Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins


Title: Too Good to Be True

Author: Kristan Higgins

Rating: 4 Stars

Callahan O'Shea. If you're not a pile of goo after just hearing that name, then I don't know what's wrong with you. BUT *clears throat* this review isn't about the tall, handsome, utterly charming hunk of a neighbor who just happens to be an ex-convict. (Really, who cares about the convict part when there is the tall, handsome, utterly charming hunk part to focus on?) All goofiness aside, though, Too Good to Be True is, really, almost too good to be true. For me at least. As a cross between two of my favorite movies - "27 Dresses" and "The Family Stone" - Too Good to Be True cinches the deal for me with its Lincoln-loving protagonist, Gone With the Wind references, and utterly swoon-worthy romance.

It's not very commonly known in the blogosphere, but I am obsessed with the Civil War. And Gone With the Wind. And Abraham Lincoln. As such, the protagonist of this novel, Grace, who helps re-enact Civil War battles with her father, was an immediate winner. Grace mirrors my passion for history and her tragic tale of being dumped by her fiancee for her gorgeous younger sister broke my heart and made me ever-so-thankful I had a younger brother, not sister. When Grace is dragged to a family wedding, she is forced to quickly make up a boyfriend - Wyatt Dunn, a pediatric surgeon - in order to placate her sister, Natalie, that she was truly over her ex-fiancee and soon-to-be brother-in-law, Andrew. With such a classic tale of woe, it is difficult not to sympathize with Grace within the first chapters itself. Grace is the type of person who puts her family first and is constantly a pillar for them, whether it be her relentless support of her parents marriage - that doesn't seem all-that-perfect on the outside, but just might be after all - or her generosity in housing her older sister, Margaret, as she takes a break from her boring, besotted, and routine husband, or even the very fact that she brought Natalie and Andrew together after realizing her engagement had been broken off because of Andrew's affections for Natalie. And yet, Grace is evidently not a perfect person. While she makes silly mistakes and is chock-full of flaws, all this only serves to make her an even more endearing protagonist.

It is hard not to fall for Grace, but surprisingly, it was hard not to fall for her family too. Grace paints a picture of her close friendship with Natalie - so much so that we simply cannot despise her. Natalie is genuinely distraught at having fallen for her sister ex-fiancee and she wants the best for Grace, and while she can come across as a little too pampered or perfect, we still come to like her, despite our initial bias for Grace. Margaret is the not-so-nice sister. A little like me. And yet, beneath her sarcastic front and blunt exterior, Margaret is caring and, most importantly, confused. Too Good to Be True highlights the difficulties of both finding a man and sustaining a relationship. Although Grace herself never experiences the latter, those around her from her older sister to her parents go through bad phases in their marriages and, once again, I am floored that Higgins dares to make these secondary characters such a huge part of this story. Higgins seems like the typical chick-lit writer, especially with her charming heroines, but her heavy emphasis on family and the strength of her secondary characters makes her books contain so much more depth. Too Good to Be True may not have been as funny as Catch of the Day, but it was just as satisfying at the end of the day.

If there are any complaints I seem to have with Higgins, it is that the development of her romances are so understated. And yet, this makes perfect sense as something must evidently give to make way for the depth she manages to incorporate. And, honestly, the romance in this novel is far more central than in Catch of the Day. With Grace and Callahan, these two have your laugh-out-loud kind of encounter that makes you grin like an idiot because you just know they have to be made for each other. Although their journey towards one another is sweet, the times they spend together afterward are even more poignant. I really love that Higgins writes about men and women who are sensible, who may not know exactly what they want from life but who aren't afraid to own up to their mistakes and deal with the consequences of their actions. Callahan and Grace are honest to one another, supportive, loving, and share a deeper understanding than we can initially imagine. And I love Callahan. You'd think a guy who was an ex-convict would be a classic bad boy, falling into the tropes of an arrogant jerk, but this carpenter just won my heart. Too Good to Be True is another Higgins novel I immensely enjoyed, possibly even more than my first, and I fully intend to sink deeper into Higgins's work. Believe me, this is one author I'm not letting go of so easily.

