Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins
Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins
Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

(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.

The upside

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.

The downside

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.

Title: Too Good To Be True (excerpt)
Author: Kristan Higgins
ISBN: 9780373775156
Release date: January 2010
Publisher: HQN Books
Format: Mass market

Where you can buy this book

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WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | HQN Books (Publisher)

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Wandergurl is a sometime traveller who spends her daylight hours making sure that things go the way they're supposed to with minimum bureaucracy (don't ask!). A firm believer that thirty is the new twenty, she will probably never look her age (or act it!). An enthusiastic football supporter (that would be soccer to you) she will get up at odd hours to watch a game, and of course it's not just because the players are hot. She loves history, geography and is pretty good at trivia, thanks to her propensity to remember random bits of celebrity gossip. When not reading or travelling, she can be found indulging in her other passion -- eating -- and can be found at Wake up and smell the coffee.


  1. Kat says:

    I’ve mentioned these to you already, but just in case other readers want contemp recs: Love is a Four-Legged Word by Kandy Shepard, and anything by Kathleen O’Reilly, but especially her Bachelorette Pact series (old Temptations so you’ll have to get them secondhand).

    Why do I get the feeling that the book needs a dog for you to like it? :-D

  2. Kaetrin says:

    I really enjoyed this one.  KH writes a really funny, easy read.
    I’ve read and enjoyed all of the other Kristan Higgins novels too but I’m a bit worried about her newest one which has just come out (It’s called The Next Best Thing).  It sounds like an earlier book with a different name and cover.  She’s already written  a book where the heroine falls for her sister’s ex husband and now this one is where she falls for her dead husband’s brother.  It seems like there might be a high ick factor for me.   I’d be interested in what others think.
    But, back to the topic, Too Good to Be True was fun and I breezed through it.  I, too, would have liked more of the romance but I did enjoy what I got.

    Oh, as for recs – go to Jenny Crusie – there’s even dogs.  Many of her older categories are being reissued this year.  I picked up a lot those at a second hand bookstore super cheap.  I even have a spare copy of Bet Me if you want it!!

  3. SonomaLass says:

    I like Victoria Dahl’s contemporary romances, Talk Me Down, Start Me Up, and Lead Me On. I agree that Kathleen O’Reilly is good.  So is Jill Shalvis, and I enjoyed the first of Erin McCarthy’s car racing trilogy, but those last two both have to do with American sports, so the appeal might be limited by that.  Jennifer Crusie has a re-release, The Cinderella Deal, that looks pretty good.  I haven’t read it yet, though.

  4. Marg says:

    I read very few contemporary romances. The only authors that I go out of my way to read are Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie. I do like the Lisa Kleypas contemporaries and recently I read Robyn Carr’s first book in the Virgin River series and really enjoyed that too.

  5. Lizzy says:

    I love Kristan Higgans’ writing style and characterization, but the romance always feels secondary to me in her books — and the endings always seem rushed. Strangely, my favorite of her books is “Catch of the Day,” where this really, really happens (go figure). I guess it’s because I love the hero, who’s a total brooder. Anyway, yes, I affirm those comments who suggest Jennifer Crusie — “Welcome to Temptation,” “Faking It” and “Bet Me” are all great.

  6. Roselyn says:

    Really enjoyed the Kristan Higgins ‘The Next Best Thing’. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy and I barricked for Ethan all the way. Finished the book last night and hunted down ‘Too Good to Be True’. Looking forward to another great read! My recommendations for other contemporary novels are by Megan Hart. They are erotic/romance contemporary, not always a perfect HEA but she takes you on a journey and leaves you thinking about the story and characters well after you read her novels. Start with ‘Deeper’, then read ‘Broken’ and ‘Tempted’. You won’t be dissapointed!

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