"A beautifully written story which takes the reader on an emotional and heartfelt journey"
Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Posted January 12, 2016
With its poignant friends-to-lovers storyline, handsome
hero, hardworking heroine and wonderful secondary
characters ANYTHING FOR YOU by author Kristan Higgins is a
fabulous read! The first chapter of ANYTHING FOR YOU drew
me into Connor and Jessica's story, and I enjoyed reading
every bit of their journey. Connor O'Rourke has been in
love with Jessica Dunn for years. He has decided to make
their off again-on again, friends-with-benefits
arrangement permanent. Connor proposes and Jessica turns
him down. End of story, right? Not at allâ€”it's just the
Kristan Higgins uses the flashback technique to provide the
reader with the couple's personal and romantic history.
Difficult issues such as alcoholism, infidelity and the
care and education of people with special needs are
presented in a subtle but effective way. Connor and
Jessica met under difficult circumstances, which has
resulted in a long standing issue between Connor and
Jessica's brother Davey. I love the chapter when the
couple meet unexpectedly in New York during Connor's senior
year of culinary school. Over dinner, Connor shares his
dreams of opening his own restaurant "something small and
humble but with great food" with Jessica. He asks Jess
about her dream job. Her simple response says it all. She
wants a job that would pay her enough to take care of her
The scene when Jess presents the terms for their
relationshipâ€”no telling anyone, no coming over when Davey
is around and no sappinessâ€”is poignant and very well
written. The rules provide a lot of insight into Jess's
character. Jessica has made many mistakes in the past, and
she doesn't believe she deserves someone like Connor.
Connor accepts Jess's terms without hesitation because he
loves her and would do anything for her.
As the daughter of two alcoholics, Jess is very
independent, hardworking and determined to provide for
herself and her brother. The author does a spot on job with
the multi-faceted character of Jess as she provides example
after example of why Jess puts Davey first. While it
appears Jess is confident, smart, and determined, she is in fact
I enjoyed reading the scenes at Blue Heron between Jess,
Honor and Marcy, the new event planner. The Marcy-Jessica
dynamic was a great secondary story. Fans of the Blue Heron
series will appreciate how the Holland Liberty Maple tree
impacted Marcy's career and Jess's decision.
ANYTHING FOR YOU is a beautifully written story which
takes the reader on an emotional and heartfelt journey.
Kristan Higgins has written an excellent slice-of-life
novel drawing the reader into this story with unique
characters and clever dialogue. The epilogue is a perfect
treat for Ms. Higgins' Blue Heron readers, and I cried when
I read it. I enjoyed reading ANYTHING FOR YOU so much
I bought IN YOUR DREAMS and WAITING ON YOU and look forward
to reading them. I am hoping the author has a story in
mind for Ned or Lorelei in the future!
If you are looking for a book to read in the New Year, pick up
ANYTHING FOR YOUâ€”it's a great way to start
the New Year!
Before you get down on bended kneeâ€¦
should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For
years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn
take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and
thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving,
got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyardâ€”it's the perfect
time to get married.
When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond
firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her
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
excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult
(and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for
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
ExcerptIn which Connor is dumped by a girlfriend becauseâ€¦well,
heâ€™s not really sure why. Because he looked at Jessica
Dunn, which he didnâ€™t realize was not allowed.
â€śDonâ€™t bother, Connor,â€ť Kim snapped, flicking back her
beautiful hair. â€śYouâ€™ve never not looked at me the way
you wouldnâ€™t look at her.â€ť
â€śUhâ€¦how am I supposed to respond to that?â€ť
â€śYou saw her, and my God, the air just changed, Connor.
