willaful's Reviews > Until There Was You

Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins
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Higgin’s books are often considered more chicklit than romance, with the lack of hero point-of-view cited as the reason they may seem insufficiently romantic. In Until There Was You, she departs from her usual first person style to give us both points of view -- yet ironically, though it’s a good read in many ways, it’s the least convincing romance by her I’ve ever read. Possibly one of the least convincing romances I’ve ever read.

Once upon a time, the school bad boy married the school good girl and they moved away to live happily ever after… leaving Posey, the school flat-chested girl, brokenhearted. But happy ever after was ruined by death, and now Liam is back in town, a widower with a fifteen year old daughter -- and still the hottest guy Posey’s ever seen. Ludicrously overprotective and anxious about his daughter, Liam finds that being with Posey is unexpectedly comfortable and relaxing

First the good. As always, it’s funny. Depictions of Posey’s difficult adolescence brought tears to my eyes. And though I think the casual feel of Higgin’s writing works better in first person, getting Liam’s perspective is helpful, at least at first -- knowing that he has a lot on his mind makes it more forgivable that he pretty much ignores Posey for the first third of the book.

There’s often a serious edge underlying Higgins' lighthearted books, and there’s plenty here. On Posey’s side, there are issues over her adoption: greatly loved, she nonetheless feels something of an outsider in her family, and worries that her parents wish she was more like her cousin, a strapping German beauty who looks just like Posey’s mom. This aspect of the book is well-drawn, with tenderness and realism. (Posey’s brother was also adopted, and plans to adopt a child with his male spouse, so there’s a very balanced view of the topic.) And I thought it interesting to have a hero with severe anxiety -- it’s not a sexy disorder. Liam’s over-the-top protective dad act gets annoying though, and I can’t believe that in real life his daughter wouldn’t seriously rebel against his almost psychotic behavior.

I enjoyed the details of Posey’s work in architectural salvage. It’s more of a mission to her than a job, making sure things that were left behind are cherished and loved: “Something that had life in it yet, even if it was slightly damaged, or broken. Something that might find new meaning, new beauty, if given the right home.” How’s that for a metaphor? And this attitude of Posey’s is healing for Liam, who had never felt good enough for his wife or his daughter.

So -- what goes wrong? Part of it is Posey: her incessant mental squeeings over Liam reduce her feelings to an adolescent crush. And I found it unsatisfying that Liam so easily gets anything he wants; Posey barely seems to hold a grudge for something extremely hurtful he once did, (view spoiler) and after a little initial resistance, which is probably what gets his attention, she throws herself at him at every turn. He always gets to be the one running the show.

But the nail in the romance coffin for me was that Liam’s feelings for her never seem like more than a mild affection, that will never be as powerful as his love for his first wife. A grand, classically ridiculous romantic gesture by him at the end can’t make up for that.

Considering that Until There Was You made me laugh and cry, I can’t give it less than three stars. But if you’re mostly looking for strong romance, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.

(E-arc provided for review by netGalley.)
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Reading Progress

08/30/2011 page 10
3.0% "*Hated* the heroine's favorite curse in the last book. "Oh... bieber" is a vast improvement."
08/31/2011 page 75
20.0% "This backstory reminds me of "Carrie," though hopefully is not going in the same direction!"
09/01/2011 page 384
100.0% "Aw man! This was a good read in many ways, but one of the worst *romances* I've read. :-(" 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Splage Great review! It makes me want to read it just so I can see all of your points you described so well, but I do struggle to get into this author sometimes too.

Dinjolina I loved your nail in the coffin bit.
I kind of wanted more for this heroine. Also Were you bugged by the fact that his wife was more like...lukewarm toward him? And he still kisses her pearls at the very end before he goes after Posey?
Plus, he gave up the heroine so many times I was perfectly sure that he just did not care.
(And I still am.)
If I was the in her shoes I would never settle for him.

willaful Splage wrote: "Great review! It makes me want to read it just so I can see all of your points you described so well, but I do struggle to get into this author sometimes too."

Thanks! Yeah, often a less than positive review makes me more interested in the book than a rave, especially a very vague rave. I did find it very readable and hard to put down.

message 4: by Jac (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jac (For Love and Books) I could not agree more. There was so much I loved about this book, but the romance. I even liked Liam, just not with Posey...

Splage Really good review! You hit a lot of points I just couldn't transfer to my writing. This book really confused me and my thoughts. I really liked it, but it made me feel really bad at times- that bothered me.

Dinjolina The way the hero treated the heroine was just wrong. I wanted him tu suffer a revelation. At least a small one.

♥Aicha~high~on~books♥ great review willaful!

Wicked Incognito Now I agree with your review wholehearted, but I gave it five stars! I suppose I rounded up because I'm in a Kristan Higgins glom right now, and I just can't seem to get enough of her. She rounds out her characters and supporting cast so well that these novels stand out head and shoulders above the other contemporary romances for me.

Still, Liam is too much of a perfect guy. He doesn't have to work for Posey at all. I'm deeply unsatisfied by his lack of effort for this relationship, but I do love the double POVs.

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