Friday, February 12, 2010

Feature Review: "The Next Best Thing," By Kristan Higgins

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

CONTEST!!! One randomly chsn commntr wins a copy of "The Next Best Thing!" Pls have your email addy avlbl in comment or blogger accnt to enter.
“A Family Affair”

If we could chose who we love – and who loves us – life would be a lot simpler, but it’s rarely that convenient. Even though my own romance has no angst, I instinctively understand the agony of loving the one person you just can’t have. Why else would Romeo and Juliet still ring so true?

In Kristan Higgins’ hilarious and heartbreaking “The Next Best Thing,” grieving widow Lucy Lang is content to wallow in memories until her sister’s newborn triggers her biological clock. Longing for a family, Lucy decides to marry without risking her heart. But there’s a complication: Ethan, her friend-with-benefits. He’s out of the running on two counts. #1 – she has dangerous feelings for him. And #2 – he’s her husband’s younger brother.

Ethan Mirabelli is resigned to living in his brother’s shadow. Dead five years, golden boy Jimmy is still first in the hearts of his parents. And Jimmy’s widow refuses to let him go. When lovely Lucy’s maternal instincts are aroused, Ethan hopes he’ll finally get his chance. After all, they’ve been burning up the sheets for two years. When he discovers Lucy’s plans for a loveless marriage, Ethan takes an arrow to his already battered heart. It seems the only way to ensure Lucy’s happiness is to sacrifice his own. Again.

Kristan Higgins excels at hot-and-heartwrenching forbidden romance – her heroines are often modern day Juliets, her heroes strong Romeos who care too much to be ruled by convention. In “The Next Best Thing,” Lucy fights her feelings with everything she’s got, but Ethan is tired of being second best. This is one battle he intends to win. Do yourself a favor --

Buy the Book.

Kristan’s books are auto-buys for me, and every one has a place on my keeper shelf. I have a special fondness for the tortured hero, especially when he is the best friend who kept his feelings hidden.What about you? What is your favorite type of hero – the best friend, the first love, the bad guy on the Harley? Tell me more!
***
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73 comments:

Mary said...

I can't wait to read this book. I loved Too Good to be True last year (the first K. Higgins book I read) and told everyone I know to read it.
I like the tortured hero/best friend. Nothing like falling in love with a guy who really knows you!
meah56 AT gmail DOT com

Becke Davis said...

Mary - this book is wonderful. I've loved Kristan's writing since her first book came out, but she just gets better and better.

This is the first of her books that literally had me laughing out loud in some parts and wiping tears from my eyes in others. I highly recommend it.

Kristan said...

Good morning, Becke! Thanks so much for featuring THE NEXT BEST THING today! I admit it...I love torturing people. Poor Ethan! Poor Lucy! Poor Jimmy! But for me, seriously, that's what made this book so special to me. The choices weren't easy, but the potential pay-off was huge.

So glad you liked it! And thanks, Mary! Glad you liked TOO GOOD. That was a fun one for me.

Scorpio M. said...

I tend to like heroes that are the strong & silent type. Definitely, more Beta as opposed to Alpha. As to how they come into the heroine's life, anything is game...best friend, frenemy, reunited second chance love, it's all good.

I am new to Kristan's work, I know, I live under a rock.

jenma76(at)hotmail(dot)com

Gannon Carr said...

Becke, wonderful review! I've heard nothing but good things about THE NEXT BEST THING. It is on my TBB list!

Tortured heroes are my favorite. *g*

Becke Davis said...

Kristan - your books have enriched my life. I can't thank you enough for writing them.

Becke Davis said...

Scorpio, there are so many great new books coming out every day, it can be easy to miss a great new book or let a wonderful new author slip under your radar. I'm so glad to introduce you to Kristan's books!

Gannon - you will love this book!

debbie haupt said...

