Dr. Millie Barnes is a stalker.
No, it’s okay to call her out on it. She admits it herself in the very first line of Kristan Higgin’s 2006 debut Fools Rush In. The object of Millie’s affection is Joe Carpenter, a high school BMOC who once saved Millie’s hide during an embarrassing high school field trip, and is a virtual Clooney in the looks department.
After residency, Millie returns to Cape Cod ready to do the complete makeover/win the boy of her dreams thing with Joe at a time when her family is dealing with its own personal upheaval. Millie’s gorgeous older sister, Trish, has recently finalized her divorce from her high school sweetheart, taking off to New Jersey with a new man, while her ex-husband, Sam, and the couple’s teenage son remain on The Cape, still very much a part of the day to day lives of Millie’s and Trish’s family. The relationship between Millie and her (ex) brother-in-law hasn’t changed one bit since her fortune-hunting sister dumped him. Well, except for that part where he’s now single….
When I discovered Kristan Higgins’ books about a month ago, I also discovered why an electronic reader, such as a Nook, might have been a bad idea. Because whenever I finish a Kristan Higgins novel, I want to start another one. Right then. Even if it is 2 in the morning and I have to be at work at 6. And since BN.com is so conveniently open at all hours of the day and night….
Once. I did it once. And, thankfully, it was a slow day in the office after all.
When an author captures me so completely, I’m compelled to go back and find out where it all began. Kind of like Hugh Dancy’s character in The Jane Austen Book Club, I’m not one for “starting in the middle.” And while the books are in no-way related to each other, it’s still interesting to see the journey as Higgins has matured as a writer.
To be honest, if I hadn’t sought out Fools Rush In specifically looking for Higgins’ debut novel, I don’t think I would have realized it was the one. It doesn’t read like a debut novel at all. The characters are rich, vibrant individuals you can root for. Millie, in particular, is a gem. She’s flawed and determined, and while you want to join in the chorus of doubters who are trying to stop her from going down the worst possible path, you know that there’s absolutely no stopping her because, unless you’re one of those lucky girls who met her future husband on the first day of kindergarten, you’ve been there yourself at some point in your life.
It’s in this way only that the main plot is a little familiar. Like a good jazz musician, though, Higgins plays the embellishments in such a way that Millie’s journey is still fresh, funny, and interesting. You might know that the melody is “Old Cape Cod,” but, at points, it’s completely unrecognizable as such. One twist in particular had me gasping out loud. In the middle of a crowded gym. Inspiring the guy on the machine next to me ask if I was okay.
Talk about embarrassing.
If you’re not yet familiar with Kristan Higgins, Fools Rush In is a fantastic introduction to the work of this two-time RITA Award winner (2008’s Catch of the Day and 2010’s Too Good to Be True). Then follow it up with either of those or any of her others (Just One of the Guys and The Next Best Thing are particular favorites!!!).
But if your boss finds you asleep at your desk the next morning, that’s on you.
By day, Elle Filz is an IT geek in Baltimore, MD. By night, you can either find her singing karaoke or jotting down notes for her next women’s fiction story. She is also an aspiring Betty Crocker-type who thanks God every day that a fireman lives next door.