Monday, April 6, 2009

Review: Too Good to Be True

Title: Too Good To Be True
Author: Kristan Higgins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: February 2009

*Some Mild Spoilers*

From the author's website:

Making up a boyfriend is nothing new for me. I’ll come right out and admit that. Some people go window shopping for things they could never afford. Some look at online photos of resorts they’ll never visit. Some people imagine that they meet a really nice guy when, in fact, they don’t.

The first time it happened was in sixth grade. Recess. Heather B., Heather F. and Jessica A. were standing in their little circle of popularity. They wore lip gloss and eye shadow, had cute little pocketbooks and boyfriends. Back then, going out with a boy only meant that he might acknowledge you while passing in the hall, but still, it was a status symbol, and one which I lacked, right along with the eye shadow. Heather F. was watching her man, Joey Ames, as he put a frog down his pants for reasons clear only to sixth grade boys, and talking about how she was maybe going to break up with Joey and go out with Jason...

My very first Kristan Higgins books but not my last. I've heard a bunch of good stuff about her work, she won the RITA last year for Catch of the Day. But I'm not real familiar with the RITAs or how they are chosen which is good since that's not why I read this one. Kristie from Ramblings on Romance posted a review of Too Good to Be True here and after reading her review I decide TGTBT would be my first Higgins book.

Grace is the kind of heroine you can imagine being friends with, hanging out, talking about books, movies and well... the Civil War. She's a history teacher at a private high school and is also involved in a group called Brother Against Brother. They reenact Civil War battles at various locations. Grace and her father both share this passion of reenacting and I enjoyed reading about Grace's enthusiasm while she was "in the heat of the battle". LOL I found myself laughing a lot while reading TGTBT. The dialogue, the slap-stick comedy and the situations that Grace gets herself in are all very humorous.

I don't want to give the impression that Grace was this perfect heroine and that there was nothing about her that I didn't love. In fact one of the things that bothered me the most about this book was Grace. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with her character. Like I mentioned, she was someone that I could see hanging out with but I know had she been a friend of mine she would drive me absolutely crazy and I'm sure piss me off at times. The way she let her family walk all over her drove me up the wall! The final straw was when her younger sister asked Grace to be her maid-of-honor. Which would be fine except her sister was marrying Grace's ex-fiancé who dumped her 3 weeks before the wedding. As I was reading the scene I kept thinking, "you better say no Grace, don't you dare say yes!". Of course she said yes. Damn it!

Too Good to Be True is written in 1st POV. Most contemporary romances I read are written in 3rd POV so this took a little getting use to . It also, IMO, hampered the reader from getting to know Callahan O'Shea better. He's the obvious hero of the story but maybe calling him Grace's love interest is more accurate. The story is really Grace's with Callahan almost more of a secondary character through at least the first half of the book.

Callahan was an interesting choice for a hero/love interest. Cal had been an accountant but pleaded guilty to embezzlement so his license was revoked. But it turns out that he is also very good with his hands. As is handy around the house. In fact he buys the house next door to Grace with the intent of flipping it. That is he fixes it up and then sells it for a profit. When Cal first moves in he had been released from prison two months before and was trying to get on with his life. When Grace finds out about Cal's prison record she decides to stay away from him even though she's attracted to him. Then she begins to overcome her prejudice and spend time with Cal. After getting to know Cal and hear his side of why he went to prison she stops denying her feelings for him. I did like Cal but I would have liked to get to know his character better.

Grace's family played a very fundamental role in the story. They are such a part of who Grace is. She seemed to define herself by what her role in her family was. She was the middle child so it's no surprise that she was a real people pleaser, especially when it came to her parents and two sisters. I think it was just a matter of the whole family conditioned to treat Grace they way they did and for Grace to react the way she did. I really did not like her younger sister Natalie. She was such a princess. She was kind and sweet but I still got them impression she expected to get her way. Grace's older sister Margs wasn't as bad as Natalie but she still took advantage of Grace. It was frustrating to see Grace stand up when questioned for giving a student a low grade but she wouldn't stand up to her family when they took advantage of her.

There was also Grace's best friend Julian. Now him I really liked and would have loved to see more of his character. He and Grace both decide to look for someone special and the way they went about it was so Laverne and Shirley. Loved the scenes with Julian. And I can't forget to mention Angus, Grace's oh so adorable pooch. He was so sweet and at times the only one that Grace could pour her heart out to. Everyone should have an Angus.

I did mention that this is more of Grace's book than Grace and Callahan but there is a HEA. It's just that I think of the book as Grace's journey to Cal rather than their journey together. If that makes sense. So what grade to give? It was a light and very funny read. But there were a few things that bugged me. I'm going with B+ but very close to an A-.

A list of Ms. Higgins books and excerpts can be found on her website.

Rating: B+


  1. Great review, Leslie!! :) I loved it that Grace got an act together at the end and asked Natalie not to be the maid-of-honor anymore. I think that Grace matured a lot at that point :)

    Ugh, I just wanted more of Grace and Cal together. Plus, seeing more of Julian would have been great as well :)

    Although Marg took advantage of Grace, she really understood Grace at the same time. I think there was a nice complicity between the two.

    Hope you enjoy her other books :) Personally, Catch of the Day was my least favorite ^_^;

  2. Thanks Nath! Me too about Grace telling Nat that she couldn't be maid of honor. About time. lol

    And yes to more of Grace and Cal.

  3. Oh, timely review! I got this one in the mail on Monday. It'll be my second book by Higgins. The first one was Just One of the Guys. Some of the things (good and bad) you said about Too Good to Be True reminded me of JOOTG.

    I'm looking forward to reading TGTBT.

  4. Hi Taja - I have a feeling her other books will be like this one - some parts I love, other parts, not so much. But still a fun read.