Thursday, December 31, 2015

#GuestReview Anything for You by @Kristan_Higgins Review by @virg_nelson @HarlequinBooks

Anything for You (Blue Heron #5)
Kristan Higgins
Releases 12/29/2015
ISBN: 9780373789085

Before you get down on bended knee… 

…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it's the perfect time to get married.

When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her.

But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks…

Kristan Higgins never fails to tell a fresh story, as proved by the interesting beginnings to her novels. In the long-awaited tale of Connor O’Rourke, (twin of Colleen, who we met in Waiting on You) she begins with Connor getting his proposal of marriage denied rather bluntly. To say that Jessica Dunn is not a likeable heroine in that first chapter is an understatement—she utterly shatters the hero, Connor. At this point, I paused in my reading (an accomplishment, as I gobble down Higgins’ books like they’re candy) and wondered… how is she going to do it? How is she going to make me like this woman who walked coldly away from a man who clearly loves her so very much?

She manages this with a shockingly pleasing combination of flashbacks and flash forwards, a technique I’m not usually fond of, but it really works in this piece. Once we get a good look at the whole relationship, the line between good guy and bad guy blurs to the point of being invisible. Soon, I found myself rooting for them to work it out because, although they were human and both made their mistakes, they clearly needed one another in a way that no other would ever quite fit.

As with most of the books in the Blue Heron, (and a lot of her books, in general) the cast of secondary characters planted me comfortably back in the middle of small town life. From the familiar and beloved Holland family to the newly introduced Dunn family, each seemed like people you’d meet and known in your day-to-day life. Higgins did an especially good job with Jessica’s little brother—Davey—in presenting a realistic kid with special needs. As a parent of special needs kiddos, I can vouch for the fact they can drive you to distraction. Surviving meltdowns and so many doctor visits can leave a parent or caregiver worn down, tired, and not sure how they’re going to make it to tomorrow.

With Jessica being so young when she took on this burden, it isn’t surprising to see her have hollowed out moments when she’s not sure what to do next or if she’s mucking it all up, yet Higgins found the joyful moments, too. The fact that kids who see things in a different way share that unique view with their loved ones—tiny snippets of slowing things down and enjoying the truly little moments. The love for this sister had for her brother was heartrending and exceptionally well-written.

As to the romance? Sizzling. It is clear from very early on that Connor and Jessica share a fiery hot connection and that their friendship never took a back burner to that passion really cemented their bond for me as a reader. Connor is what we’d all like to find in a man—solid, sexy, smart, the heart of a marshmallow hidden in a gruff manly exterior, kind, and all in all just a GOOD guy. I fell madly and deeply in love with him and ugly cried when Connor said, “You’re gonna do great, sister mine.” I won’t spoil the scene as to why he said that to Colleen, but that scene… in Connor’s work kitchen? 

Yeah, I bawled.

But that is the magic of a Higgins book. She’s never let me down. I laugh out loud. I bawl the kind of cleansing tears that actually make you feel better after they’re shed. I look at the whole world with a little bit of hope that maybe there is good out there.

We live in a dark and scary time, full of things that are upsetting and waken all those dark creeping thoughts in our minds and imaginations. This book, as with many of her stories, managed to bring light and a little bit of joy to me. I highly, highly recommend this book to those who like happy endings. To those who like falling in love. And to those who maybe need to be reminded that it isn’t where you come from, it is all about where you’re going and who you pick to make the trip with.

Simply said, I loved this book and I think you might, too.  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

#ChristmasTreats Giveaway Hop!

What are our favorite Christmas Treats? Books, of course! Stop by each blog for a chance to win fabulous books & gifties for the Holidays!

Hmmm, Books are always my favorite Christmas treat, and this year I'll be reading on my new Kindle Voyage, yay for 8 year wedding anniversary that falls in December! As far as books I'm looking forward to, I'm going to say any and all Christmas themed romances I can get my hands on. I have been devouring them for the last two months, I binge read them while watching sappy Hallmark Christmas movies.

But I admit that I'm really looking forward to My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis in the new year. So while I wait, tell me about what books you're looking forward to. I'll pick a winner and send along a $5 Amazon gift card to help with that dream book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway