*I received a free copy of If You Only Knew from Harlequin HQN via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
Published by Harlequin HQN on 25 August 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she's still involved in her ex-husband's life. In fact, Owen's new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn't helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll be able to bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.
Her timing couldn't be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren't in Rachel's nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' "perfect" marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship—and reveal a secret about their family she's been keeping since childhood.
During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.
If You Only Knew is a cute read which still tackles some serious and heavy subjects – I loved the strong friendship between the sisters.
If You Only Knew is a contemporary romance that I would definitely tag as realistic fiction, as it follows two sisters – Jenny and Rachel – through some of the upheavals of adult life. How to deal with things when it’s impossible to run to mom and dad, how to stay strong when all one wants to do is to curl into a small ball and cry. How to trust again after that trust has been completely torn apart by someone who should have known better. How to deal with secrets – both those within the family and without. And how to ultimately move forward, without losing oneself in bitterness and anger.
Jenny and Rachel were going through some very different situations, however, in some ways things were quite similar as well. If You Only Knew is definitely about what you would have done if you had known the final outcome in advance, but not only that. As I said the loyalty and friendship between the two sisters worked really well. I did find both of them to be quite immature for their ages in many ways, though. Jenny was almost 40 and Rachel 36, and I really can’t say I recognized myself in either of them, which kind of made it a bit difficult for me to fully connect to them.
Written in alternate chapters from Rachel’s and Jenny’s point of view, in first person present tense, the readers discover the plot alongside the protagonists. And while there were some things I didn’t get, because the characters seemed slightly off to me, If You Only Knew is still an enjoyable story and a quick read. Jenny’s sarcasm was mostly spot-on, and one of the parts I loved the most!
The gifts – including mine – border on the ridiculous. The shower invitation – engraved from Crane’s – asked, at the behest of the parents, for donations to the clean-well-water charity Ana-Sofia founded – Gushing.org, the name of which brings to mind a particularly bad menstrual period, but which raises funds for wells in Africa.
He’s tall. And thin. Suddenly, I want to feed him. Also, that’s some seriously gorgeous hair, even better than at first glance. Married. Hair like that wouldn’t remain single. He’s wearing and unbuttoned flannel shirt over a T-shirt, and while he looks like he just rolled out of bed, it kind of…works. […] “You eye-fucking me?” he asks.
Already, they’re bickering over who gets to sit on which part of the couch. Charlotte keeps taking Rose’s sippy cup for no reason. Rose is angry that I didn’t let her drink wine with breakfast – “or ever, Mommy! You so mean!” Grace is scowling at the movie, because she wanted to watch Dexter instead, which I recently bought on DVD. Shockingly, I said no.