So donâ€™t bullshit me.â€ť
He held up his hands in surrender. â€śShe and I dated very
briefly, and that wasâ€¦I donâ€™t know. Two years ago.â€ť
Twenty-seven months ago. â€śIt didnâ€™t work out.â€ť
He wasnâ€™t about to spill Jessicaâ€™s personal issues or
family history. â€śShe just didnâ€™t think it was working.â€ť
â€śWell, itâ€™s clear you want to be with her, so good luck.â€ť
With that, Kim opened her car door and got in. â€śNice
â€śHow am I the bad guy here?â€ť
â€śYou just are. Deal with it.â€ť She slammed the door,
backed out of her spot, then rolled down her window. â€śYou
have no right dating someone when youâ€™re in love with
Then she gunned the motor, ran over his foot and was
gone, tires screeching at the corner.
â€śOuch,â€ť Connor said.
He tried his foot. Bruised, maybe, but not broken. With a
sigh and a curse, he went back inside, limping a little.
â€śAnother one bites the dust, huh?â€ť Colleen called.
â€śI hate women. Especially you, Dog-Face.â€ť
â€śThey hate you back, Troll Boy.â€ť
Rafe was finishing up the last order. â€śIâ€™ll clean up,â€ť
â€śI thought you were with your woman.â€ť
â€śShe dumped me. Get out, go home, have fun.â€ť
â€śIf you were gay, I think weâ€™d make a really nice couple.
Just putting that out there.â€ť
â€śDonâ€™t make me fire you.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s what I get for trying to be nice. Ciao, boss.â€ť
Connor grunted. Got to work. Cleaned the mess from the
entire night, shooed off the cousins, ignored Colleen.
When the place was empty, he started cooking. Lasagna.
Vegetarian lasagna with sautĂ©ed red onions, portobello
mushrooms and fresh baby spinach. Made a thick white
sauce with whole milk, flour, ground pepper and lots of
butter. He made the dough, cranked it through the pressâ€”
pasta from a box tasted about as good as the box, whereas
Connorâ€™s could make an Italian grandmother weep. Ladled
out the sauce, gently layered in the noodles, vegetables,
sauce and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not the
fake American stuff, that he special-ordered a few times
a year from the Italian market in Philly.
Jessica had no right to look at him like that, like sheâ€™d
just been mown down. Two frickinâ€™ yearsâ€”twenty-seven
monthsâ€”and she hadnâ€™t once indicated the wish to get back
together. And then, with one look, she blew a perfectly
nice relationship with a very nice woman.
â€śSo, brother mine, you want to talk?â€ť Colleen asked,
coming into the kitchen from where sheâ€™d been stacking
chairs in the restaurant.
Colleen didnâ€™t say anything for a minute. Then, because
it was physically impossible for her not to speak, she
said. â€śIâ€™m sorry about Kim. She seemed nice.â€ť
â€śYep.â€ť But he looked up. â€śThanks.â€ť
â€śSee you tomorrow.â€ť She punched him on the shoulder, just
hard enough to hurt a little, and he flicked some white
sauce into her hair. Then she left, and the quiet of the
empty restaurant settled around him.
Cooking always grounded him. To be a good chef, you had
to understand food, let it speak to you, inhale its
scents, watch it cook. You had to feel the pasta, assess
its stick against the wooden spoon, taste it, to know
when it was done. You couldnâ€™t just look at a clock. You
just had to know when it was right.
Cooking was a way to stop time. To make a family take a
half an hour and sit, relax, eat and taste. There was a
Zen sense to it, a way of making a dozen separate
ingredients into something transformative and new and
special, something that would sustain and nourish and
bring happiness to those who experienced it, at least for
a little while.
Small wonder heâ€™d started cooking when his parentsâ€™
marriage began to crumble, years before his mother knew
anything was wrong.
He put the lasagnas in the oven and got to work cleaning
the kitchen until every surface gleamed.
He loved this place. It was his true home.
And he didnâ€™t like getting slammed in the chest at home.
