(Otherwise known as OMG, Wandergurl is reading a contemporary that is not also a paranormal and is not written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.)
Grace Emerson is history teacher and civil war buff whose ex-fiancé is now dating her baby sister whom she loves and adores. Tired of the pitying looks and parental nagging, she invents a hot boyfriend to appease her family. In the meantime, Callahan O’Shea, a rugged bad boy with Irish heritage, moves in next door. Now … should she or shouldn’t she?
We all know what happens next, but Kristan Higgins does a good job of reinventing the (bad) boy next door and making the whole story appealing. Too Good To Be True is a hilarious mix of well thought out characters—including a cute West Highland terrier—in an easy to read page turner that kept me grinning.
Grace is a very relatable character. As a history nerd with an equally nagging family. (Mum asks me if I’ve met Anyone Interesting no matter where I go. I’m waiting for her to ask that the next time I see the gynaecologist.) I could see parts of me in parts of Grace. Callahan is equally well fleshed out, with a decent back story and enough cues that show you and not tell you what kind of a guy he is.
All the secondary characters are well thought of as well. Higgins does a good job of working the dynamic between Grace and her two sisters, and how that fits into the story. Her parents, well meaning but occasionally nutty, are standouts, and Higgins even manages to make Grace’s gay best friend seem less like Will of Will & Grace but more like a real person. Even if he is meant to look like Johnny Depp.
The plot is typical—it’s a Harlequin, after all—but it’s not the kind of plot that makes you go, What, this again? I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have a big misunderstanding turn out to be so normal. It’s not caused by spies, vampires psycho or otherwise, evil stepmothers, the English government, a serial killer or whatever. This in itself was very refreshing.
While Grace is a great character, later on sometimes I just wanted to ask her to stop being nice. She has middle child syndrome, which she herself acknowledges, and I guess it’s a testament to the author’s ability to get me to like the character, be annoyed with her, and believe in her again when she came to her own.
My main beef with this book is that I found the romance to be more of a secondary plot to the character’s development. It took about three-quarters of the book before the characters had any romantic interaction, and then it felt a bit rushed. Big fall, big misunderstanding, big make up all towards the end. It seemed like they spent half of the book just sort of meeting and then meeting again. This is a Harlequin! I expected more romance, and while I appreciated all the growth, interactions, etc., etc., why did my romance take so long?
Yay or nay?
I really liked this book. I read it quickly—even sneaking the last 20 pages in while I was supposed to be working. It’s a very easy read, and I would recommend it for the fun characters and development but caution you on the romance—it’s there, but be patient. It takes a while.
P.S. I’d really like to try more contemporaries this year, so if you can recommend some that aren’t by SEP or Rachel Gibson, with no crimes to solve or Navy SEALs, that would be great!
This book is published by HQN Books, an imprint of Harlequin.
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