This is the third book I’ve read by this author and I think I’ve finally found the key to really enjoy them: it’s all about the heroine. If you can relate to her, then you are probably going to like the book because this author doesn’t write romance, she writes woman’s fiction. This means that even though you do get a hero -or a romantic interest I should say- he is basically a secondary character and could never be called a protagonist.
Our heroine is Millie Barnes. She is back in her hometown and is determined to get her dream’s life. To do that she needs to find a job as a family doctor, she needs to lose weight and get a makeover, and she needs to get a man. But not any man will do, she wants Joe Carpenter (who also happens to be a carpenter) a man she has wanted ever since high school (when she was nerdy, pudgy and puking on other people’s shoes). And so she finds a job -albeit not the one she wanted-, she begins to exercise and she starts to stalk Joe in order to “accidentally” run into him. But sometimes what we want isn’t what we need or what will makes us happy, and it takes Millie a lot of time to realize that.
Millie’s best friend is Sam Nickerson. Sam was married to Millie’s sister for a long time until she cheated on him and left. Sam is brokenhearted and Millie is going out of her way to cheer him up and to find him a new love interest. It’s quite obvious were this is going (especially after meeting Joe) but as I said this isn’t a straight romance so their relationship builds really slowly.
Of the three books I’ve read, this ranks second (this is my number 1). It wasn’t my favorite mostly because the romance really takes a back seat. But there were a lot of things that I loved and they mostly came from Millie. She was a wonderful character. I really could relate to her struggle to become a better person and to be happy with herself. It was nice to see a girl who went for it and didn’t expect others to help her achieve her dreams. Some of you might be bothered by the fact that she wanted to get in shape to get a guy’s attention, but I really think that she wanted to feel good about herself, and getting the man of her dreams was only a part of that. Besides, I believe that when you decide to lose weight or alter your appearance in any way there’s always a part of you that does it for someone else, it might be a guy, or one of those passive-aggressive mothers who used to buy you clothes a couple of sizes too small, or maybe a mean girl in high school, but there is always a part of you that wants to have a little revenge (I do think that’s unhealthy to change yourself only for those reasons though, so don’t yell at me in the comments).
Sam was and interesting character. Higgins doesn’t write alpha-males, so don’t expect a macho and possessive hero. Don’t really expect a hero either, because he really plays the role of the friend, and things between them don’t change until almost the end of the book. I do think that it was slightly creepy that he was her brother-in-law but the way they deal with the situation was mature and realistic, maybe even too realistic; I was expecting a more dramatic turn of events and more of a romance-novel-like ending I guess. Their relationship was sweet and who doesn’t love a friends-to-lovers story? But I was expecting a little bit more mostly because I had to wait a lot for them to be together.
There are a couple of secondary characters worth mentioning, Joe and the sister. I found them to be cartoonish and one-dimensional. I couldn’t understand what took Millie so long to figure out that Joe was far from ideal and the sister was just your stereotypical “antagonist” who only shows up to cause trouble and the big misunderstanding that in this case wasn’t really that big.
I liked the book mainly because of the protagonist, she was hilarious and real. She was flawed and goodhearted but made mistakes just like any normal person would do. Her optimism was a bit annoying though, but if you can ignore that, then you will have a blast. The rest of the book did feel a bit bland and the secondary characters weren’t as remarkable as in some of her other books.
If you are a fan of romantic comedy and don’t mind the lack of a conventional love story, then this one is for you. A light and fun read perfect for the summer.
Review by Brie
Millie Barnes is this close to finally achieving her perfect life...Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable puppy suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.But perfection isn't as easy as it looks--especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. Sure, he needs a friend after being dumped by Millie's fortune-hunting sister, but does she really need to enjoy his company that much? He is definitely not part of her master plan. But maybe it's time for Millie to start a new list...
Harlequin (Reprint Edition). April 1, 2010.