If You Only Knew is the story of two sisters: Rachel, whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down when she discovers her husband is cheating on her, and Jenny, who moves back to her small hometown after her divorce.
It's not a very flashy plot, but luckily Kristan Higgins is a good writer and kept me turning pages long past my bedtime.
1. The setting is Stars Hollowish without being unbearably twee.
2. The emotions in this book ring true.
3. The main characters are extremely likable, so you'll be rooting for them even when they mess up.
4. No sex scenes--I've been reading romance novels since I was ten and am frankly tired of the damn things (having said that, this book is more "women's fiction" than pure romance).
5. Every basic bitch itch gets scratched. Jenny has an interesting and creative job (and can run in heels!) and a clawfoot tub; Rachel is almost universally liked, a perfect mom, and a great baker. Everyone has bottles of wine on hand to crack open after a hard day. I want to live in this world.
1. The subplot about Jenny's dad and whether she should tell her sister the truth about him felt unfinished.
2. There are TODDLER TRIPLETS in this book and every single character acts like they're awesome little miracles and not a nightmarish fate you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. (Get ready for dialogue where tiny girls say "fank" instead of "thank" and grown people melt.)
3. Jenny's love interest's background was so sad and damaging that she ended up with more of a "happy for right now" than a "happily ever after," but hey--that's what most of us get.
4. There's a fairly strong bias against single life that sometimes felt jarring.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I chalk that up to Higgins's writing. I've read a lot of romances lately where the author comes up with a high-concept hook but then ruins the story by writing shallow characters who act in unbelievable ways just to further the plot. It was refreshing to read clean, smooth prose about people I can imagine being friends with, whose actions make sense.