17 comments:

  1. I haven't read anything by Higgins but I do own one of her books, and the fact that you enjoy her works makes me want to read them, esp. this one! I like the sound of the two sisters (I have a younger one!) and this really appeals to me :)

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  2. Well it's nice to read your review and hum "you're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes of you" xD I can say (with shame of course) tat I haven't heard of Callagan O'Shea before. I know I'm a terrible person, but you will teach me about them ;) Anyhow this really sounds like a great summer book. I'm so glad you enjoyed and tall sexy neighbor, well who wouldn't want that? :D
    Great review Keertana :)

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  3. First time posting even though I've been a long time lurker but I have got to say I loved tthis review. Higgins is not the kind of author I would normally like but after reading your review I am definitvely going to give it a go! I love love love The Family Stone and the fact that the difrent dynamics within this family are explored as well as the different stages in relationships will make this a very interesting read, so thanks for sharing your thoughts about it :)

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  4. Um. Yeah. I'm pretty much in love with him just based on that name Keertana. If he had an Irish accent that would just be icing on the cake. Does he? I have yet to read a book my Kristan Higgins, so I really need to work on that. And I had no idea you were obsessed with the Civil War! Love when a book includes something like that I'm madly in love with, it just makes the connection to the story that much deeper.

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  5. Gone with the Wind? 27 dresses? RUNS to goodreads to add it .. :)

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  6. My heart breaks for this girl! How horrible to have your boyfriend fall for you sister! I would have a hard time liking Natalie, what kind of sister would do such a thing?!! I only hope that her romance with the hunky, gorgeous, convict far outshines hers with Andrew so I could get past my murderous feelings for the sister and ex. Wonderful review, Keertana! This is going in the TBR. :)

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  7. this was my second ever higgins book and still one of my faves <3 your review has made me want to reread (especially those callahan moments. he was delicious!)

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  8. From your review, I think it's safe to conclude that this is my favorite kind of romance. I'm all about romance these days for some reason, but summer and sun just don't go well with angst.
    Sensitive characters in laugh-out-loud situations are exactly what I need and I need to meet this Callahan.
    Off to buy a copy. Thanks, hon.

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  9. I just requested Higgins's new book and it's because of reviews like this of her work that I did it. And now I want to find this AND Catch of the Day and start those as well. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!

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  10. Callahan O'Shea?! I was a puddle of mush after the first sentence of your review, Keertana! I love how fun and sincere this story sounds, and the fact that the protagonist is realistic and full of faults like myself makes me a million times more invested. Seriously...I'm buying this one today. Thank you for such a convincing review, doll! :)

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  11. Callahan and Grace already sound like characters I can see myself investing in. The understated romance actually appeals to me quite a bit, too, as that's usually how I like my romances to be. I'm really glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! I haven't heard of this book or author before, so thanks for putting them both on my radar. Now that it's summer, I'm in a weird sort of mood, and books like this are exactly the kinds of reads I'm after. :)

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  12. This book sounds perfect for summer read! <3 Oh yeah, I'm all for tall, handsome, and charming neighbor. If only I could pluck one of them in my neighborhood. No such luck so far though. ;) Sometimes cute romance with interesting characters is all that I need, so I'll make sure to add this book to my TBR list! <3

    Such a lovely review, Keertana! <3

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  13. I suppose it's time for me to admit that I may actually enjoy reading some more fluffy adult romances (especially if they end up not being quite as fluffy as I'd imagined they would be). I've heard good things about Kristan Higgans, and I really like all the points that you brought up in your review. I cannot imagine having my fiancee and sister get married (fortunately I will never have to deal with that - my sister is just too much younger than me for that to be an option!). But wow. What a crazy premise. Wonderful review, Keertana. I think I'll need to do a bit of research into Higgins' backlog. :)

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  14. This sounds a bit like the film The Wedding Date w/ Deborah Messing and Dermot Mulroney, have you seen that, K? Great little Rom. Com. And I LOVE The Family Stone! That movie cracks me up and makes me cry all at once:)

    So four stars for this Adult Cont. work? THAT in itself is HIGH praise! This book sounds awesome. Love that the family plays such a big role (it does in The Wedding Date too) so I am definitely adding this one to my TBR. I know this author is a popular one but I haven't read anything by her yet. Fab review!

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  15. I need some laugh-out-loud + poignant romances in my life. You keep raving about Higgins and this one sounds great too! I need to meet this convict, I think ;). Love that this author's books have depth and family inserted within the love story.

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  16. I'm glad to hear that this holds up to Catch of the Day, because that's one of my favorites of Higgins. I'm still making my way through her backlist, but I haven't read this one yet. I should change that soon.

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