Just One of the Guys by Kirstan Higgins
Genre: Adult Contemporary romance
Published: August 21st 2012 by Harlequin HQN (first published October 7th 2007)
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Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be...So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1--she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2--she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.
While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over--although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.
Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys...
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Okay, I'm going to tell you why Just One of the Guys is not only one of my new favorite Higgins books, but one of my new favorite romances period.
1. The heroine is different. She's not super feminine in her character, but she's definitely feminine in her desires and her passion and her attitude. Growing up with four older brothers, Chastity Virginia (yeah, that's her name. I know, right?) yells when she's mad, throws punches with intent, and won trophies in college for rowing. She's a quarter inch away from being six feet tall, and she's got man-shoulders. She runs 10-mile races up hills for kicks. But she's thirty, she wants her passion to be returned, and her body is telling her that she should have already made at least three babies by now. I mean, how many romance novels do you read with female protagonists like that? most of the time they're young, innocent, unable to take care of themselves, and feminine. Chastity is not the typical female protagonist ... and that's one of the reasons I like her so much.
2. Like any good novel, there are a few sub-plots running through this novel; one is the failing marriage of one of Chastity's brothers, named Mark. He and his wife are going through hell (and possibly divorce and child custody problems) but they still love each other. There is this chapter (chapter 22--it's seared into my head) that made me cry because it was so amazing. See, Chastity babysat for Mark's soon-to-be-ex-wife, and she didn't tell him. When he found out, he blew up at her. Then later when he apologized they started talking, and he opened up to her about how badly he wants to make things right. she gave him a little advice and they had a sob-fest and in the end it worked out so perfectly. But the thing that got me was that so many stories I've read with failing relationships are about trying to get over the person, instead of reconciling. It was beautiful and inspiring and I read the chapter 3 times because I loved it so much.
3. Another one of those sub-plots was the relationship between Chastity’s parents. They’re officially divorced, but they still hang out all the time for dinner, they still love each other, and her dad just assumes her mom will wait around for him to retire. But that isn’t the case. Her mom starts dating again and throws everyone for a loop. Then when she gets into a serious relationship, shit really hits the fan. I was surprised by the outcome. I won’t say what it was for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free. But I will say that it was different. It wasn’t the same-old same-old over again. Suffice to say, this book was the opposite of Happyland-syndrome.
4. The romance between Chastity and Trevor was so epic. I’m not going to say anything else about it because I don’t want to risk spoiling it. It has to be read in order. You can’t know anything out of order. But trust me, it was epic and wonderful and powerful and perfect and beautiful.
Like all of Higgins's books, the writing is fun, easy to read, relaxed, and a little snarky. This one was a little awkward because some of it was written in a different tense than what she does now, but it's one of her earlier books, and I can't hold that against her.
Anyway, you should go get this book. Amazon, B&N, Paperbackswap, your local book store, etc. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Content/recommendation: Some language, mention of sex (but nothing explicit) Ages 17+