[color-box]The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins
Harlequin (27 Aug 2013), Ebook: 400 pages, Contemporary Romance
Website Goodreads Amazon UK / US

Rating: 3halfstars[/color-box]

17348290Lucy Lang’s life is not going to plan. Rocked by the death of her beloved husband Jimmy, she’s veered off the fast track to a promising career as a patissiere and fallen into the bosom of her boisterous mother and aunts- all widows themselves. Baking bread for her family’s business isn’t much of a life, but at least it fits in with Lucy’s erratic sleep schedule – a bi-product of her grief.

Ethan Mirabelli was the only person Lucy could bare to be around after the accident. As Jimmy’s younger brother, he understood her pain and always seemed to know the right things to do and say. Now, years later, she’s looking for another shot at having a family –all she has to do is stop sleeping with Ethan and find a husband.  She’s looking for someone decent, who’s not too good looking and who she won’t fall in love with. After all, who could compete with Jimmy in her heart?

The Next Best Thing is less of a romance than many of Higgins’ other works. It’s more about a woman picking up the pieces of her life after suffering an awful tragedy. She’s sick of being pitied, but with a mile long list of neuroses, it’s easy to understand why her family and friends treat her with kid gloves.

As always, I enjoyed Higgins’ trademark animal sidekick. Fat Mikey didn’t have much to do with the narrative, but I liked his grumpy personality and the fact that he had been a gift from Ethan.

I loved that Lucy was a baker – I’m a baker myself, and I always love a heroine I can relate to. Word to the wise though; putting a hot loaf in a bread slicer is a recipe for disaster (Silly Lucy). For a similar reason – familiarity – I so enjoyed Higgins’ description of what I like to call Italian-isms. I could picture my own Nonno every time she mentions ‘Italian sign language’.

He sighs, looks at the floor and folds his arms, Italian sign language for we got a situation here.

Higgins seems to have quite a knack for creating believable and heart-warming family dynamics in her work, and The Next Best Thing is no different. As with her earlier book Just One of the Guys, ethnicity has a lot to do with this. Readers are given a taste of both an Italian and a Hungarian family, and it’s clear to see that both cultures have a predilection with family – something the author shares.

The only problem I had with this story would be that it seemed overly drawn out in the middle. I could have done with a less lengthy depiction of Lucy’s angst, and to the same effect. Admittedly, this may be by design – allowing for a more believable epiphany moment at the end.


The Next Best Thing wasn’t my favorite Kristan Higgins book. I’d advise starting on one of her other books – perhaps The Best Man or Too Good to Be True. Although I did enjoy this book, I’d hate readers to judge the entirety of Higgins’ work on this sample and not read her others.


Carrie is hopelessly addicted to reading. During the day, she divides her time between Uni – a BA of Editing/Publishing – and a part-time job as a Sales Assistant. [Carrie no longer reviews for the site]


Gemma August 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

I keep getting Higgens books as a recomendation via amazon, but am unfamiliar with her work. Reading your review, I may just take the plunge and read one. Great review!!


Laura August 31, 2013 at 8:20 am

I’ve never read any of Higgins works before, I have to confess I’ve not actually heard of her. But judging by your review you’re a long term fan. How was the romance with the heroine ending up with her husband’s brother? Was that ok and not icky at all? That might something that would put me off?


Carrie August 31, 2013 at 10:33 am

It wasn’t too bad – Higgins confronts the ickiness head on. Having said that, if you’re going to start reading her books, I’d start with The Best Man.


Sarah September 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I agree with Carrie, I loved The Best Man. Nice read though with some good lines, scenes and set-ups.


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