Release Date: Jun 9, 2020
Heat Level: Warm
Publisher: Penguin Group
Kristan Higgan’s women’s fiction novels always have the power to completely draw me in. It doesn’t matter that I don’t really read or particularly like women’s fiction, her books somehow make me out to be a liar in that regard. And Always the Last to Know is no exception.
Always the Last to Know is a story about a family. At the core, it’s about a mother and her two daughters and their relationships. Their romantic relationships—good and bad—and their relationships with each other. There is a father in there but scenes in his POV are very limited but necessary in the telling of the story.
Barb is the mother and I’m going to get right to the chase. After John, her husband of fifty years suffers a stroke while training for a triathlon—don’t even ask—she discovers some messages on his cell phone. And believe me, it’s not good. The stroke and this discovery turns her whole world upside down. You see, Barb had plans for her future that didn’t include staying married to John. Now she has an ailing husband to take care of. Thank goodness, she has her best friend, Caro, and her favorite, perfect daughter, Juliet to lean on, to commiserate with.
Which takes us to Juliet the perfect daughter. Her husband is wonderful. Her daughters—tweens—are equally lovely, even if her older daughter is at that stage where she wants almost nothing to do with her. I too wondered why she was having panic attacks and hiding in the closet to prevent anyone from discovering. The answer came slowly but when it did I got it. Yes, the secret she was keeping from her mother had something to do with it and what she now feared could happen to her marriage, but a huge chunk of it was her career, her position as a senior architect in a very prestigious firm. So much of her identity is wrapped up in that, so when she feels that is being threatened, she doesn’t know what to do. Pretty soon she grasping at straws and doing things to herself she thinks will make her more competitive. I wanted to laugh and cry when she found herself in the plastic surgeon’s office but was doubly relieved she didn’t go for the cut (if you know what I mean).
Of course my favorite of all the storylines was the one with the romantic element, which is Sadie’s. Sadie is the youngest and truly the Oops I’m pregnant baby. And she’s a daddy’s girl through and through. She’s younger than Juliet by twelve years and was born at a time in her parents’ marriage when her father had more time to spend with a baby. Was able to bond more with her. I guess that happens, but while I was happy she received the attention her sister didn’t, I was irked that her father wasn’t there like that for Juliet.
Anyway, I was all in for Sadie’s relationship with Noah, her high school sweetheart whom she left behind when she went off to NYC to make it as an artist. Basically their relationship ended because Sadie wanted to get out of the town she grew up in and Noah wanted to stay. That’s it in a nutshell. When she comes back to help with her father’s rehabilitation, she runs into Noah, and boy did things change while she’s been gone. I cannot tell you how much I LOVED their street reunion scene. Bitter much, Noah? Hell yes he is. She broke his heart. I fell for him then and there. That’s when I wanted the entire book to be about them. Seriously, who doesn’t love a sexy, hot brooding bitter hero? I absolutely adore them! And the book was made 100% better watching their romance blossom again. I would call it a second-chance romance but technically, I think it’s a third for them.
With Always the Last to Know you get three stories in one and they are poignant, funny and broke my heart a little bit. It’s about acceptance and forgiveness, and explores the many different types of relationships: the romantic, the sexual, the familial, and the ones based purely on friendship and one’s career. I finished it yesterday and I’ve thought about it since I put it down. Called my sister to tell her about it too. And that’s because the characters stayed with me. I find myself wondering what happened to everyone even beyond the wonderful epilogue. I especially would like to revisit Sadie and Noah because they were my favorites. I was also surprised at how much I grew to care about what the hell was going on with Juliet—to be frank, I didn’t at the beginning. And then of course there was Barb and John, the most bittersweet of the lot. That was where my heart did its breaking.
All in all, Kristan Higgans penned another great read that will stay with you long after you put it down.