by Kristan Higgins
Anything For You starts out with our hero’s (Connor) proposal to our heroine (Jessica) being turned down. The rest of the book traces their history together from their childhood to several months into the future. It runs roughly parallel to his twin sister Colleen’s romance told in the previous book, Waiting on You. Many friends and lovers from the series make important appearances, advancing the story, and allowing glimpses into how their lives and marriages are continuing. Thus it makes a very appropriate wrap up to her Blue Heron series. Anything For You also continues Higgins’ trend of incorporating more serious themes into her generally lighthearted and funny romances. In this one we learn that the mysterious Jessica, very much a background figure in a few of her books and known as the high school slut, is the loving caretaker and sister of Davey, rendered “intellectually disabled” by fetal alcohol syndrome. Dark indeed. But, as usual, Kristan handles this potentially depressing sub-plot in a manner that makes it anything but.
We are treated to some priceless scenes and funny quips throughout, Kristan’s hallmark.
In one, Jessica is forced to try stripping to afford Davey’s expensive meds. Connor shows up coincidentally and is set to pay up and go (“Time to head off before his old catechism teacher showed up.”) as Jessica makes her cringe-worthy and hilariously inept debut. After she is booed off the stage, he accosts her in her dressing room.
“So rhythm isn’t really your thing,” Connor said…and she jumped out of her chair like he’d tazed her. “Shit”…”What are you doing here?”…I’m a scout for Dancing with the Stars. Sorry we’ve had to rule you out.”…”I needed some extra money”. ..”Really? It’s not your dream to be a stripper?” “Shut up”…”So Jess,” Mrs. Adamson said, thundering down the hall. “You’re fired. Sorry, kid. Stripping’s not for everyone.” “You were quite good, though, Mrs. Adamson,” Connor said. He handed her a twenty. “Oh Connor O’Rourke! Look at you, all grown up!” Thanks sweetheart.” She pinched his cheek and took the cash.
There are scenes that make you want to cheer.
Jessica’s alcoholic father (Keith Dunn) shows back up after many years wanting to make amends. Horrified, she apprehensively agrees to meet him, and without asking, her friends, the once hated Holland family, take seats in the restaurant to back her up and provide support if needed.
“Okay, you’re angry, I accept that.” …He sighed. And I can’t undo what I did. But I love you and Davey—“ “No you don’t.” I have a disease, Jessie. “I don’t want to hear it. Mom had a disease, remember? She died, if you recall and right after that, you blew out of town, took out three credit cards in my name and put me fourteen grand in the hole while I waitressed to support your disabled son.” There was a clatter from the Holland table. Jess had the impression that Pru had just grabbed a sharp object, God bless her…. I think you’re exaggerating how bad things were,” he said, and that’s when Jessica completely surprised herself and threw her beer in his face.
Connor is on a date in the same restaurant (Ah ha! Ah ha! Ah ha ha ha. That was her laugh. The first time she’d let it rip Connor thought she was coughing up a hairball.) He sees Tom Barlow come through the bar, half dragging Keith Dunn by his collar, and escorting him none too gently out the door.
We read about a guy so hot he is called “Smokin’McDamn”. How one character finds out he is not the “Special Snowflake” he thought he was. We read about “the Lying Liar of Lieville.”
There is a hilarious account of a visit to a New Age Drum Circle
“Let’s think back to the heartbeat of the brave little frog who decided to be the first to venture out of the slime of the past and bravely leap onto the shores of today.” Her father snorted.)
Usually, it is Kristan’s heroines who go on a series of hilariously disastrous dates. This time, it’s Connor (“So. Would you rather burn to death, or be buried alive?”, One of his dates asks as an ice-breaker.)
He decides to take Jessica and Davey to a 4-H fair.
”How about some food?” she suggested. “Seems kind of insensitive, Connor murmured…’the barns, the barbecue pit. The cows must be doing head counts every fifteen minutes’.”
Of course, the inimitable Colleen tries to resolve the conflict and roadblocks between her twin brother and Jessica.
( “…so if you’re just gonna sit there and let him find someone else, well, I seriously misjudged you.” She popped the baby off her breast and switched sides. “Sorry about this, by the way. Now you’ve seen my boobs. Congratulations. So. Back to Connor. Go get him, Jess! I mean , what the hell?”)
Although she did have me wondering throughout most of the book how she was going to possibly achieve it, it won’t be a spoiler to say that everything turns out great in the end and an epilogue insures a happily ever after for everyone involved and even some who aren’t all that involved. **5 out of 5 stars**
January 1, 2016