Hi Becke, good morning Bellas and Hi Kristan.
Like Becke you are always a have to buy right now and after it's read put on the keeper shelf author for me.
I love all the characters in your novels and how you incorporate the pets into the story. And again like Becke I love the tortured soul.
My very favorite kind of hero/heroine are the ones who rediscover their feelings for each other, either after a long separation or just reigniting their love while still being married.
Thanks Becke for the great review and I can't wait to read it.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! Hey, Becke, thanks so much for writing this feature about TNBT. I know how much this book moved you, and how you wanted to do it justice. It's magnificent for so many reasons, and you've distilled the dilemmas and heartaches of this piece, yet clarified that a change takes place early on which forces Lucy and the book onto a fast and humorous course. Though as you say, it's definitely heartrending, it's in all the best ways. One feels wrung out and heated up throughout, sometimes in the same chapter! So so good.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, and Becke,we were just talking yesterday about how we're all about hte heroes! I do love the bastardly ones, often the ones who are trying hard to be miserable, as well as the ones who retain some edge in the end -- and the heroine's happy for it.

But I do adore this 'also ran' kind of love story, where the guy's been in the wings forever. I like to see how he develops throughout, and what he learns about the choices he makes/made. And I like when the heroine kind of never noticed him and once she does, realizes he's not some little puppy to follow her around or be trained. It's awesome when he starts to do the training.

Does that make sense?

BTW, I have to thank Dee Gist for turning me on to Kristan's books.

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristan said...

Heavens! Thank you, guys! It's funny...we writers never really know how the readers will receive a book. This one is definitely my most poignant, though I do hold myself to the "Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry" rule for all my books. One of the things that was really fun for me was writing the Black Widows, as they are based on my dear great-aunties. I actually had to tone them down for the book, because my aunts were hot tamales. Let's just say they taught me how to curse, shall we, and leave it at that.

Melanie Murray said...

Becke, great review. As you know I am knee-deep in this book right now and I can't put it down! The first Kristan Higgins I read was last year's Too Good to Be True, because I was so intrigued by Becke's constant crowing about KH's books. And I wasn't disappointed.

One of my favorite things about Kristan's books is the slate of supporting characters. They are always, always, always hilarious, and TNBT has a cast of ladies who will literally make you laugh out loud.

Love this book so far, would comment more about it but I have to go read!

Becke Davis said...

Melanie - I know I have a tendency to rave about books I like, and you are wonderfully patient with me. But, honestly, some books just deserve to be crowed about and this is one of them.

Kristan - I hope you blog about the real Black Widows one of these days. I want to know all the juicy details!

As Michelle mentioned, we are always all about the hero. I tend to kind of gloss over the heroine. I'm not sure what it says about me that I'm always rooting for the hero -- you'd think I'd have more sisterly loyalty!

Becke Davis said...

Debbie - I just know you'll love this book.

Kirsten - It's interesting that you'd describe Kristan's books as romantic comedies. If they were portrayed on film, I'm sure that's how they'd come across.

It's true that in this book especially I did actually laugh out loud (it was a description of Lucy's mother in the bathroom that just resonated with me), when I look back on her books it's the heartwrenching bits that stick with me.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oh, oh! I love what you've pointed out the supporting characters, melanie! Whenever one exclaims, "No Sir!" as in, 'that can't be true!' I crack up, because my mil and others in my husband's family in MA say the same thing. it sounds sora like, 'No Seh!" And the BoSox references are priceless if you've ever lived in that area or pay attn to baseball. So the New England and Providence RIisms -- are really funny.

Kristan said...

Michelle, I'm a huge fan of Dee Gist! Love her books! We met on book tour, and she's become a very cherished friend.

Becke, I'm going to write down that comment about enriching your life and tape it to my fridge!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

becke, i meant to say, even though i'm a hero=worshiper, i really really like Lucy, I really enjoy her. she's memorable and really likable for me.

Donna said...

I love Kristan's books, I always read them the day I get them. The Next Best Thing is filled with real characters and real family coflicts and some of the funniest lines I've ever read.

Becke Davis said...

Donna - I didn't go into all the family conflicts, but those were so realistically portrayed it made Lucy's conflicts and Ethan's pain really understandable.

