A Five Stiletto Review
~ By Alana Albertson
I’ll start with a confession. I used to hate romance novels. I’ve never been attracted to Fabio and never really had any idea what happened behind the pages of a picture of his ripped chest. I imagined a cheesy hero, a pathetic damsel in distress – wasn’t my scene. My disdain for bodice ripping led me down a dangerous path of writing Chick Lit. After my novel was runner up in the 2008 Stiletto contest, I found a terrific agent and filled my head with dreams of a major publishing contract. It wasn’t to be. Editor after editor loved my writing, my characters, and my plot but the only common theme of my rejections was “It’s too Chick Lit – not quite romance, not quite women’s fiction.” What’s a Chick Lit author to do? My agent suggested I rewrite my book as contemporary romance. She even sentenced me to read a Danielle Steele book! I forced myself to read it, the entire time thinking, if this is what it takes to get published, I’m not interested. I’ll waste my time doing something more rewarding, like training to be a NFL cheerleader. Desperate, I turned to my chapter, asking for suggestions for a sassy romance novel that I could devour the same way I fell in love with Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Dirty Girls Social Club? Enter Kristan Higgins.
TGTBT is the story of unlucky-in-love high school history teacher, Grace, who lies to her family and friends about being in a relationship with the perfect man. One problem – he exists only in her head. When sexy (and fresh out of jail) Callahan moves next store, Grace falls for him and realizes that her true match might not be so perfect on paper.
Told in a chick litty, first person POV, TGTBT is laugh-out-loud funny. Callahan is masculine and intoxicating, a bad boy with a good heart. And there’s a great Gone with the Wind shout out.
To me, Higgins is the new voice of chick lit. Light-hearted, modern romantic comedy with a sassy heroine. Granted, there are no mentions of Louboutin heels and Birkin handbags, and all the characters have real jobs in normal industries versus being assistants in highly glamourous careers. But these extravagant lifestyles were what doomed Chick Lit to the remainder bins. The characters that inhabit Higgins’ world are more relatable than many of the untouchable chick lit heroines and their douchy love interests.
I was thrilled when TGTBT won the Rita. This is the perfect contemporary romance that will appeal to readers of chick lit. For me, it was a life changer. Higgins opened me up to a whole new world of romance fiction, which I now love, and inspired me to write it myself. Five out of five stilettos.
Alana Albertson is the President of RWA’s Chick Lit Writers Chapter and the founder of Academe Advantage, a college admissions & test preparation company. A recovering Chick Lit author, Alana currently writes contemporary romance and young adult fiction. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, four-month old baby boy, and a menagerie of rescue pets. When she’s not spending her time needlepointing, dancing or playing the drums, she can be found watching episodes of House Hunters, Big Love, or Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. Keep up with her at www.alanaalbertson.com.