Before you get down on bended knee…
…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it's the perfect time to get married.
When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her.
But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks…
Note: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I remember the first time I picked up a Kristan Higgins novel. I didn't know what to expect - just that it was some love story, and my sister was raving about it. I was a teenager at the time, and I didn't know much about love (I still don't). But when I put the book down after a few hours or maybe days of reading, I realised that stories about love don't always have to be about romantic love. Sometimes they're about friendship and family. About relationships that mean more than words and gestures. Stories about love, I realised, can also be stories about life.
Time and again, Kristan Higgins has reminded me of that fact. And Anything For You is no different.
I do want to fangirl for a moment, because I actually got to read and review this book before it's available in bookstores worldwide. Never had I imagined that the little book section of my blog would someday get to host an ARC review of my favourite author's book.
Anything For You is the story of three people in a two-person relationship. Connor has loved Jessica since before he knew what love meant, but Jessica, who has grown up protecting her special needs brother from their abusive, alcoholic parents, isn't sure that she - a girl from a bleak and rather scandalous background - could ever love someone as whole as Connor.
As for the third person in their relationship? Davey, Jessica's brother, who blames Connor for the death of his childhood best friend (and dog).
The way this story is told is slightly different from Higgins' usual narrative style. It's pure chronological order, from childhood to today, without any flashback chapters interwoven into the plot. I adore flashback chapters to death, but considering the sensitive nature of the Davey storyline, I do think it was best to put everything on the table beforehand.
This is the final Blue Heron novel, and I've grown quite fond of everyone who lives in that little town. The Holland family plays a huge part in the plot of this book, so all the characters from previous books make an appearance every now and then.
But the family that matters most is definitely Jessica's. Her relationship with her brother is difficult, heart-warming and heartbreaking all at the same time. At the same time, the book does not portray Davey in a shining light the way most books do with specially enabled characters. Yes, Davey is different, but he's still a person with shades of grey here and there.
It was true. Since the day she'd first seen her brother's tiny, squalling face, her life had been defined. Everything had changed that day, when Jessica Dunn became a big sister. She grew up. She took care of someone. She was a hard worker and protective and focused because Davey needed her to be. Everything good about her was born the day he was.I do think this book was more of Jessica's than of Connor's, even though they're both the protagonists. Connor's brewery business subplot, while interesting, pales slightly in comparison to Jessica's struggles.
But it is - first and foremost - a love story, and that has always been Higgins' strongest point. It still surprises me how she can write romance with both humour and passion so easily. One moment you're smiling at these adorable lovebirds, and the next moment there are tears in your eyes because love is brutal and difficult and exhausting. In the end, though, love does conquer all, and that's when you're both smiling and crying. And also wondering why real life is so hopelessly boring.
"Thank you," she whispered against his mouth. "Thank you for putting up with me."I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for this one.
He kissed her again, then rested his forehead against hers. "You know how it is, Jess," he said, smiling. "Anything for you."
Anything For You is a wonderful love story about family, laughter, friendship and tough times, and is possibly the best end to the Blue Heron series Higgins could have given us.
I still think The Best Man was the best book of the lot, but I might have to reread the series once more to really decide.
Anything For You releases on December 29th, 2015. Be sure to pick up a copy if you love love stories like I do, and don't forget to let me know your thoughts. Also, check back in around New Year's to find out which were the best books I read in 2015.
See you then! :)