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 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?
*I received a free ARC of The Next Best Thing from Harlequin HQN via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
The Next Best Thing is the story about Lucy, the young widow and Ethan, her brother-in-law. Yeah, that right there is a little weird to me, but not so much that I couldn’t overlook it. Ethan is a very decent character, and Lucy has been a widow for a long time. Also, she got to know Ethan before she met Jimmy. There were some other things I had trouble with, though, so I didn’t enjoy The Next Best Thing as much as I thought I would when I read the blurb and requested the ARC. In some ways, it really made me think of A Widow for One Year by John Irving, because I kept comparing the two, especially because his widow didn’t stay buried in her grief for such a long time.
Lucy is a pretty strange character, she holds on to her grief with both hands and lets it define her completely. She has decided that love is not something she wants in her life again after Jimmy because she hurt too much when he was killed in an accident only six months after they got married. While I can understand her in some ways, in other ways she was a tad too fatalistic in my opinion, and the way she treats Ethan is pretty despicable! He is always there for her, one of her best friends, and also her bed-fellow whenever he is around. But she never wants to tell anyone about their relationship, to the point that when she decides she wants to date again, she tells him they have to stop sleeping together.
Ethan is, as I said above, pretty decent, but at the same time, I have rarely read about a character who is such a push-over! If he was a female character, I’d have no qualms calling him a Mary-Sue! I get that he wants to put other people’s needs above his own, but come on! He’s been in love with her for a long time, and he lets her call all the shots, and he never tells her that he wants more from her than the occasional hook-up.
I also thought that The Next Best Thing showed that Ethan truly is second best, not having the place he deserves for his patience and his devotion makes me really sad for him. And Lucy waffles back and forth during the whole book, never knows what she wants or what she needs, and enjoys to wallow in her grief and misery. The characters I enjoyed the most were the ‘Black Widows’ because they kept moving forward with their lives, even if they had all decided that they did not want another man in their life after their husband passed away.
The writing is really good, tough, and I’m sure The Next Best Thing will appeal to a lot of readers, it just didn’t do much for me. And since I usually enjoy Higgins’ books, I know I’ll pick up more of her books in the future. And if you don’t mind reading about a young widow who has a lot of trouble moving past her grief, and seeing the man just in front of her, you will enjoy this book, I’m sure. There are some hilarious dialog when Lucy is hanging out with her mom and aunts, and some grand, romantic gestures that touched my heart as well.
The scent of fresh bread is what heaven must smell like, comforting and homey.
I won’t be having children with Ethan, God knows. Let’s be honest. It’s not Ethan’s link to Parker – or Jimmy – that stops me from being with him. It’s the knowledge that I could really fall in love with him.