By the time the six lasagnas were done, it was 1 a.m. He
loaded them into his truck, drove to the soup kitchenâ€”
theyâ€™d given him a key when he opened Oâ€™Rourkeâ€™s, and he
dropped by about once a week with this kind of takeâ€”And
left five of the lasagnas in the fridge with a note on
heating. Then he got back in his truck and drove to
She answered faster than he wouldâ€™ve expected. â€śConnor,â€ť
she said. â€śIs everything okay?â€ť
â€śI brought you a lasagna.â€ť
She frowned. â€śUhâ€¦thanks. Why?â€ť
â€śIâ€™m mad at you.â€ť
â€śNo, I get that. The lasagna tells the whole story.â€ť
Okay, sure, it was dumb. â€śMy girlfriend didnâ€™t like the
way I didnâ€™t look at you. So she broke up with me.â€ť
â€śAnd clearly a lasagnaâ€¦does what, exactly?â€ť There was a
hint of a smile at the corner of her mouth, and Connor
felt an answering tug in his chest.
â€śI donâ€™t know.â€ť
Her smile grew. â€śWould you like to come in?â€ť
He followed her inside the house. The kitchen, though
plain, was immaculate. On the table were an open textbook
and a notebook. She closed both and put them on the
chair. Message received: whatever Iâ€™m studying is none of
He put the pan on the stovetop, turned and leaned against
Jessica Dunn looked beautiful in pajamas, even if the
bottoms were green plaid and the top was a T-shirt that
showed a cat wrapped in a tortilla. Purritto, it said.
â€śSo why are you here, Connor?â€ť she asked.
â€śMy now ex-girlfriend pointed out that Iâ€™m still hung up
â€śDid she now.â€ť Jess swallowed and looked at the table.
Straightened the napkin holder.
And that, friends, made Connor very happy. She was
nervous. For some reason, he knew that was a good thing.
â€śYou ruined a perfectly good relationship.â€ť He bit down
on a smile.
â€śYep.â€ť He let his gaze wander over her. Her hair was
down, and he loved her hair, the cool, smooth texture of
it, the graceful swing. Her cheeks were flushed, and she
was now fiddling with the drawstring of her pajamas.
Double-knotting it, in fact.
Connor had always been good with knots.
â€śDo you want me to stop coming to Oâ€™Rourkeâ€™s?â€ť she asked.
â€śThen what do you want?â€ť
She went to put her hands in her pockets, then discovered
she didnâ€™t have any. Folded her arms, instead. â€śSo youâ€™re
bribing me with lasagna?â€ť
â€śYes. Is it working?â€ť
She shrugged. â€śA little. It smells fantastic.â€ť
â€śJess,â€ť he said quietly, â€śyou didnâ€™t like seeing me with
someone else. So be with me.â€ť
She huffed. â€śI have no problem with you being with
someone else, Connor. If you like her, thatâ€™s great. Iâ€™m
â€śYou almost sound sincere.â€ť
â€śI am,â€ť she said.
The kitchen was quiet except for the hum of the
refrigerator. He kept looking at her. The pulse in her
neck was visible. And fast.
â€śShe was right, you know,â€ť he murmured. â€śI am still hung
up on you.â€ť
â€śSorry to hear it.â€ť
â€śNo, youâ€™re not.â€ť He went toward her and took each of her
hands in his. She swallowed again, her cheeks pinkening.
â€śJessica,â€ť he whispered, leaning down to kiss her cheek.
She shivered. Didnâ€™t pull away. â€śBe my girlfriend.â€ť
Kissed her jaw, then just below her ear. â€śYou have to. I
made you lasagna.â€ť Her skin smelled like lemons and
â€śI canâ€™tâ€¦you shouldnâ€™tâ€¦â€ť
â€śLasagna, Jess. All those layers. Homemade pasta.â€ť
She laughed a little. â€śConnor, Iâ€™m sorry. I wish I couldâ€¦
I wish you were still with her. Your girlfriend.â€ť
The comment seemed to hit her where she lived, because
her beautiful green eyes softened, and her gaze fell to
Connor didnâ€™t wait for more of an invitation. He kissed
her, slid his arms around her to keep her close, and
there it was again, that locked-in perfection, like they
were made to kiss each otherâ€¦and only each other. Her
mouth was soft and giving, and a small sigh came from her
and he couldnâ€™t wait any longer, because for crying out
loud, they hadnâ€™t been together for twenty-seven months,
and he missed her, he ached for her, and no one else
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