Michelle - Oh, I loved Lucy. (Tell me I didn't just say that.) I LOVED the dimes, too. And the Black Widows, and that they really could bake but insisted on serving the puck-cookies.

Kristan - I just met Dee and Mark yesterday. They were my featured guests at B&N's Mystery Book Club. (Toni McGee Causey is there today.)

And I meant every word.

Bethany said...

My favorite heros are the geeky ones (The Geek Who Loved Me and such) or the ones who argue a lot with the heroine (Strange Bedfellows and Manhunting). I guess I like the heroes who I'd want to be friends with in real life--smart guys who know what they want and aren't pushovers. I like the tortured hero types only when they finally stand up for themselves and have some self-respect. I earned some scorn for saying I didn't like John Cusack's character in Say Anything because he reminded me of my best guy friend who spent 2 years being one girl's whipping boy because he thought she'd eventually love him if he was patient enough because "it worked out for John Cusack" I may have cheered a bit when he got into a healthy relationship with a girl who seemed to appreciate him :) This is a guy who desperately wanted to be some girl's Mr. Darcy.

Kristan said...

Hmm. Am having problems with blogger, so forgive me if I repeat myself..

I love to read books with a great cast of supporting characters. La Eloisa and Julia Quinn and Susan Wiggs are some authors who can really write those lovely big casts. It's one of my favorite parts of writing a book, those town members and relatives!

I guess I like any hero type, as long as he's got a big heart. It's those little things that really get me, those small kindnesses that resonate. Of course, I love The Grand Gesture, too!

Becke Davis said...

Bethany - I agree, John Cusack deserved better in "Say Anything" -- I would have gladly stepped in for that clueless Ione Skye, who didn't appreciate him. LOVE that scene where he stands in the rain holding up the humongous boom box. *sigh*

I've read all those books you mentioned, and I'll second that. If it's geeky heroes you like, don't miss Vicki Lewis Thompson's "Nerd" series. I loved the first book in her "Hex" series where a spell is cast on the super-hot guy to make him look and act nerdy. That cracked me up!

Becke Davis said...

I wouldn't call Ethan a nerd, by any means, though. He's just a really nice guy who wants to do the right thing.

The fact that he hasn't pushed his suit doesn't mean he's weak-willed by any means. He is trying to be honorable, and be whatever Lucy needs him to be.

Kristan said...

My crush on him was endless, Becke. Endless, I tell you!

Becke Davis said...

Kristan - Did I mention the dimes? I loved the dimes. It reminded me of something with pennies -- I think Dear Abby (or maybe it was Ann Landers) used to write about it. And I'm not saying any more!

One of the difficult things about reviewing this book was that I was worried I'd give something away. You wrote it like a mystery writer - I loved the way you unraveled the skein of the plot so we were always learning something new, right up to the very end of the story.

Jennifer said...

Hello,

Thanks for the giveaway. My favorite type hero is the Navy SEAL/ Spec OPS guy with a little of the bad boy edge. I also like when the hero /heroine reunite after having been separated.

jend451@gmail.com

Bethany said...

ooh, I'll have to go looking for those hex books. I think I read one of hers that had a Vegas showgirl and the casino's accountant. They used math to outsmart the antagonist. I loved it.

Amber E. said...

Hi Kristan! Congratulations on the release of "The Next Best Thing". I've been hearing nothing but great things about it, and can't wait to read it. As for my favorite type of hero in a book I like them all. I love reading about heroine falling for the bestfriend, the first love, the bad boy, or brother's best friend.

adeversmeyer(at)hotmail(dot)com

Becke Davis said...

Amber - you can't go wrong with Kristan's books. She writes wonderful heroes!

Bethany - be sure to check out Kristan's books, too. I love them all!

Jennifer - I like those types of books, too. I'm a real sucker for a good romance!

Anonymous said...

I have read some of Kristan's books and they are very good. I can't wait to read this one. I also like her covers on the books.
JOYE
JWIsley(at)aol(dot)com

Kara said...

