Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Title:  Until There Was You

Author:  Kristan Higgins

Genre:  Chick Lit; Contemporary Romance

Published:  October 2011 – HQN Books

About:  (Pub. synopsis) Posey Osterhagen can’t complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she’s surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something’s missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking…something like Liam Murphy.

When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he’s back, sending Posey’s traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas….

My take:  Sounds like another fun Kristan Higgins novel, doesn’t it? Well, it is that and more.

Higgins’ trademark humor and sympathetic heroine-with-a-wacky-family are definitely there but, in my opinion, the true star of Until There Was You is Liam Declan Murphy.He is not your run-of-the-mill former bad boy. Liam Murphy is a complex man. He is also a widower with a teenage daughter. He’s just trying to be a good father and make a home for his daughter. I loved that Higgins revealed his layers throughout the entire novel and not in one pat description.

Posey is an ordinary young woman who wants to find what seems so easy for her brother and cousin – someone to love. She is such a relatable character that it was easy to cheer her on. What she finds is that her impression of people and events (present and past) may or may not have been accurate. That knowledge makes all the difference to Posey and her life going forward. Until There Was You  is charming and heartwarming. I really enjoyed it.

Recommended to fans of Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, and Kristan Higgins.

Source:  HQN

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Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews (audiobook)

Title:  Summer Rental

Author:  Mary Kay Andrews

Narrator:  Isabel Keating

Genre:  Chick Lit

Published:  June 2011 – Macmillan Audio

About:  (from the Goodreads synopsis) Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves in their mid-thirties and at the crossroads of life and love… A month in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is just what each of them needs.

My Take:  The first half of the book pretty much fills the reader in on each character’s background. When Dorie brings home a woman to rent one of the beach house bedrooms the story picks up. She’s on the run from her crook of a husband and needs a place to hide out. There are also sparks between Ellis and Ty, the owner of the rental house. Ty’s about to lose the house to the bank so he’s  moonlighting as a bartender and day-trading during regular hours. The rest of the time he’s trying to keep his renters happy by getting rid of bugs, you know – landlord stuff. Ellis is the one who lets him know when anything’s wrong but she has to do it via email. The email exchanges between the two were quite funny and endearing.

I really liked Isabel Keating as narrator. I’m not from the south but if the conversation between author and narrator at the end of the audiobook is any indication, she did a great job on the voices.  I learned that Keating is the only narrator of Mary Kay Andrews’ books and the author is thrilled with her performances.

So, despite my feeling that the first part of the book was a little slow, I enjoyed Summer Rental. Listening to it made me feel like I was on the beach and enjoying vacation with the characters in the novel. Recommended to fans of Mary Kay Andrews and enjoyable beach reads.

Source:  I bought it.

Slim To None by Jenny Gardiner

Title:  Slim To None

Author:  Jenny Gardiner

Genre:  Chick Lit

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) Abbie Jennings is Manhattan’s top food critic until her expanding waistline makes staying incognito at restaurants impossible. Her cover blown on Page Six of the New York Post, her editor has no choice but to bench her—and suggest she use the time off to bench-press her way back to anonymity. Abbie’s life has been built around her career, and therefore around celebrating food. Forced to drop the pounds if she wants her primo gig back, Abbie must peel back the layers of her past and confront the fears that have led to her current life.

My thoughts:  Abbie Jennings is a character after my own heart. Abbie has struggled with her weight all her life. When she’s forced to address it yet again after losing her restaurant critic job she realizes eating too much might be the least of her issues.

Jenny Gardiner gives us a character to relate to and cheer for in this breezy, entertaining, and at times emotional novel. Feeling a bit like a silent partner lately, Abbie’s loving and patient husband gives her some space and time alone to work on things. On her own Abbie deals with the challenges of a dieter as she attempts to get to the core of her issues. She also tries to figure out why she’s so reluctant to have children when her husband has wanted to start a family for a while.

A side story involving a homeless man winds through Slim To None – I thought it would make a good separate novel but here it helps to bring Abbie’s story to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended.

Source:  I bought it.

Blog Tour: The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Title:  The D Word

Authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Genre:  Chick Lit

From the book description: There are always two sides to the story, especially when it comes to divorce. Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man. In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.

My thoughtsWhat struck me first about The D Word is that Jordan and Elle made the decision to leave their relationships and then spent a lot of time second guessing themselves. Jordan thought she was moving on until Kevin, her ex, dates Elle – a woman who is Jordan’s complete opposite. She starts to wonder if maybe they could make it work after all and she certainly doesn’t want another woman taking her place in her young son’s eyes. Jordan pulls out all the stops – even dates a nice guy to make Kevin jealous.

Elle called off her wedding a month before the big day. She lost her fiancé and his sister (Elle’s best friend) in one shot. She’s just trying to move forward and concentrate on her job as a free-lance writer. Elle is covering a singles’ event at a park when she meets Kevin who just happens to be walking his dog through the park but not attending the event. They are immediately attracted to each other and start to date soon after.

Of the two women I found it easy to sympathize more with Elle. Yes she has baggage but for the most part she’s just a nicer person than Jordan who at times is like a grown up ‘mean girl’. She seems to have it all and then wants what isn’t hers anymore. Of course this gives the characters opportunity to grow throughout the novel. Without giving spoilers I was satisfied with how the authors took the two characters down that not-so-straight path of personal growth. I think fans of Chick Lit will enjoy The D Word.

Source:  BookSparks PR

About the authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been friends for over twenty years. They both  attended Cal Poly Pomona University and each graduated with a degree in Communication. They co-wrote their previous novel. I’LL HAVE WHO SHE’S HAVING, in 2009. Liz also blogs as the Drama Mama for ModernMom.com while Lisa contributes frequently to Barnes & Noble’s Unabashadly Bookish blog and Mall of America’s Fashion Sense blog. Liz is married with two children, and Lisa is married and gave birth to a daughter in January. Liz resides in Long Beach, California, while Lisa lives in Chicago.

For more information visit www.chicklitisnotdead.com or follow Liz and Lisa on Twitter www.twitter.com/lizandlisa.

I’ll Have Who She’s Having by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Title:  I’ll Have Who She’s Having

Authors:  Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Genre:  Chick Lit

My thoughts:  I’ll Have Who She’s Having is a fast-paced and entertaining tale of two sisters who are not happy with the way things are. The story is told alternately by the sisters with the occasional added perspective of a few others – this worked to flesh out more than the two main characters.

About to turn thirty-three, Kate is single and tired of listening to her friends talk about their perfect lives with their husbands and babies. Kelly, two years younger than Kate, is married with one toddler and hasn’t felt remotely attractive for a long time. She loves her husband and little girl but misses her job and interaction with adults. In other words, Kate wants what Kelly has and Kelly would love a little bit of Kate’s life.
Kelly gets Kate to take a volleyball class and then a singing class with her. That’s where the novel takes off. Without giving spoilers I’ll just say sibling rivalry, moral conflicts, and issues of insecurity are major themes that Fenton and Steinke explore as Kate and Kelly struggle to move forward in their lives.
There were times when I laughed out loud but also times when I thought “oh for pete’s sake” in disbelief of the sisters’ actions. That said, the authors did a great job giving each sister her distinct voice. I think fans of Chick Lit will enjoy I’ll Have Who She’s Having.
Source:  BookSparksPR
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Stop back next week for my review of The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke