The Next Best Thing

by Kristan Higgins

This is not my favorite Kristan Higgins book, entirely due to my disapproval and borderline dislike of Lucy, our widowed heroine, and her Aunts and mother, the Black Widows. Not to mention her In-Laws, who were just disgusting sometimes. Ethan was way too good for her and his family, and I do not see why he loved her so much. Ethan is so clearly superior to dead Jimmy in every way that her failure to appreciate him and deserve him was just eye-rolling. She was annoyingly obsessed with her dead husband. Watching her wedding video practically every night. Please. She was also way too slow to take control of her career and to stop wasting her talents. Jimmy was portrayed as too perfect and too good to be true. It is later in the book that we start to get hints that maybe he wasn’t as perfect as he was described.

**spoiler**

Ethan calling him “Saint Jimmy”, for example. KH kind of set the reader up for a big reveal regarding some weak or bad deeds that Jimmy might have done, but what rips the blindfold from Lucy’s eyes is such a mild error in judgement and taste that it turns into an anticlimax. while I’m on a roll criticizing my favorite author, there was a bit of a cheat near the end. After putting up with Lucy mourning her perfect marriage to perfect Jimmy throughout the whole book, she throws out, almost like an afterthought, that marital relations with Jimmy were “sweet” rather that hot and mind-blowing as sex with Ethan is. Huh? What? It just makes her look even more clueless for breaking up with Ethan. **end spoiler**

All that said, I did enjoy most of the book, on this re-read. I love the way Kristan Higgins adds little touches that add depth to her characterizations. For example, her making Jorge, her assistant in the bakery, mute. He is such a minor character and it was so totally unnecessary, that to make this choice in drawing the character is just so deft and thoughtful. It not only adds depth and interest to the story, but adds a level of needed likability to Lucy. Kristan does this in many of her books. The same treatment applies to the mean Doral (named after the cigarette brand, now that’s funny!), Lucy’s nemesis. As always, the humor, characterizations, smart dialogue, and plotting were top notch despite my quibbles with some aspects of the story. What is a 3 star effort from Kristan Higgins, would probably earn 4 stars from another author. I just hold her to a higher standard! **3 stars out of 5**

February 18, 2018 (re-read)

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