priority is his daughter.

My Opinion: Before reading Until There Was You, I was a bit wary of the book. First, I was afraid that I was a bit burn-out on Ms Higgins' books because she has a very unique style and when you read many of her books, her heroines and the storylines start to blend together ^_^; Second there was the switch from first to third POV and finally, the so-so reviews that have been popping up on blogland. Perhaps it's because I came in with low expectations, but I ended up enjoying Until There Was You quite a bit :)

Until There Was You is a pretty typical Kristan Higgins book in the sense that readers get a fun and successful heroine with a quirky family, quirky friends and a big dog who is looking for love. While it sounds familiar, Ms Higgins keeps it fresh by varying the details and does a really good job :) The best part of Until There Was You though was the characterization of Posey and Liam. Ms Higgins did a great job at developing and fleshing the H/H so we had complex and flawed characters :) Posey was very likable. I loved that she was happy with her life: loved her job, had great relationships with her family and was surrounded by good friends. I think there's a bit too many down-on-their-luck heroines, heroines that must do something big in order to save their job, heroines that want to prove themselves at the cost of love and/or heroines that are desperate for marriage and children. It is nice to have happy heroines and there definitively should be more of them in romance. While Posey is happy, it does not mean she's not vulnerable. I thought the issues Posey had were different and refreshing - her weight, the evil cousin, etc. It showed different sides of Posey, made her more sympathetic and real. In contrast, Liam was not as likable as Posey, but he was as well developed. I liked that he really loved Emma, but he wasn't blind to the problems in their marriage. I liked that he did not idealize or revile his wife. He was very realistic about it and I thought that was refreshing. I also liked that he was honest - that's always a great quality in an hero. He was also a great father, perhaps a bit over-protective, but it made sense given the circumstances.

The romance was an interesting one. I thought it was a bit uneven as in the beginning, Posey seems to have the impression that Liam does not like her and Liam seems to be a bit freaked out by Posey's stalker-ish manners when they were younger... And Ms Higgins never goes back to these feelings, to work them out or explain them. Instead, she moves forward. I liked that the relationship took time to establish between the two of them as they are different persons. I never had the feeling that Posey fell in love with the "young" Liam or her idealized version of Liam. Also, I loved that Liam realized that he was happy with Posey and what a mistake he did and that nobody around him really nudged him. I wouldn't say the romance in Until There Was You is very romantic, not a lot of "ahhhh" and "ohhhh" - although there is a grand gesture at the end - but everything was resolved in a satisfying manners and I liked it :)

Other things that I enjoyed in this book was Posey's interactions with her family and friends. I loved seeing her hanging out with her best friends (one of them her brother-in-law, Jon). I do wish that we've seen more of her relationship with her brother, Henry. Also, Henry and Jon were a great couple and every time they appear, the mood of the book lightened up :)  I enjoyed the light-hearted scenes: the baseball matches, the prom, the cooking for singles LOL. Ms Higgins really has a talent for blending funny situations with more serious matters and she proves it once again in Until There Was You. There was a lot going on in this book, but in the end, Ms Higgins juggled with everything and Until There Was You turned out to be a well-balanced book.

One of the thing I was most happy about was getting Liam's POV. This book would have never worked otherwise. I think Ms Higgins did a great job at handling the switch from first to third POV. I always felt in the past that her books were more chick-lit because of the first POV and have wished several time that she'd do the switch so it'd be more contemporary romance... and it was :) I hope she will continue in that direction with her future books!

My Grade: B.