Title: The Next Best Thing
Author: Kristan Higgins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Source: Review copy from publisher
“Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...
She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important... someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges" and hello to a man she can marry.
Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?”
Lucy (Lang) Mirabelli has been a widow for over five years and just recently became aunt to a beautiful baby girl, a baby that has awaken in her the need to have the family she dreamed about, dream that ended with the tragic lost of her husband Jimmy after only eight months of marriage.
Now with the idea of a family in mind Lucy needs to find a nice and decent man, but one she will never come to love; she doesn’t want to fall in love, she wants to protect her heart because she doesn’t want to experience the same pain she experienced after Jimmy’s death.
The first thing Lucy needs to do before finding a husband is to end the “friends with benefits” relationship she has with Ethan Mirabelli, she only hopes they would be able to continue being friends. Ethan is not only her best friend but since Jimmy’s death he has also been her rock.
Since the moment he met her in culinary school Ethan has been in love with Lucy, but the hope of one day getting the girl of his dreams ended when she fell in love with his older brother. From then on he has respected her and has been satisfied with only being her friend.
When Jimmy died Lucy and Ethan found solace in each other arms and after couple of years of mutual mourning one night things let to another and their relationship changed to one of friends with benefits.
Now that Lucy is ready to move on Ethan wants to be the man she moves on with, but Lucy is oblivious of Ethan’s feelings and her own feelings towards him; at least she was, until the day he is not there for her and she realizes the importance he has in her life. The problem is that being with Ethan won’t be easy, first, it’s a given that she will fall in love with him, she’s more than half in love with him already, but that is not all, she’s also very concern of what people will think and say about her falling in love and marrying the brother of her deceased husband.
First I need to say I didn’t know the edition I was reading of The Next Best Thing was a re-release; I realized it while reading it because I knew Ethan and Lucy from another book I had read (and loved) a while back, Somebody to Love. In Somebody to Love they were already a married couple so I guessed this book must be a prequel to Somebody to Love and after some searching I learned I was right. I’m not saying this deterred my enjoyment of the book, because that was not the case; I’m just clearing that out for readers that may have already read Somebody to Love.
Even though I really liked The Next Best Thing I have to say that I had a problem with it and my problem has a name, Lucy. Lucy was a very difficult to like character because she was her own worst enemy. She sabotaged her happiness one too many times, so much that it was painful to watch. I understand that she loved her husband and she missed him everyday, but she idolized the image/memory she had of him and for her nobody could come close to her “too perfect to be true Jimmy”.
I cannot imagine what it must be something like losing your husband, I really don’t want to even considering the possibility; but in Lucy’s case it was not something new, five years have passed, many more years than the time they spend together and still she’s trapped in the past. There was a clear and happy future in her horizon and she couldn’t see it. More than once I just wanted to shake her to see if she reacted, I was thinking over and over the saying “None more blind than he who doesn't want to see” because it applied to her hundred percent.
Ethan and the secondary characters saved the book for me. Ethan is a sweet, caring, and generous guy. He has loved Lucy for years and has been completely selfless in that regard. I couldn’t like him or admire him more.
Ethan is also a single parent and seeing him interact with his kid was a joyful experience. I also loved how he handled Lucy’s mom and aunts; he was just perfect.
As I said before the secondary characters were great, from Lucy’s mom and aunts known as the Black Widows and their entertaining banter to Parker (Ethan’s son’s mother) and her no-nonsense kind of way; they all made of The Next Best Thing a more enjoyable read.
I recommend The Next Best Thing to fans of Mrs. Higgins and to anyone who want to read a funny, emotional and entertaining book, one that will leave you with a smile on your face.
I recommend you to read Somebody to Love after reading The Next Best Thing.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
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