walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

_Too Good to Be True_, Kristan Higgins

I love me some Higgins. She sets her novels in New England, but in a variety of places. This one is in Connecticut. Again, a lot of the plot seems like (a) disassembled and reassembled Crusie novel(s). There's the whole dumped at the altar by the guy who previously dumped a sister of the bride (_Bet Me_, if IIRC). There's the mom's obsessed with female parts (altho she isn't a lesbian in this version). There's the whole string of people moving in with Our Heroine in order to make some sort of point with a spouse (altho Dad doesn't do it this time).

Our Heroine gets dumped, but isn't stalked. She falls for the hunky guy with a slightly sordid past. She tells some lies. Really, a lot like parts of Jennifer Crusie novels.

But this isn't a Jennifer Crusie novel. You know how you can tell? Honestly Is the Best Policy in a Higgins novel. And it usually isn't in a Crusie novel. Even if the dogs are awfully similar in their destructive behavior and need for structure, you can really tell the difference between Crusie and Higgins.

But I love them both.

Summary (think Cliff's Notes so there are spoilers): Our Heroine, a teacher at a small private school in Connecticut which has both day and boarding students has recently been dumped by her fiance. They had just bought a fixer-upper together so she threw herself into fixing it up. She needs a date for the (third) wedding of a cousin. Desperately. Unable to come up with one in time, and appalled at the way her family is treating her (as a wounded dog covered with sores), she makes up a New Man, which is particularly helpful in assuaging her younger sister who is now dating her ex-fiancee.

The story, unfortunately, grows uncontrollably, altho her other sister and two friends (one straight woman with stalkerish tendencies and one gay man too nervous to date for the last 8 years) see right through it -- after all, Our Heroine has done this before. The fake guy serves family purposes fabulously, but interferes with Our Heroine getting it on with the ex-accountant, ex-con embezzler carpenter who is flipping the house next door (I guess this book was written _before_ the crash. Bummer.). She eventually tells everyone she broke up with the fake guy, nails the hunky ex-con and even brings him to the rehearsal dinner where everyone has negative opinions of him compared to the guy who didn't exist. Funny, that (funnier still when a guy who actually matches the description of the fake guy really wants to go out with her later in the tale).

Well, the embezzler was covering for his brother, who was perfectly happy to sell him out to stay out of jail himself. The ex-fiancee, predictably, bails at the altar and is beaten up by mom, Our Heroine and others. The Heroine's siblings go track down the hunky guy who dumped Our Heroine when he found out about the pathological lying problem she had and tell him he made a mistake and by the epilogue, everyone is reproducing, so mom and dad even get grandkids.

As always, I have reservations about heroines who like Gone with the Wind. But the history buff thing is played so perfectly throughout the novel that I guess I can forgive Higgins. This is a satisfying, if not particularly edgy book. If you want edgy, you'll just have to find something by Crusie.

ETA: Another way you can tell you are in a Higgins novel -- the scenes set in the nursing home.
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