Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

Ouf, I finally managed to write this review! :) Somebody to Love was a book I definitively wanted to review, but it turned out to be more complex and complicated to put my thoughts together than I expected :) It's interesting how the reviewing process really makes you think and question stuff... And how sometimes, you feel a certain way before the review and another, once it's completed. In any case, I hope you enjoy this review!

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
published by HQN Books (Harlequin) in April 2012
After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father's wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she's not thrilled -- …even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox. Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist's assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn't the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn't the only thing that needs a little TLC….
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Connected to Catch of the Day and The Next Best Thing

The Story: Okay, I haven't been very inspired lately to write synopsis ^_^; So bear with me.

Parker Welles is a single mother and the author of the Holly Rollers, a band of wanna-be angels on skates that started off as a sarcastic comment and became a popular series with children. As she grew up in a wealthy family with a sizable trust fund for herself and her 5 years old son Nicky, Parker has donated all the proceeds to Save the Children. When she finds out that her father has used her and her son's trust fund to cover the losses in an insider-trading scheme, that he's going to jail and that she's basically broke, it becomes imperative for Parker to come up with a new idea for a new series. In the meantime, she plans to go to Gideon's Cove where she inherited a summer house 5 years ago, flip it around and sell it. Except, the summer house is not exactly what she expected and the condition... Luckily for her, her father's attorney - James Cahill aka Thing One - shows up to give her a hand, because he feels responsible for her situation. The two of them have 3 weeks till Nicky's arrival to make the house livable.

James has always had a thing for Parker... and before leaving for Gideon's Cove, Lucy's advice for Parker was a summer fling. Living in such close proximity, perhaps the time is finally right for them to get to know each other better.

My Opinion: My first book by Ms Higgins was her debut novel, Fools Rush In. I ended up being pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. Ever since then, I have not looked back, faithfully picking up each new release :) Even when I felt her books were a bit too chick-litty... I like Ms Higgins books because they are fun and breezy to read and she usually has interesting characters :) Not that all of her books worked for me, but I've enjoyed the majority of them and that's what you want from an author right? The fact that she switched to 3rd POV with her last book, Until There Was You, was simply a bonus. So when Somebody to Love showed up in store, there was no doubt I'd be picking it up :)

My first impression of Somebody to Love was that it was an enjoyable read :) There was something about the story and the characters that compelled me to breeze through the book and as a whole, I liked it. However, once I was done and reflected on what I've just read, a few questions and issues popped up.

I'm going to start with the positive aspects of this book :) First, I enjoyed the setting - Gideon's Cove - it was very tranquil and serene. I think it was really the perfect place for Parker to recoup, reassess her life and future. I also liked the secondary characters from Gideon's Cove. They added some colors to the landscape and are good for Parker. For some reason, now that I think about it, it seems like Parker is lonely. Except for Ethan and Lucy, she didn't seem to have friends or someone close enough to confide in. So I think it was good for Parker to meet new people, people that she didn't know when she was rich, so no expectations. Also, I have to say, I liked that we got to re-visit some characters - without them taking over the storyline of course. It's funny because both Catch of the Day and The Next Best Thing weren't my favorite books at all, but to see Maggie, Malone, Ethan and Lucy again, well it was nice.

What really made the book for me though was the hero, James Cahill :) He was just a great guy, a great hero. Oh he wasn't without fault; I mean the way he dealt with the girl he's been occasionally hooking up, as an afterthought, wasn't exemplary ^_^; But it wasn't bad enough to condemn him either... and in the grand scheme of things, it showed us that James was just a guy ^_^; However, as we got to know James better and his background story, my heart just hurt for him and I couldn't help but tear up. I can't imagine going through what James did and live with the burden he has on his shoulders. To never be able to forget and be forgiven... it definitively shaped him, influenced him in his career path. To live with such guilt, you have to be very strong and as a result, I really admire James. I admire him because he did not shy away from the responsibilities. Instead, he endorsed them and did his best... And what really made me sad was the fact that people didn't seem to understand that he suffered. It's not because he came out of the tragedy physically unscathed that he wasn't affected, that he didn't suffer. In that sense, I felt that his family definitively has let him down... Therefore, I hope whoever James would fall in love with would be there to give him the support that he never got... Unfortunately, I don't think Parker is that person ^_^; And that's the crux of my issues with Somebody to Love.

