by Kristan Higgins
Published February 1st 2010 by Hqn
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 barbeque, 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?
Lucy Mirabella was widowed 5 1/2 years ago at the age of 25. Her husband's death devastated her and she's unwilling to go through that kind of pain again. Her solution is to find someone that she can like, raise a family and move on again. The person can never be her one true love again because she doesn't think she could survive it.
Lucy is surrounded by lots of family who are committed to keeping her grieving. Her aunts and her mother, known as the Black Widows (maiden name is Black and they were all widowed young), think Lucy is following their tradition and should be committed to staying single and martyred. Her in-laws want her to keep their favored son enshrined for the rest of her life. Thank goodness for her friend Parker who brings some balance to the mix, encouraging Lucy to live full out. Lastly, there's Jimmy's younger brother, Ethan, who's stood by her and been her best friend throughout.
I liked this story, full of humor, quirky characters and Lucy's angst as she struggles to release the shackles of the hurtful loss of her husband and those around her who would keep her crippled. She knows she needs to move on and has come up with her own scheme for how to do it, in spite of her family. Ethan is an extremely appealing character, who unknown to Lucy (because she's deaf, dumb and blind to it!) has always loved her. He gives her to space to get where she needs to be, even at his own expense. Some may find Lucy terribly frustrating but her journey is realistic, especially when you factor in the lovable nuts around her.
I enjoyed each character and what they added to the story, no matter that they sometimes drove me crazy. It's well written and I found it hard to put the book down.
(FYI - Higgins' new book, Somebody to Love, is a sequel to this story.)
The Next Best Thing is available at: