Somebody to Love
By Kristan Higgins
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?