October 24, 2011

Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins


Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.

I’m a fan of Kristan Higgins’ work. Some of her books have been more of a miss than a hit for me, but I know that I can always count on her to make me laugh and spend a pleasant evening reading a good story. That’s why I was so happy to see this book on Netgalley and why I didn’t hesitate to request it. It was a big surprise when I started reading it and realized that this marked a big “first” for Kristan since in this book we were getting the hero’s POV as well as the heroine’s.

Posey Osterhagen has a pretty great life. She owns a successful business, has a fantastic relationship with her family, lives in a wonderful house with her huge dog and three cats and has an almost-boyfriend. But things are about to get upside-down when the town’s former bad boy and Posey’s High School crush, returns.


Liam is back so his teenage daughter can be close to her maternal grandparents. He is trying to bring some stability to their life after losing his wife to cancer two years ago. This former bad boy is far from the person he used to be and he only wants to be a good parent, but because of some things that happened to him he is afraid that something might happen to him and that his daughter will be left alone, which causes him to act overprotective and crazy. What he doesn’t want or need is to feel this sudden attraction for the woman who used to follow him around when they were in school.

This book had all the common themes that we are used to finding in Higgins’ stories. There’s a quirky heroine with even quirkier friends, the dog, the brooding hero and the crazy family dynamics. But it’s also a huge departure from what we are used to since this book is much more focused on the romance, it actually reads like a contemporary romance instead of a chick-lit, and as I said before we get the hero’s POV.

Even though this book had several things going for it in the end it didn’t work for me and the main reason was Liam. Granted, he was an interesting character, I think the idea of having a former bad boy dealing with a teenage girl was interesting, and the father/daughter dynamics was sweet and funny to read. I also think that his story was a bit of what happens after the happily ever after: the womanizer bad boy meets and falls in love with the good girl, they ride into the sunset, get married, have a kid, and then life happens: she feels trapped, he is unhappy but trying to make things work, and then she gets sick and dies and he is devastated. So yes, he was an interesting character but he wasn’t a good hero. There were so many things going on with him that he didn’t have time to focus on Posey and I kept thinking that she deserved better. He was a devoted father no questions about it, but I do question his love for Posey and since I wasn’t really sold on the love story, I wasn’t sold on the book either.

The best part about this book was hands down the heroine. I absolutely adored Posey (her annoying habit of saying "Oh bieber!" aside) and I think she saved the book from being a complete wreck. This is the most confident and self-assured heroine Higgins has written and she is also the tiniest. Whereas in her previous books her heroines tended to be in the statuesque category, Posey was around 5’2 and 100 pounds (there’s a scene where she chaperones a prom and gets confused for a student). The fact that I liked her so much is why I was so annoyed by the way she reacted to Liam. She felt insecure and undeserving even to the point of begging, I don’t want to give that much away but I think she deserved better and it was unnerving to see her treating herself in such a poor way.

Probably one of the reasons I didn’t like the book was that I was expecting something light and fun as usual, and what I got was a darker and more serious book. There are some light moments (all the scenes involving Posey’s brother-in-law were hilarious) but overall the issues the characters are dealing with were no laughing matter.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, for everything but the romance. All the characters are interesting and likeable, even Liam as long as it didn’t involve Posey, they are also a bunch of wackjobs. The theme of belonging is present throughout the book with Liam, Posey and her family, with her friends and even with the annoying cousin. I read this book in one sitting and I might have enjoyed it more had I been forewarned that this wasn’t Kristan Higgin’s usual.  I think it is a good book but it doesn’t work as a love story, at least not for me.

Review by Brie
Grade: 3
Sensuality: McDreamy

Synopsis:

Posey Osterhagen can't complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she's surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something's missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking…something like Liam Murphy.
When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he's back, sending Posey's traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas….

HQN Books. October 25, 2011.

14 comments:

  1. I cannont wait to read this book. It is on order and should be hear soon....
    Just love Kristan's books..

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  2. Hi Kathleen!

    It comes out tomorrow so you probably won’t have to wait long! There’s something addictive about her books right? Her heroines are hilarious!

