If you’ve never been in the position our heroine finds herself in – 30, single, and at a family wedding being smothered by pitying glances and “it’ll be your turn someday”s – then her decision to make up a boyfriend might sound a little ridiculous to you. That’s alright; that’s reasonable. But let me just add in a couple of factors for you, see if they help clear things up a little. Not only is Grace Emerson single & semi-desperate, but her ex-fiance has just started seriously dating someone new. And that someone is Grace’s baby sister. With her ‘blessing’, of course. But still. It does add a little fuel to the fire.
So, when Grace’s baby sister Natalie breaks down because she thinks she’s ruined her big sister’s life, & Grace knows that the only thing that will convince Natalie that she’s really moved on is if she’s in another, happier, relationship, well… she tweaks the truth a bit. OK, no: she flat-out lies. She invents a dream boyfriend – a caring, feral-cat rescuing, always-too busy-to-meet-up-with-her-family pediatric surgeon, with whom she may be falling in love. Hijinks and absurdity result, as they must. Eventually, Grace meets an actual guy who strikes her fancy, her tempting neighbor Callahan O’Shea, has to figure out how to dump the imaginary suitor and make Callahan her actual suitor, and then there’s the little issues of his background and her making up imaginary men to deal with.
Kristin Higgins’ Too Good To Be True is a different kind of wish-fulfillment romance novel: There are no knights in shining armor or erotica to be found – just a regular type of woman who works hard at her job, cares about her family too much, and messes things up, then has to try to fix them. Grace is a person who puts herself and her needs pretty far down on the list – even inventing Mr. Perfect was initially more about making her sister feel better about being with her ex than it was about saving face. (Although he came in pretty handy for saving face and escaping uncomfortable situations once she had created him.) She’s got a hot next door neighbor, a family that overlooks the fact that she might actually need things from them too, and a job that she loves that she works hard at – in short, she’s a person who might actually exist.
In my opinion, one of Higgins’ strong suits is writing contemporary, relatable heroines that you can understand and want root for. Another is her ability to add comic relief and shades of humor to her stories in unexpected ways – Grace’s mother’s sculptures (of the feminine anatomy variety) and a series of increasingly bad first dates out of any good rom-com or screwball comedy (my particular favorite was a magician’s lament) added just the right tone to this story.
My only criticisms are that all of Higgins’ book covers look the same (or same-ish), so I thought I’d already read this book and almost didn’t pick it up (but that’s more my fault than the author’s, plus the Amazon linked book has a completely different cover than my copy), and that there was a femme fatale character at Grace’s school who I found semi-unnecessary: Overtly sexy women do not equal the enemy, just because they’re bombshells. Other than that, I can definitely recommend Too Good To Be True, or any of Higgins other books, if you’re looking for a solid, contemporary romance, peppered with a few good laughs.