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A funny, frank and bittersweet look at sisters, marriage and moving on, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Heron series
Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny's new best friend. Needing closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, who's utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.
Rachel's idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers what looks like her husband's infidelity. She always thought she'd walk away in this situation but now she's wavering, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship—and reveal a family secret she's been keeping since childhood.
Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present, and find a way to help each other get what they want most of all.
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If you’ve never heard Kristan Higgan’s give a speech, you really should. I did at one of the RWA conferences. It was the best speech I’d ever heard. It was funny, heartfelt and poignant, exactly like this book.
In IF YOU ONLY KNEW, we follow two sisters, Jenny and Rachel, through some of the ups and downs of their lives. Although, in Rachel’s case, there’s more down than up. But I’ll get to that in a sec.
The main main character of this story is Jenny Tate, wedding dress designer extraordinaire. She’s recently divorced but remains good friends with her ex-husband Owen the plastic surgeon, and his new wife. Honestly, either these two are the most well adapted divorced couple ever, or they’re madhatter-type crazy. I’m going to go with the latter. And I’m not the only one who feels that way. Jenny does too.
I know that coming today is incredibly pathetic, don’t worry. It’s just that I didn’t want to seem bitter by not showing up—though I’m pretty sure I am bitter, at least a little.
Showing up to where you ask? The new wife’s baby shower. Guess who wanted to have a baby when they were married? Jenny. Guess who didn’t? Yep, Owen the ex-husband. Would I have attended? Hell no. It’s clear from page one that Jenny has some growing to do. She needs her backbone reinforced. But you can’t help but love her because she gets it. She’s more than aware of her shortcomings.
Next up is Rachel, who is—at least at the onset—ostensibly happily married with three and a half triplets (all girls). Then she comes across the image of a “crotch shot” on her husband’s phone. Sender unknown. The funny thing is she doesn’t know what it is, and asks Jenny.
“Do you know what this is? Is this a tree? With some kind of disease or blight or something?”
Needless to say, when she finds out what it is, she’s floored. As she’s grappling with what it could mean, and trying to convince herself it was simply sent to the wrong number, I wanted to jump in the book and shake her. Wake up, Rachel, your husband is cheating on you. But I get it, acknowledging there’s something terribly wrong with her marriage means she’ll have to do something about it, and it’s hard. She’s a stay-at-home mother. She loves her children, her husband and her house—in that order. She doesn’t want things to change. But I got to tell you, taking this journey with her put me through the paces. By the end, I had to take several deep breaths, and tell myself that no matter how things turned out, I’d be okay with it. And I was.
Now getting back to Jenny’s trials and tribulations, can I tell you how much I love Leo, the super of her building and her eventual romantic interest. Leo is also a piano teacher and Julliard alumni. The guy is fantastic! He jumps onto the page with splash, dripping with wicked dry humor.
“You eye-fucking me?” he asks.
“What? No! I’m just…I’m not okay? I just need my key, but the stupid super isn’t here.”
“The stupid super is right in front of you.”
How’s that for first impressions? Jenny and Leo are a hoot together and apart. Although, Leo really does dish out the best lines. But as funny as he is, there’s something very tragic about him. The way he holds himself apart from everyone. He constantly cautions Rachel about falling for him, saying, “I’m strictly for recreational purposes.” (There’s a reason for that as the reader eventually discovers. ) Of course, that doesn’t stop things from happening between them… Remember though, this is women’s fiction so while there are some love scenes, they don’t go into very much detail (closed bedroom doors). And as someone who loves love scenes hot, these were perfect for this story. They fit.
There’s also a wonderful subplot about one of Leo’s piano students. Evander is a child prodigy and Leo recognizes his rare talent and does everything he can to nurture it. Ms. Higgans does a wonderful job of tying this thread back into the main storyline.
So without giving too much away, I'll conclude by saying I was very satisfied with the ending (sigh, tear up)—for both Jenny and Rachel. And I’d love for Ms. Higgans to write a follow up book on both sisters. I so didn’t want this book to end.