Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Review: Somebody to Love

Somebody to Love
By Kristan Higgins
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: April 3, 2012

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Parker Welles begins the day with her biggest problem finding a new idea for another series of children’s books since she’s sent the Holy Rollers, the roller skating angels whose adventures she has been writing for six years, to their eternal reward. Parker is thrilled to be finished with the Holy Rollers, a series “so sickeningly precious it made The Velveteen Rabbit look like a chapter out of Sin City.” A few hours later, the trust-fund baby who is so wealthy that she donated all her income from the Holy Rollers books and movies to Save the Children has less than  a month to clear her personal possessions out of Grayhurst, the family mansion , where she has been living with her five-year-old son, Nicky. Her father has lost her trust fund and Nicky’s along with all his own property in an attempt to cover investor losses in an insider-trading scheme gone bad. The $6000 in her personal checking account, $5000 in cash from her father, jewelry worth another couple of thousand, and a house in Gideon’s Bay, Maine, make up her total assets. (Gideon’s Bay is the setting of Catch of the Day. And, yes, Maggie and the enigmatic Malone are around planning their wedding.)

Parker’s father is headed for jail, her mother’s marriage to husband #4 is in trouble, and her son is set for a three-week vacation in California with his father. (Higgins fans will remember Ethan Mirabelli and his wife Lucy from The Next Best Thing) Parker plans to check out the house in Maine, spend a few dollars on cosmetic repairs, sell the house, and return with a nest egg that will allow her to find a place to live, care for her son, and take time to determine what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. But predictably her plans go agley. The Maine house will require a great deal more than cosmetic improvements if Parker is to sell it. In short, it’s a disaster. And Parker’s experience with do-it-yourself projects is zilch.

The situation is dire. Thank goodness for James Cahill. Cahill, commonly referred to by Parker as “Thing One,” is the personal lawyer of Harry Welles. Parker sees Cahill as just another of her father’s minions, and she has assured him that she does not need his help. But Cahill has decided to help whether she wants him to or not because he owes Harry Welles for giving him a job and because he fell for Parker the first time he saw her in the hospital shortly after the birth of her son. James has the skills Parker needs to renovate the house, and since she thinks he’s still on her father’s payroll, she accepts his help.

As they work together on the house, Parker discovers that James is very different from her perception of him. Not only is the attraction that burned between them on one occasion still very much alive, but a genuine friendship develops as well. Soon the two are engaged in what Parker persists in calling a summer fling, but feelings are too deep and Parker and James matter too much to each other for their relationship to remain a mere fling. When Nicky returns, he and James bond, after some initial resistance from Nicky, but just as an HEA seems within reach, James’ past shows up and Parker’s reluctance to trust this man seems to have been well-founded after all.

I count myself a Kristan Higgins fan, but her books see-saw between books I love unreservedly and those I love many things about but . . . Somebody to Love falls in the latter category. I was delighted to see Higgins give third person point of view a try. Also, since I enjoyed both Catch of the Day and The Next Best Thing, I was pleased by the connections. I though James was a wonderful hero, a good guy with complications whom I rooted for from the get-go. Nicky was an endearing but believable five-year-old with an imagination, a stubborn streak, and some reservations about a new man in his mother’s life. But it took me a long time to like Parker. I was glad that she recognized that with $11,000 and a house, she was better off that a sizeable segment of the population, I was pleased that she admitted her best friend being married to the father of Parker’s son was on the strange side, and I admired her commitment to her son. But I found her designation of James as Thing One spoiled princess behavior and her disdain for her characters who were vivid enough for her to converse with bothered me.  Her coy references to “Lady Land” bothered me more.  I did like her better by the book’s end, but I never found her as engaging as I found James. Still, the book has the trademark Higgins humor, a lovable pooch, the sense of real contemporary life, and more substance than some romantic comedies. I definitely recommend it, and you may like Parker more than I did. Plus I really did love the role of Mickey the Fire Engine, and the epilogue was lovely, just sweet enough to leave me smiling and sighing.

Are you a fan of romantic comedies? What are some of your favorites among books? Among movies?


Kathleen O said...

One of my fav romantic comedies that reminds me very much of the kind of books Kristan writes is "Sunday in New York". it stars Jane Fonda, and Rod Taylor... They meet on a bus when the rose on her lapel gets caught on the pocket of his suit and it is romaantic and funny from there on in... It took place in the early 60's. Another fav of mine too is Barefoot in the Park.. another Jane Fonda romantic comedy also staring Robert Redford..
That is why I love Kristan's books and also writers like Christie Ridway, Susan Elizabeth Phillis, Carly Phillips, Karen Hawkins, Susan Donavan, Rachel, Susan Andersen Gibson...There books give you both in spades.

Janga said...

Kathleen, I love Sunday in New York and Barefoot in the Park, although my favorite rom com movies were made a couple of decades earlier--It Happened One Night, The Philadelphia Story, Adam's Rib, etc.

You have some of my favorite writers on your list too.

irisheyes said...

Wow, I thought I was the only person on the planet who knew about Sunday in New York! LOL I fell in love with Rod Taylor watching that movie when I was a teen! I put it on my Xmas list last year. It's a great film, Kathleen!

I own It Happened One Night and Philadelphia Story, Janga. Cary Grant is one of my favorite romantic comedy leads. He has a perfect combination of sex appeal and humor.

Some of my favorite romantic comedy authors are SEP, Rachel Gibson, Christie Craig, Jennifer Crusie and new to my list this past year, Jane Graves.

Janga said...

Irish, Rod Taylor was so good-looking. I remember him in a Doris Day film Please Do Not Disturb too.

Terrific list of authors! I'd add Elizabeth Bevarly. I think she's written some of the best rom coms around. Some of hers have the flavor of the best screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s.

quantum said...

I'm one for the 'Golden Oldies'. I watched a DVD of Genevieve the other night and it was as fresh as when it first appeared. I guess you have to appreciate old cars to understand the thrill of the London to Brighton rally. The smell of engine oil and the feel of the wind in your hair. This film is an all time classic!

I imagine that screw-ball comedy must be very difficult to write well. I'm reading Sophie Kinsella's 'I've got your number' (actually listening to it!) at the moment. It has some similarity to the shopaholic books in that the scatterbrained heroine blunders through life getting into all sorts of scrapes. I'm starting to like her and sympathise with her predicaments now.

Kinsella brilliantly sustains the comedy throughout, mostly written in 1st person, leaving me really impressed with her humour, inventiveness and writing skill.

Higgins is on my TBR but haven't tried her yet.