Sigh, when it comes to Parker, I don't know exactly how I feel ^_^; I thought she was a great mother and I really admire her for not marrying Ethan because she was pregnant while knowing he loved someone else. I liked that she didn't settle for less than she deserved when it came to love. That was very brave of her. I also liked that she wasn't bitter about the whole situation with Ethan and Lucy - before and after they got together - and they all had good relationships together, being best friends and all. And while Parker grew up with money and never had to worry about it, she didn't have a spoiled attitude at all. LOL, so sometimes, her reality was a bit skewed and the rich side showed, but most of the time, I felt she was down-to-earth with the right priorities :) My problem with Parker though stems from her behavior/attitude. I can't exactly say she was wrong though. For example her relationship with her father. Parker caught her father cheating with the babysitter and when she told her mother, her father tried to say that Parker didn't see what she saw, that she misunderstood. Ever since, there's been a rift between father and daughter. However, Parker wants a relationship with her father, the father of her childhood... and therefore she is jealous of James and kind of take it out on him. The problem is that Parker's father has no idea what Parker is thinking... He thinks she hates his guts that everything she does is to show him up ^_^; Obviously, Parker's father was at fault... but there's two persons in a relationship. Parker can't just wait forever for him to make the first steps, especially if she wants their relationship to get better... but she kept waiting, blaming him instead of handing him an olive branch. Same thing when Parker and James first hooked up a couple of years before Somebody to Love. She didn't trust James, thought he slept with her to kiss up to her father... When he came after her afterwards, she turned him flat down - and really not kindly ^_^; ... and Parker figured if James really wanted her, he would try again. Lady, they cannot read your mind!! Overall, I felt that Parker waited and expected, but she never gave in these relationships :( It didn't made her a bad heroine, but it didn't make her very likable either. Especially when you consider her attitude towards James who was such a great hero. It simply rubbed me the wrong way, sigh.

I also have a question concerning the romance... Why did James like Parker so much? Why did he want her so much? I get that he was infatuated with her, but physical attraction aside, what was that made her "the one"? I don't think it was ever really addressed during Somebody to Love and in that respect, I felt the romance wasn't developed enough. Quite frankly, I think James deserved better. It was annoying to see that James was there for Parker when she needed someone, but instead of appreciating it, she kept trying to find excuses to sabotage their romance. Yes, she's a mother... but she's also a woman. Using Nicky as a shield... well it was cowardly. I wanted her to have the confidence to really acknowledge her feelings for James and I feel it never really happened. That's why I wished Parker was the one who did the "grand gesture" at the end, the one to go after James. Unfortunately, that didn't happen either. I'll concede that she took the first step, but I'm not satisfied with that. I think James really deserved to be swept off his feet, to be shown how important he is in someone's life.

What else? Well I felt the storyline about Parker being penniless and trying to get back on her feet was a bit  thin. I know that Ms Higgins' focus is usually on the romance and the characters and normally, that's the way I want it. But in this case, well, I felt the romance didn't have enough depth... so I wished there's been a bit more to the storyline. I find that not much happened and I guess it's because a lot of the book was about building the characters. By the way, it's good that Parker is such a generous person... but after what she went through, to donate all the money she makes on the books again, isn't that a bit imprudent? Oh and a word of warning, there is a 5 years old boy in this book and he acts like a 5 years old :P So he's sweet at times, but can be very annoying as well ^_^;

I know reading this review, it sounds like I had a lot of issues with Somebody to Love... and I did. However, it doesn't mean I didn't like this book. As I said, there was something compelling about Somebody to Love and I was really engaged. Perhaps it's because I'm familiar with Ms Higgins writing style... or simply because I was invested in the characters. Anyway, at the end of the day, Somebody to Love was still a very nice read and James was still a great hero :)

My Grade: My first instinct was to give Somebody to Love a B-. As I said, I did enjoy the read... But the more I thought about it and after writing this review, I have to go with a C+. I'm still going to pick up Ms Higgins' next release and I hope I won't have to wait too long for it :)