Reviewed: May 1, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: N/A (Non-Series)
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 382 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge through the Amazon.com Vine program for the purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments, and ratings are my own.
What happens if you meet The One, that one person you know you'll love for the rest of your life, your other half, your soul mate...and you're not ready? You can't handle it, for whatever reason? You're not sure you even want it? Harper James met N ick Lowery when she was in college. He walked up to her at a bar on her twentieth birthday and informed her she was his future wife, the future mother of his children, and then set his mind to convincing her that he was right. The damnable misery of it all was that she loved him more than life, needed him more than air, and was so terrified of commitment and all that it represented, so emotionally crippled by her abandonment issues, that love wasn't nearly enough. Their marriage didn't last a year.
The pain of that failure lasted far, far longer.
Now on the cusp of her thirty-fourth birthday, Harper is a successful divorce lawyer on Martha's Vineyard. Apropos, really, given her cynicism about the institution in general and love in particular. She's in the process of popping the question to her boyfriend of two and a half years when a phone call from her younger sister shakes Harper down to her foundations. Willa getting married for the third time is bad enough, but it's the fact that she's marrying Nick's half-brother that really rips her guts out. She'll be seeing Nick again at the wedding.
As Harper gets closer and closer to the age her mother Linda was when she abandoned Harper and her father, and she sees Nick again after all those years apart, Harper starts to realize that a volcano of terrifying emotions and conflicting motivations is erupting in her. And love is the mother of all of them. If she's not very careful it will flow over her heart and soul and leave nothing but scorched real estate where her life used to be.
Nick has always been her greatest weakness, and maybe, just maybe there are such a things as second chances and new beginnings. If Harper can just believe.
Powerfully written with a flowing, descriptive narrative and three dimensional characters, My One and Only evokes a lot of emotion as it tells the tale of Harper James and her rocky past with the only man she's ever loved. Told in first person perspective from Harper's point of view, Higgins drops you into her lead character's head and wrings you dry as she details in sometimes brutal clarity Harper's fears, flaws, and foibles on her twisted path to happiness.
Nick was a great guy with his own flaws, but far more appealing a character, as at his core he was a simple man who fell in love, recognized it for what it was, and lost it before his wisdom caught up with his talent and intelligence. Some of his quiet admissions and honest emotional expression to Harper just killed me. It was heartbreaking, really, just how awful their relationship ended when they loved each other so much - if maybe not always smartly or carefully.
Unfortunately, despite the artistry of the writing and the well developed plot that evolved in a slow, steady, realistic fashion, I found Harper's persistent cynicism, negativity, and smug certainty to be largely unsympathetic and difficult to like. I can completely sympathize with the thirteen-year-old who lost her mother on her birthday, who took a scared stepsister under her wing and mothered her. I have no sympathy at all for the thirty-three year old woman who proposes to her Peter Pan complex-having mutton head boyfriend because she doesn't love him enough to scare her, with a list in hand of things she plans to have him agree to do before they wed. And I have difficulty respecting a character who is so terrified of being left by someone she loves she closes herself off from everyone and would rather break hearts than work things out maturely.
Reading about the stuff going on in Harper's head, finding out her past with Nick and how it all got wrecked, disturbed me. It was all just so tragic and sad, so understandable, so easy to see the reasons, and so frustrating because she never did anything about the reasons, just ran from the results. Even knowing that as a romance there would be some HEA in this book, there was just too much of Harper that depressed me. I wasn't able to love the story as much as the excellent writing, solid plot, loveable secondary and ancillary characters (including Coco), and romantic leading man would normally dictate.
I loved the end, though. Truly did. It was a little easy to see coming, and a few of the character confrontations with Harper were a little cliched, but I did enjoy it. I just wish the resolution and Harper's evolution had started a lot earlier in the book, some self awareness coming a bit sooner. As it is, it's a book that I think is very well written, but for my tastes, the heroine is too depressing to be thoroughly entertaining. I will say this, though, I admired and appreciated the style of writing to such a degree that I'll be looking for other books from Kristan Higgins in hopes of finding one with a little less emotionally stunted main character.
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