Title: Anything for You by Kristan Higgins
Blue Heron Series Book Five
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Before you get down on bended knee…
…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O’Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she’s got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it’s the perfect time to get married.
When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who’s now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she’s positive married life isn’t for her.
But this time, Connor says it’s all or nothing. If she doesn’t want to marry him, he’ll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he’s never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn’t quite as sure as she thinks…
Anything for You is another heartfelt installment in Kristan Higgins’ marvelous Blue Heron series. Beginning with Connor O’Rourke’s ill-fated marriage proposal to his on again/off again secret girlfriend Jessica Dunn, the novel follows the couples’ rocky relationship through its twenty year history.
Despite their ups and downs over the years, Connor’s love for Jessica has never waned. He has abided by all of her rules and although she is the one who puts the brakes on their relationship, he has never asked or expected more of her than she is willing to give. But all of that changes when she rejects his marriage proposal. Vowing this is the last time he will let Jessica walk away from him, Connor finally asks his twin sister Colleen to work her matchmaking magic for him. After suffering through a couple of miserable blind dates, Connor quickly reaches the conclusion that he would rather be single than live without the woman he loves and he eventually reunites with Jessica yet again. Will this reunion be their last? Or will Jessica’s fears continue to come between them?
Connor fell hard for Jessica when he was twelve years old but their lives took them in very different directions. He is a professional chef who co-owns a popular pub with Colleen and while his relationship with his father is distant, Connor is fairly well-adjusted and happy. Although he is a little gruff and sometimes grumpy, he is charming, kind-hearted and prefers to stay out of the limelight. He and Colleen are close but they hide their affection for one another behind sarcastic and witty banter. The only real problem in Connor’s life is his secret liaison with Jessica and he is hoping the marriage proposal will finally convince her to take their relationship seriously.
Jessica’s life is and, always has been, complicated. She is the sole caregiver for her mentally challenged younger brother, Davey (who just happens to HATE Connor). Their childhood was incredibly dysfunctional and she was forced to grow up way too fast since their alcoholic parents could barely care for themselves let alone their children. Jessica learned the hard way that she could not count on anyone else and she does not easily give her trust to anyone. Although she has finally left her trailer park roots behind her, she does not have any faith that her good fortune will continue and she is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Davey comes first in her life and since he cannot stand Connor, Jessica is not even willing to consider Connor’s proposal and she is stunned when he tells her he is done being her secret lover.
Knowing that Jessica breaks Connor’s heart time and again, it is easy to assume she would be a difficult character to like. Fortunately, the flashbacks of their complex relationship offer incredible insight into her reasons for being unable to fully commit to him. The background information about her family explains her need to maintain an emotional distance. There is also residual guilt from her childhood that plays a major factor in her decision to always put Davey’s needs ahead of her own.
Anything for You is an emotional, poignant and heartwarming addition to the Blue Heron series. More than just a romance, the novel deals with serious issues such as alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome and Kristan Higgins deftly handles these sensitive topics with ease. The romance between Jessica and Connor is the perfect blend of heartache and hope and despite some frustration with both characters, seeing them finally find their happily ever after is immensely gratifying. An absolutely beautiful story of love and forgiveness that old and new fans of this outstanding series are sure to enjoy.