She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbecue, 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?
Published August 27th 2013 by Harlequin HQN
eArc received from publisher via NetGalley
Where to find The Next Best Thing:
Where to find Kristan Higgins:
So if you are looking for a romantic comedy with a smidge of sadness in it, this may just be the book for you. Our main character, Lucy, who has been widowed for 5 years has decided that it may be time to start looking for a mate. The problem is that she has this obnoxious list of characteristics that is so incredibly depressing and nearly impossible to acquire that she's left with multiple less than stellar options...unless you count Ethan (which she doesn't want to do!).
Yes, this is definitely one of those stories where it is obvious in space who she should be with, but she is so afraid of repeating any sort of heartbreak she goes out on painful dates with all sorts of suitors who are wrong for her. Though, really in a way, who could blame her. When you think you've found the love of your life and he dies...as well as all the men in her family where the men in town think you're cursed to kill them off, well....it's hard to get back on that horse!
Lucy and her aunts and many of the multiple other minor characters provide many humorous quips and moments through the duration of the novel and makes Lucy's hunt for the next husband funnier than her bland list would suggest. You see, Lucy and her mom and aunts have all buried their husbands and are fondly known in their small town as the 'black widows'. They all own and work together in a bakery and are so wrapped up in each others' lives that they have kind of stagnated in the stories they've all created for themselves. Because of this Lucy is hesitant to speak her mind or break out of her 'story' and it prohibits her from making healthy relationship choices....like giving Ethan a chance. Of course the fact that he's her dead husband's brother also makes any future relationship a little unusual and awkward. But, even more than that I think Lucy is afraid of what others will think and whether or not her heart can survive a relationship with him.
Yes, the joys of opinionated family members! And these Hungarian women are damned opinionated! They cracked me up though...the three older Blacked Widow's are so set in their ways that they have a hard time accepting change..and by hard time I mean not at all. So they don't take too well to Lucy's ideas of expanding their business or that she is getting the business from a man when she should just be happy as a widow for the rest of her life like them. It is really hard for Lucy to sort through all the emotions that she has spent a really long time avoiding after her husband's death...and as long as her list is for potential husband picking, her list as to why she can't give Ethan the chance he deserves is equally as long!
Lucy's in laws (aka Ethan's parents), Grinelda, Corrine, Parker, and Ash...along with many other secondary characters provide many colorful and sometimes frustrating moments in the on again off again relationship of Ethan and Lucy. I love that Parker calls it like she sees it--she may be one of my favorite characters in the book! I also love all of the food descriptions--I think I gained about ten pounds just reading about all of the food!
I heart Parker also. But mostly I loved Ethan. He put up with sooooo much insanity from Lucy and was an incredibly genuine guy. His awesomeness with his son Nicky and how he was so good to Lucy after all that time when he was grieving his brother as well made me swoon. I really liked him a lot!
If you are looking for a clean, romantic comedy...try this one! Yep! We liked this one! And can say now that I've read two of Kristan's books that her heartwarming stories are worth the time and shenanigans that are a given in her stories!
Shelley: 3 Stars
Courtney: 4 Stars