I have been wanting to try a Kristan Higgins' book for a while now...this sounds like a fantastic one to start with!!!

I like the best friend hero...one who knows you inside and out and loves you for it. But it wouldn't hurt if he was a Harley riding "Bad Boy" either - LOL!!!

cheryl c said...

Kristan Higgins is an auto-buy for me. All of her books are on my keeper shelf because they have become comfort reads for me. I especially loved TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. I can't wait to read this new one!

Becke Davis said...

Joye, Kara and Cheryl - thanks so much for joining us!

scottsgal said...

I like heroes that have an edge to them - a little bit of bad boy but shows the softer side when he needs to
msboatgal at aol.com

amy kennedy said...

I don't discriminate against any heroes -- I love them all especially in the hands of a wonderful writer.

Wonderful review Becke.

jedisakora said...

I love the tortured heros as well. ^^ I'm also fond as the "devil may care" rakes and rouges and friend of sibilants heroes. ^^

Becke Davis said...

Jedisakora - tortured heroes are a definite weakness of mine.

Amy - True, it takes all kinds!

Scottsgal - I agree, it's that "edge" that hooks me! Yhe idea that still waters run deep . . .

snow101 said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. They are selling this book (and all their books) this today and week-end at 34% off at www.eharlequin.com.

alysap@hotmail.com

Becke Davis said...

Good to know, snow. Thanks!

Shannon said...

After reading this blog...I am running out to buy this books. Sounds like a great book to get me through the weekend!

Becke Davis said...

Shannon - you might as well buy them all at once. When you've read one of Kristan's books, you'll want to read the rest!

Kristan said...

Glad you liked the dimes, Becke! Remind me to tell you sometime about my little statue of a Golden Retriever...

I love the hero who just grates on the heroine's last nerve. That's just a blast to write AND read.

Anonymous said...

PPPPPPLLLLEEEEAAASSSEEEE PPPIIICCCKKK
MMMEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Becke Davis said...

Anonymous - Michelle will need your email address for the drawing.

Kristan - I want to hear that story!

Stephanie said...

I've just found Kristan's books and so glad that I have. This one looks FANtastic.

sgurnsey at yahoo dot com

chey said...

This book sounds great! Can't wait to read it!

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Becke Davis said...

Stephanie - Kristan's books are wonderful. I'd have a hard time picking a favorite.

Hi Chey - I hope you enjoy it!

Spav said...

I like the first love hero, one that leaves and then comes back and reencounters the heroine.

spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

Sue A. said...

I know I'm where I want to be when I hear someone mention "tortured heroes." I like strong emotions and lots of angst in the books I choose to read and tortured heroes are guaranteed to deliver that.

Princess Bumblebee said...

Oh, the bad guy on the Harley, definately. But I also love the tortured hero! Can't help but sigh over either one!

Becke Davis said...

So Spav, Sue and Princess - we get two votes for tortured heroes, one for Harley guy and one for the guy that got away. Hmm, I think we just like hot heroes of all kinds!

Kristan said...

I think you're right, Becke! It doesn't really matter exactly how they are, as long as we fall in love!

Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments, everyone! It's been so much fun hanging out here today. Special thanks to Michelle and Becke for the gracious welcome!

Cheerio!
Kristan

Becke Davis said...

Thank you, Kristan, for writing such wonderful books! And thanks for hanging out with us today!

Linda Henderson said...

She writes such wonderful books, I can't wait to read this one.

seriousreader at live dot com

cheryl c said...

You know, I don't really have a favorite kind of hero. I like all kinds of heroes: alpha, beta, bad boy, tortured, best friend, historical, contemporary, etc. I just love a good romance! Does that make me "easy"? ;-)

Becke Davis said...

Hi Linda and Cheryl - thanks for joining us! This is such a great book -- I think you'll like it no matter what kind of hero you prefer.

Anonymous said...

My favorite type of hero is any guy who's filled with too much angst. If it takes a lot for the guy to get the girl, count me in!

Diana
ISRAEL2 at hotmail dot com

Paula R said...

