I discovered Kristan Higgins’ work recently, and after reading All I ever Wanted I couldn’t stop until I finished all her novels. She is the reason why Contemporary Romance and Chick Lit are two of my favorite subgenres. For this review I chose what I think is one of her best novels: Just One of the Guys. This story has it all: an incredible, amazing, beautiful and funny heroine; a gorgeous hero; a dysfunctional family and the ugliest dog ever.
Just one of the Guys is about Chastity O’Neil, the only daughter among 4 brothers. She comes from a family of firefighters and athletic men so is no wonder that she is a bit of jock. After several years living in a big city she decided to go back to her hometown, Eaton Falls. She got a job in the local paper and is eager to settle down, find a man, a dog and a house.
One of the scenes that got me laughing out loud, and I mean literally loud (I was in the library at the moment pretending to work on my dissertation), is when she describes “Alan of the Gray Tooth” one of her co-workers and the only male admirer she’s had since moving back to Eaton Falls:
“I really hope you’ll like it here,” says Alan (5'8" and this is with chunky-heeled Doc Martens), grinning. Like Judas at the Last Supper, the gray tooth is malignantly out of place, sitting ominously in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable row of normal teeth. I try to look away from it, but it’s weirdly compelling. Alan raises an eyebrow. Eech.
“Sure. Yeah, I’m, uh, I’m sure I will. Thanks.”
“Maybe we can get together for drinks later on at the old watering hole where us journalists like to hang out.”
That should be “where we journalists like to hang out,” Al, old buddy. “I’m…I don’t…” I can’t hear properly. The Tooth has taken control of me.
“Drinks it is, then,” Alan says. “Awesome.”
Jesus. How did that thing get so gray? Doesn’t Alan know his own tooth is rotting away in his mouth? Shouldn’t it be pulled? It certainly should be capped. As Alan talks, the gray tooth blinks darkly, Alan’s narrow lips moving around the words that I’m ignoring, fascinated by the evil power of The Tooth. Like Tolkien’s Ring, it has a hypnotic, undeniable power. One tooth to rule them, one tooth to find them, one tooth to bring them all, and in the darkness bite them.”
Oh God, just writing this review and remembering the book has me cracking up. Chastity is so cool, intelligent and funny. She loves sports –I do too, the only difference is that she actually plays them- and she rows! She made me want to go the Thames and pay the insanely high fees they charge for the equipment and rowing classes (not that I actually did it, though). She has her mind set on finding the love of her life but in the meantime she needs to get over Trevor, the guy who broke her heart years ago and who also happens to be the honorary brother of the O’Neil gang.
If you have read any other book by Kristan Higgins you know that her novels are more about the heroine’s journey to self-discovery than about the actual romance. Just One of the Guys is no exception. We only get one point of view –Chastity’s- and half of the novel is about her relationship with Dr. Perfect (who isn’t the book’s hero). However, we know that she is trying to move on and find love with someone other than Trevor, and we “see” her making all the right decisions in order to reach that goal.
I had to point out how funny this book is, but it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t warn you: it is also heart-breaking. Trevor and Chastity’s story is charming. The relationship between the brothers and their significant other is compelling, but the story of Chastity’s Mum and Dad is plain beautiful and I’m positive that it will make you cry. They are divorced and have a peaceful relationship up until Chas’ Mum decides to start dating again. Throughout the book you will laugh, cry, get mad and probably relate to the different stories and characters. In Kristan Higgins’ books family is, in fact, another character and is one of the aspects that makes me love her books even more.
Sometimes you read a story that inspires you without you even knowing it; this was one of those times. It’s the tale of a woman who has had some bumps along the way –mostly in the love department- but is still able to keep going and believing in love. She is confident enough in her abilities as a professional that she is willing to change her pretentious career in New York for a more steady and peaceful life in a small town. And more important, she is determined to overcome her fears, including an aversion to blood, and to stop being just one of the guys.
As you can guess, I am giving this story a 5. I loved it and I am going to read it again, and again, and again. I’ll let you know if I finally decide to learn how to row.
Review by Marie
Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be...
So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1--she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2--she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over--although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys....
HQN Books. August 1, 2008