On Second Thought
Kristan Higgins     

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance

From the New York Times bestselling author of If You Only Knew comes an irresistible look at the affection and the acrimony that binds families together 

Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who's struggling with a sudden loss of her own. 

Kate's always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.  

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that's always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate's heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

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On Second Thought is Ms. Higgans’ second highly successful foray into women’s fiction and her sophomore work does not disappoint. Like her first book, If You Only Knew (excellent book—you can read my review of it here), this story is set in the fictional, idyllic town of Cambry-on-Hudson in New York and gives you all of those small town “feels”.

I loved this book. I stayed up until 3:00 AM reading it and then woke up at 7:34 AM to finish it off. Sigh. Kristan Higgans is now officially my go-to author when I’m in the mood for a great book. More specifically, when I want an addictive, funny, emotional story with tingly romantic elements. She just gets it—if you know what I mean. The it being the human condition that involves loss, acceptance and love.

Kate and Ainsley weren’t particularly close growing up. Being half-sisters had a lot to do with that. Kate, the eldest by seven years, grew up knowing Ainsley was their father’s favorite and the only reason he’d come back to them—her mother—was because Ainsley’s mother died. When Kate meets Nathan, she’s given up looking for Mr. Right, but in a whirlwind of a romance, she’s a married woman and trying desperately to have a baby at thirty-nine. Unfortunately, she’s a widow one hundred and two days later.

Ainsley has her own drama going on, though not to the same degree as her sister. Her boyfriend of eleven years, Eric, is cancer free after a bout with testicular cancer. She’s positive he’s finally going to ask her to marry him. Yeah, well not so fast. After her brother-in-law’s death, Eric has a whole new outlook on life and his future…and Ainsley isn’t a part of it. I know, cad. Seriously, the guy is truly a self-centered piece of work. I mean he plays up his cancer. Who does that? Ainsley even gets him an online column on her magazine’s website called Cancer Chronicles. **eyeroll**

So now both Kate and Ainsley have suffered a loss, which draws them closer together literally and figuratively. And what a wonderful journey it is to take with them as they come to terms with their lives in the aftermath of loss.

Are there men you ask? Of course starting with Ainsley’s rather stoic, sober boss whom she refers to as Captain Flatline. Got broody, silent heroes who keep their emotions on lockdown? Send them my way. They are totally my cuppa tea. With Ainsley being the slightly naïve, laid back, people pleaser she is, the dynamics between them are great. She’s not the greatest employee though. I think tardy is her middle name. One of my favorite moments in the book was when they got together. I know I made a noise—perhaps it was a gasp or a yelp, not sure now—and then closed my eyes for a couple seconds. I wanted to read on but I also wanted to savor the moment. I did both. But them getting to that point isn’t a walk in the park and neither is what’s ahead. Soooo good though. So worth every bit of emotional upheaval they put me through.

With Kate, men are a whole different ball of wax. I mean she’s a widow. She’s not interested in men. Although there is Daniel the Hot Firefighter… I kid you not when I say that’s exactly what Kate calls him—to his face. According to Kate, his dating life can be summed up like this:

The single guys we knew, like Daniel, the now-divorced and still hot firefighter, date twenty-somethings—The False Alarms, Paige and I called them, since nothing serious ever developed after Daniel’s divorce. The False Alarms were all pretty much the same—shockingly beautiful, thigh-gapped, vapid.

Some very interesting things happen between the two is all I’m going to say. I will also say that I liked Daniel the first time he put in an appearance. He’s the flirt. The tease women can’t take too seriously if they don’t want to get hurt. But I knew he was much deeper than that. And boy did I ever want inside both these guys’ heads. I wanted to know what they were thinking and feeling at key moments in the book. Alas, that didn’t happen.

Other drama? Of course. Mother-daughter, mother-stepdaughter and sibling relationships are explored and tested. One in particular is really tested. Call it betrayal of the worst sort. On the very bright non-angst side, readers also get to catch up with Leo and Jenny from If You Only Knew (still a favorite couple of mine). Surprises? You betcha. Not gonna tell though. I’m going to let you find out for yourself why I fell so hard for On Second Thought and why it’s going on my keeper-shelf.

~ Beverley