Hey Becke, I love the review you gave about Kristan's latest. I am just sorry I missed hanging out and chatting with her. I think TNBT was my favorite of all the books so far. I didn't think that it would happen, but it did. I fell in love with Lucy and Ethan. Her fears were my fears, and her pain was my pain. I loved the appearance of the dimes, but I thought that they would be symbolic of something else. I am not sure what, but I felt that there was going to be a little more to them. I loved the scene where Lucy realizes the extent of her love for Ethan. He was the tragic hero, through and through, and I love these types of heroes. He is not too perfect and he struggles like every normal person would, and he is a tower of strength for, in essences, denying himself the one thing he really wants, and giving up everything so that Lucy can be happy. I love them.

Kristan is an auto buy for me as well. I love all her books. They do tend to wring me dry though. Have a great evening everyone!

Peace and love,
Paula R.

donnas said...

Sounds like a great book. I havent read one of Kristan's yet but I think I need to change that soon.

Becke Davis said...

Diana - you are going to LOVE Ethan!

Donna - so many people count Kristan's books as a must-buy, I think that's a sign how good they are.

Paula - I suspected what the dimes represented because I remembered reading something similar. It was the kind of thing I was excited to figure out ahead of time. I read so many mysteries, I almost always pick up the clues early on but I still like it when I find out I guessed correctly. I loved the way this book ended!

Pat L. said...

I love Kristan's books. Please count me in. Happy Valentine's Day.

Pat L. said...

Sorry, I got so excited with the prize I forgot my email and to answer the question. LOL.

patoct@yahoo.com

I like all kinds of heroes - man next door, tortured hero, successful businessman, bad boy or old boyfriend returning in heroines life.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Pat - I agree, while I have favorites, I really like all kinds of heroes.

Anonymous said...

I love Kristan's books and like all kinds of heroes - you need some diversity, right? LOL.

Thanks for offering this new book. Would love to win it.
KT

lovesthemets@yahoo.com

Paula R said...

Hey Becke, this book was a little different than the others, and I did get the sense of a mystery going on. I swear that she was going to find out something about Jimmy. I kept waiting for it and searching for it, and then when MD showed up, I was like, yes, here it is...the mystery is solved. I held on to that until the discovery of her real feelings for Ethan. There were just so many clues that something was going to happen, I just didn't know what. I think Kristan outdid herself with this one. It started in a different way, but she had me all the way through. That girl can write!!!

You don't have to count me in for the prize BTW. Those of you who haven't read Kristan, should definitely get her back list. They are all funny, and I see the romantic comedy in them too. They each touch you in a different way.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Becke Davis said...

KT - I agree, variety is the spice of life!

Paula - that was one of the things I liked about this book. The story unraveled like a mystery novel - there were always things to figure out along the way.

mariska said...

Am i too late ? am i too late ?
i hope Not !

I've been trying to win this book on several blogs. please PICK me :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

Becke Davis said...

I'm not sure if the winner has been drawn yet. Good luck!

ev said...

So my v'day treat to myself was this book, along with the other three for my sony. Half way through and am thoroughly enjoying it! Thanks for the recommendation!

we have had a very lazy day- quiet b'fast, visit from daughter #1, sitting and reading and napping off and on with the olympics playing on the tv. dinner of chicken cordon bleu.

and I have two or three chocolate covered strawberries left for tonight.

all in all, just the way we like it.

i hope everyone had a good valentine's day!

Becke Davis said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying the book -- but I'm not surprised. Kristan has become a favorite of a lot of my friends.

My Valentine was busy at BN.com - luckily my husband and I went out for a Valentine dinner earlier in the week when the restaurants were less crowded.

We normally just exchange cards (3 each - it's a tradition now), but this year he got me a box of Godiva chocolates, too. That was cruel - now I'll have to do even more time on the treadmill to work them off!

Kristan said...

Becke, sounds like your husband is a smart man! Chocolate is never a bad idea, treadmill consequences or not!

Becke Davis said...

True, Kristan. They were soooo good!