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The first of Higgins’ books with recurring characters is follow-up to two others, one of which is my highest rated book by her (Catch of The Day) and one of which I couldn’t finish (The Next Best Thing).) Somebody To Love doesn’t hit either of these extremes. It’s very readable and has its share of humor and romance, but compared to some of Higgins’ other work, it was a little lacking.

Parker (who had a child with the hero of The Next Best Thing) is hit with a bombshell: her father has been arrested for insider trading, and her home and trust fund are gone.  Since Parker donates the money she earns from writing gawdawful children’s books to charity, all she has left is a home in Maine that she’s never seen.  While her son is vacationing with his father, Parker sets out to renovate and sell the wreck of a house, which is in the friendly town of Gideon’s Cove (home of Maggie and Malone from Catch of the Day.) Help comes in the form of her father’s lawyer James, known to Parker (incessantly) as “Thing One.”  The nickname is, we will learn, a way of distancing herself from some uncomfortable history and jealousy.

Parker seemed very sensible and likable in The Next Best Thing, so I was disappointed to find her an inconsistent and occasionally obnoxious character. Sometimes she’s an upper crust ice princess, other times she’s a fluffy chicklit nitwit, and the most essential aspect of her character in terms of the plot is that she’s very, very good at holding a grudge.  James, a warm and generous man who hides a lot of pain behind a facade of success,  is much more appealing; if he has a flaw it’s that he puts up with too much crap from Parker.

Somebody To Love runs a lot on repeated themes.  Some of these are funny, like the ludicrous children’s books Parker writes in her head when upsetting things happen to her: “Once upon a time, there was a baby shark named Swimmy. He asked his mommy, ‘Does God still love me, even though I eat the other fishies?’ and his mommy said, ‘Who cares?’ and ate him and Swimmy was delicious.”  I also enjoyed the frequent internal visitations of her disgustingly cheerful book characters, The Holy Rollers, as in this scene in which Malone has just publicly proposed to Maggie:

“‘Oh! We have the warm fuzzles!’ the Holy Rollers crowed.

‘You sicken me,’ Parker thought.”

As the book goes on, the imagined Holy Rollers get older and more cynical; one becomes a hoodlum and offers relationship advice while stubbing out cigarettes on his palm.  This was fun, but other repetitions, like “Thing One” and the references to “Lady Land” — a catch-all phrase for Parker’s tingly bits — got pretty old.

Overall, it was an entertaining book, without having much bite or depth. I felt like Higgins was playing it safe in this one — though considering I DNF’d her most challenging book, I can hardly blame her.  I gave it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars — which seems to be my standard “likable, better than average, contemporary romance” grade — and you can buy it here.  My thanks to netGalley for providing the e-arc.