Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

Tags: contemporary romance, humor, veterinarians, Vermont


Callie Gray knows that she should’ve gotten over first kiss, boss one-time fling, and love of her life Mark years ago. Yet when Mark gets engaged to a woman who is everything she’s not, Callie finally decides to attempt to move on. Unfortunately, in their sleepy Vermont town, there aren’t that many candidates. The most eligible bachelor, the new vet, Dr. Ian McFarland, is antisocial and seems to have a stick up his bum. And yet Ian is precisely who Callie keeps on running into. As their paths continue to cross, Callie begins to wonder if she may actually be able to love Ian after all…


The problem with reading my first two Kristan Higgins novels back to back is that, the second time around, the formula becomes glaringly, embarrassingly obvious. In one breath, here are the characteristics that, after reading just two of her books, I suspect hold throughout all her novels: a theoretically smart female MC (often a middle child with an unusual interest or hobby) with a bad history in men and who turns into idiots around men, a quirky family, a cantankerous grandparent, an over-hyper and disobedient canine pet who gets talked to in frighteningly embarrassing babytalk, eCommitment and horrible blind online dates, a gay best friend… I guess I’ll stop here for now (although I’ll just say: seriously, a requisite gay best friend? Isn’t that so 1990s?).

Furthermore, the plot progresses at pretty much the same “ratio”: for example, the requisite lovers’ misunderstanding occurs at around 85% of the way through the novel. GAH. I don’t know whether I should laugh at the unapologetic adherence to a formula, or cry a little.

Now, I understand that this is romance and that bestselling romance often follows a formula that everyone knows yet still loves. And yep, that’s pretty much the case here. This is classic Higgins (if one who has only read two of her books is allowed to reach such a conclusion after having just dissected her formula in a disconcertingly easy way). Callie is likable (and has the requisite quirky hobby!), and her awkwardness/stupidity around men is still infuriating yet relatable. Zany humor abounds in conversations. The dog is still annoying.

But Ian. Oh, Ian. He totally makes this book. Think a blond, Slavic version of Mr. Darcy, with a reticence slightly reminiscent of Asperger’s but with puppy-like loyalty that is hard to earn but oh so worth it. Shy guys! Stories these days are overflowing with guys who know they’re good-looking and know how to say just the right thing to get what they want. Ian, however, has NO CLUE what he’s doing most of the time, as far as relationships go, which makes his rare right actions all the more genuine and truly endearing. We need more Ians in stories, that’s for sure.

It’s probably going to be hard for me to pick a favorite Higgins romance, because they all follow pretty much the same formula, and yet are all so much fun to read. Hopefully this review will push you in the right direction and encourage you to pick up a book by Kristin Higgins! And if you already have, well, let’s just giggle and gaggle and gossip together over which Higgins man we’d like to have for ourselves…

HQN Books / July 27, 2010 / Mass Market Paperback / 384pp. / $7.99

Personal copy.


  1. So all of Higgins' books have the same formula? Hmm. That makes me a little more hesitant to pick them up. But hey, if the love interest ISN'T perfect, why not?

  2. I've never read a Higgins book, so maybe I'll start with this one. I absolutely love the sound of Ian. Sounds like a refreshing dose of man candy :)

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  3. More Ians in stories! Huzzah!!

    This was my first Higgins book and I just love it to pieces. You're completely right about the formula and the zany and the annoying dogs. But, man, they're fun.

  4. I've only read two Higgins novels but I agree with what you said about her formula. Still, they're fun books to read when you're in the mood for something light.

  5. I've read all (I think) Higgins novels and I agree with the formula only as far as the pace goes. And the intelligent heroine, and a family to belong to. The rest... not so much.

    Higgins novels have humor and I adore how well drawn the characters are. There aren't evil guys properly speaking, but those with evil intentions get their come uppance (hurrah!).

    I liked better My one and Only (a couple long divorced who are thrown together in a road trip and think over what went wrong when they loved each other so much), Just one of the Guys (a younger girl with 4 older brothers and a life long mega crush on a family friend), and Fools rush In (a younger sister who gets ready to seduce a guy she's been lusting after since high school, only to fall in love with... wow, I won't tell you).

    I didn't like so much All I ever wanted (Callie was too quirky for my taste), Next best thing (too sad), Catch of the day (Malone is a lot like Ian), and Too Good to be True, though they weren't bad at all.

    I suggest you give Higgins books a second chance. In today's landscape of romance she's more original than other bestselling authors, and I think that's unusual.

  6. Ahhh you've read another Higgins book! I've started my second one! I've seen a few Higgins here and there on my blogger radar and I had forgotten what it was like to read her funny swoony characters, so I picked up My One and Only. I really needed something light (with kissing and tension in it) and so far, the tension is there, although I'm not quite sure I'm a big fan of the MC just yet.

    But the swoony man has gypsy eyes. GYPSY EYES, Steph. I don't know what it is about boys with dark eyes (that apparently like to darken when they're angry or like, smoldering?) but I just LOVE them.

  7. "The problem with reading my first two Kristan Higgins novels back to back is that, the second time around, the formula becomes glaringly, embarrassingly obvious"

    Yes, I totally agree with you on that! I decided to read Kristan Higgins' books in a row and it gets tiring after the second book. Would still pick up Jennifer Crusie or Julie James for a pick-me-up.


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