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November 3rd, 2008

_Fools Rush In_, Kristan Higgins

I got this one through TitleTrader, because I couldn't get it through kindle (and if you tell me you can get it as a kindle book now, I will gnash my teeth in anger and annoyance because I did wait a couple days to give it time to show up and It Did Not).

As a general principle, when I find a new (to me) author of romance novels, I read backwards through the author's work until I stop liking it. Then I stop, because if I keep going, it will only annoy me worse. I will note that this _only_ works for me with romance novels; Neal Stephenson, for example, is pretty random in terms of how I will feel about a particular work but I tend to prefer earlier ones to later ones. By this metric, what I _really_ want to know is what other name(s) Higgins wrote under earlier. I'm not saying they exist -- I'm saying I've read what she's written under this name and liked it all and am now wishing there was more.

The previous two Higgins novels both had parents of a protagonist who were divorc(ed)(ing). Not so in this one. In one of the earlier Higgins novels, and in this one, the protagonist falls hopelessly in love (and ultimately gets together with) someone who is a brother-like figure in her life. In _Just One of the Guys_, the brother was a friend who was sort-of adopted when he was sort-of abandoned after his sister died of leukemia (I think that was the disease) and their parents broke up and the mother drank too much and blah, blah, bleeping blah.

We've got some trends here.

Coupled with the hysterically funny Dates From Hell theme through all three books that is all too reminiscent of Jennifer Crusie's _Manhunting_, I'm sitting here wondering if I'm reading Crusie under another name. I don't _think_ I am. But I wonder. Of course, in Crusie, mum tries a bit of lesbianism, but ultimately moves back in with Dear Old Dad. And the older sister's marriage to the guy Our Heroine Lusts After lasted maybe a year, not 20 and didn't result in offspring.

But enough speculation and wondering.

[ETA: Nope. Not Crusie. Or if it is, Kristan Higgins' website is running a huge con. Which, knowing Crusie, is possible, if not probable. And in any event, Higgins doesn't sound nearly cynical enough to be Crusie.]

Our heroine is a newly minted family practice doc returning to Eastham (on Cape Cod) where she grew up. After taking up running and dieting for a few months and with the dress and grooming assistance of her gay friends in Provincetown, she transforms herself from an average looking, chubby smart girl to a sharp looking quick witted Fun Girl to attract the attention of Joe Carpenter (the Carpenter). You know how in romance novels, the guy is often jaded and sick of dating supermodels and takes up with an average girl because she's more fun to be with/talk to/cooks/whatever? Well, if that's to be believed at all, it ought to work both ways. And here, it does: JC is just a Big Kid who is _way_ too good looking for his own good. It takes Millie a long time to figure it out.

Which is probably the weirdest thing about this, and which makes it kind of iffy as a romance novel -- it's more like chick lit. Because after working crazy hard to get Joe -- and getting Joe, and not only getting Joe, but getting Joe to really fall hard for her, she realizes she really wants Sam. So we honestly have the heroine sleeping with one guy for over half the book, but ending up married to someone else.

Entirely too realistic for a straight-up romance. Highly recommended -- lots and lots of fun. I don't fully understand how Higgins has come up with three distinctly different and appealing local settings (upstate New York in _Just One of the Guys_, way north in Maine in _Catch of the Day_, and the Cape in _Fools Rush In_) that all ring true for me and don't blend together too much. If anyone else takes to reading these, I'd be interested in a second opinion. Are these books really this good? Or do they just work really, really well for me, personally?