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  3. Hey Brie, your review echoes a lot of the other reviews out there for this book. I'm glad this read more like a contemporary romance and that we finally get the hero POV! Just too bad that the romance isn't great ^_^;

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  4. Hi Nath!

    I read some reviews today when I posted mine on Goodreads and yes, this hero is a bit of a “love him or hate him” kind of guy. But regardless of the fact that the romance didn’t work for me I really enjoyed the book, the tone is a bit more serious than in her previous novels but the characters are remarkable, I wonder if she will keep writing in third person because she is one of the few authors who really know how to do first person narratives, not that the third person was bad, just unexpected.

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  5. Too bad. The tory sound like it could have been an interesting one. Posey kinda sounds like another Bella, except she at least sounds likeable with her insecurity issues. I hate that it was a bit of a disappointment to you. It sounds like it had the potentional to really be great.

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  6. Hmmm..I've never read Higgins but I know she is popular...will have to look into her books!

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  7. @Jade: You mean Bella from Twilight? They are nothing alike, don’t worry about that. Posey’s insecurities were believable and they came from a believable source, and she was one of those people who rise above that. I really liked her.

    Higgins’ heroines tend to be that way, they have insecurities that are quite believable and you can relate to them.

    But based on your reviews and the type of books you like I think this is an author you must read, I’m sure you are going to love her books.

    @Mandi: yep, she is one of the big names in chick-lit, and she deserves the reputation. If I were you I wouldn’t start with this one though, but they are highly addictive so you’ll probably end up reading it anyway.

    Thanks for stopping by, guys!

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  8. Hey Brie :) I just finished reading Until There Was You and I'm going to review it pretty soon... but I enjoyed it a bit more than you :) I don't know if it's because my expectations were low?

    In any case, I get what you mean about POVs. It's true that she does 1st POV very well, but the problem is that you don't get enough of the hero and it makes the whole thing more chick-lit. As a first attempt, I think the 3rd POV in Until There was You was really well done :)

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  9. Hi nath!

    The narration was flawless as usual, especially considering this was her first time doing 3rd person. I do prefer 3rd person because I’m not the biggest fan of chick-lit, but Higgins’ books are chick-lit done right -at least in my humble opinion- and since she does it so well I was just surprised. But I’ll read her books regardless of the narrator.

    My dislike of the romance in the book was just personal. I don’t like the widow trope and I hate it when the dead wife was perfect and keeps casting this huge shadow over the new romance (although she wasn’t really perfect and he knew it). So it was an uphill battle from the get go. I couldn’t stop thinking that Posey was second best and that Liam had too much on his plate to focus on her, and I don’t blame him, your kids should always come first, but in this case I felt like Posey loved him more than he loved her, and that’s just plain wrong. I also had a huge problem with how she begged him, that’s a big no-no for me.

    I’m glad you liked it, I’m guessing you don’t mind about the widow thing as much as I do. This is also a huge reminder of why you should never choose to read -or not read- a book based on one single review, because reviews are personal opinions and they are always colored by the reviewer’s likes and dislikes.

    Can’t wait to read your review and see your take on it!

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  10. OMG! my response didn't look that long when I was writing it... Sorry about that ;-D

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  11. hey brie. KH is one of my favorite authors & i got the netgalley, as well. i liked the book, but i do agree with a lot of your points. here's my review: http://wp.me/p1FaW7-8F
    ~dixie

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  12. I’m reading it right now!

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  13. I know what you mean about Liam. His attraction and desire to spend time with Posey is pretty evident, but we weren't shown how he came to truly LOVE her. Despite that, I still really loved this book. Like you said, Posey is a fantastic character and the narration is flawless.

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  14. Hi Christine!

    That’s exactly it! We don’t see him falling in love because he’s so busy with everything else that’s going on in his life that he can’t even think about the fact that he’s falling for Posey. But I’m glad you liked it, as I think I said before, this is good example of how reviews are just personal opinions and you should take them with a grain of salt, even if you usually agree with the reviewer because liking or disliking a story is such a personal thing (unless of course the book is poorly written or the hero likes to kill kittens and eat babies, or something like that, in that case if you don’t hate the book there’s something wrong with you) that you never really know until you try!

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.