Kristan Higgins – “Just One Of The Guys”

3 Sep

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary

PUBLISHED: Harlequin Books, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I wanted to read a straight contemporary and this one had good reviews.

The back blurb:

“Being one of the guys isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

So when journalist Cahstity 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…”

Just One of the Guys is written in present tense and first person, but I hardly noticed that while reading because the prose flows so easily. The narrator is Chastity who’s been “one of the guys” her whole life, a fact she attributes to her being rather tall for a woman and athletic, and not the best thing when you want to fall in love and have a family. At the start of the novel, Chastity just returned home to work for the local newspaper as a journalist.

Chastity is an interesting character with an engaging voice and wry humour. In fact, it was this that kept me reading at the beginning of the novel because aside from the hilarious situations Chastity finds herself in, there’s not much going on. These funny scenes reminded me a bit of chick lit novels like Bridget Jones (not that I really know what I’m talking about here, I only read a few, but well, it was my impression). While that was entertaining and enjoyable to read, it didn’t completely keep me from asking myself when a real conflict would be introduced. Higgins takes her time with getting there. The first chapters are all about setting the scene and establishing character(s), with a few flashbacks thrown in so the reader knows from where Chastity (and Trevor) are coming.

Things start to pick up, IMO, when Chastity meets the hunky doctor. Even though she gets her first glimpse of “Dr. Perfect,” trauma surgeon Dr. Ryan Darling and, as she calls him, Mr. New York Times, in chapter one, it’s only in chapter eleven that they finally meet. In true Chastity fashion, this meeting doesn’t go the way she expected and turns into one of her more hilarious scenes. It’s then that some real conflict appears (and the story really begins), IMO. Ryan and Chastity start seeing each other and soon it becomes more serious than just dating. But Chastity’s move back to her hometown to be closer to her family means also being closer to Trevor Meade, her first (and so far only) love, and that proves to be a complication for Ryan’s and Chastity’s budding love.

When Ryan and Chastity meet, the reader already knows all about Chastity’s and Trevor’s history. Different than Chastity’s family, Trevor’s family wasn’t large and happy. His parents got a divorce after his younger sister died. Since then, he lived with his mother who drank heavily, and from his early teenage years on, Trevor spent a lot of time at Chastity’s home. He’s practically part of the family and grew up with Chastity like he’s brother number five. Like Chastity’s father and some of her brothers, he’s now a firefighter.

Chastity has been in love with Trevor nearly her whole life but he made it clear that there was no future for them. But seeing Trevor again and dating Ryan stirs up old memories and Chastity can’t help herself, she keeps comparing Ryan to Trevor. It’s sometimes difficult to read because a lot of things say that Ryan isn’t The One for her, but Ryan is a nice and decent man and Chastity’s actions and behaviour are understandable. Things get more complicated when Trevor dates other women and Chastity gets jealousy, especially when Trevor’s former fiancé wants to be part of Trevor’s life again. So Chastity’s problem turns from finding a man to marry to the question of how much is she willing to compromise for that. Right up until the end, I wasn’t sure how the story would end.

The differentiated look at love and the idea of The One is what made this story more than a fluffy read with laugh-out-loud scenes and an engaging main character. There’s one of Chastity’s brothers who’s heading for a divorce because he cheated on his wife although they’re really in love. Another one of her brothers is living the dream of falling in love with The One. But most of all, there is Chastity’s mother who after a long marriage to Chastity’s father divorced him and now is dating other men. It’s clear that Chastity’s father is/was The One for her mother but as Chastity’s mother says:

“I’m tired of fighting to get your father to notice me,” she says, looking so weary and wise that I have to clench my jaw shut so I don’t sob. “He spent too many years just expecting me to be there when he felt like noticing. There I was, mother of five, keeping the house, cooking, running you kids all over, taking care of you when you were sick, and I was still just as in love with him as when we first met. The job, the guys, you kids when the mood struck him. It seemed like everything was more important that I was.” (p. 310)

Her mother’s story says: sometimes being The One isn’t enough, and it’s a mirror to Chastity’s own story. It’s this secondary plot line which asks the question “When is it time to let go?” the most. Clearly, for Chastity’s mother it is time to let go although it isn’t easy. Chastity hopes right up to the end that the love between her parents will win and this hope is one more comment on her own situation.

Final thoughts:

– I liked the title. There is more than one meaning to it in the story.

– I loved the way Higgins depicted what goes on when a large family comes together, very true-to-life, IMO.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 + / 5


5 Responses to “Kristan Higgins – “Just One Of The Guys””

  1. Christine Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this Higgins novel. I started Catch of the Day and it definitely started out great! I had to temporarily put it aside for Nalini Sigh’s Hostage to Pleasure. I will come back to it, though.

  2. Taja Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 9:39 pm #

    I definitely think about getting her other novels so it’s good to know you like Catch of the Day so far.

    I just bought Singh’s Visions of Heat. After all the contemporary romances I needed something different although I’m not happy about adding yet another series to my list. But who can ignore all the praise for this series? Not me, it seems (but what else is new?) 😉

  3. Kristie(J) Friday, September 5, 2008 at 3:03 am #

    I’ve heard great things about this one and went out and bought a copy, though like so many others, I haven’t read it yet. I’m glad to see another one in the plus column for this one.

  4. Taja Friday, September 5, 2008 at 5:48 pm #

    Kristie – yes, I bought it for the good reviews, too, and I’m glad It turned out well. It was funny and I liked Higgins’s voice a lot. I’m curious what you’ll say.

  5. Anonymous Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    This is one amazing book, i got it because i related to the title except that i’m not hulking i am short but still was one of the guys, still played rough and still had the shoulders. The humor is the best part of the book especially the quirky LOTR t-shirts and the grey tooth. If you get around to reading it you’ll directly know what i’m talking about. After reading the book i think to myself chastity is lucky the boys were her brothers and only Travis figured out she was a girl. For me, i miss the days my boys still thought of me as just one of the guys.

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