Nearly six feet tall, newspaper editor Chastity "Chas" O'Neill can hold her own with her four firefighter brothers, whose bravery is legendary in their upstate New York hometown. But at age 31, she's tired of being one of the guys and ready to fall in love and add more babies to the family brood. Too bad firefighter Trevor Meade, whom she's adored since childhood, only thinks of her as a friend. By this point-about page 16-romance readers will know exactly where this is heading, but Higgins (Catch of the Day) enlivens the journey with subplots including a handsome surgeon who falls for Chas, the unpredictable relationship between her divorced parents and attempts by an ambitious receptionist to undermine her position at the newspaper. There's also plenty of slapstick humor that ranges from amusingly ribald to uncomfortably coarse. Still, Higgins provides an amiable romp that ends with a satisfying lump in the throat. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Just One of the Guysby Kristan Higgins
Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be
So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2she's cursed with four alpha-male older/b>
Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be
So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2she's cursed with four alpha-male older brothers.
While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten overalthough he seems to have gotten over her just fine.
Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys .
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Read an Excerpt
"I think we should stop seeing each other."
My jaw drops. I inhale sharply, and the stuffed mushroom I just popped in my mouth is sucked right into my esophagus. Jason continues, unaware of my distress. "It's run its course, don't you think? I mean, it's not like we ve seems like my little old air passage is completely plugged. My eyes are tearing, my chest convulsesBefore you break up with me, Jason, would you mind a little Heimlich? I slam my hand down on the table, rattling the china and cutlery, but Jason assumes that my distress is heartbreak and not oxygen deprivation. He looks away.
I'm being killed by my appetizer. I knew I shouldn't have ordered it, but emo makes the little number drenched in butter, with little bits of garlic and parsley and um Must breathe now. Save food review for later. The pressure in my neck is building. I make a fist, wedge it just below my sternum, and slam myself into the table. The mushroom shoots out, hits a water glass and comes to a rest on the white tablecloth. I suck in an enormous breath, then begin coughing.
Jason eyes the mushroom with distaste, and without thinking, I grab it, stuff it in a napkin and take another beautiful gulp of air. Breathing. It's so underrated.
"I was choking, you idiot," I manage to wheeze.
"Oh. Sorry about that. Well, good thing you're okay."
It's hard for me to believe that I was even dating Jason to begin with, let alone the fact that he's dumping me. Dumping me! I should be dumping him!
I glance at the wadded-up napkin containing the instrument of my near death. The poor busboy who has to deal with that. Should I warn him? Otherwise, he'll shake it out, innocent, unaware, and the unchewed mushroom will fly across the kitchen, sliding on the floor, maybe getting squashed under a shoe .
Focus, Chastity, focus. You're being dumped. At least find out why. "So, Jason, that's fine. I mean, clearly it wasn't love at first sight. But other than that, do you mind telling me well, why?"
Jason, whom I have been seeing for about three weeks, takes an impervious sip of wine and stares over my head. "Do we have to dissect this, Chastity?"
"Well, um think of it as my desire to gain information. I am a journalist, remember." I try a friendly smile, but I'm not feeling so chummy right now. or ever, now that I think of it. At least, not toward Jason.
"Do you really want to know?"
"Yes, actually, I do." I pause, feeling a flush prickle its way up my chest. Our brief relationship has been tepid at best, but I thought the malaise was emanating from me. More than anything, this is a matter of wounded pride. Jason and I have been on four dates now. He lives in Albany, and it's a bit of a hassle to make the drive, and sometimes neither of us is feeling that inspired. Still, I didn't see this coming.
Jason's tongue is searching for something near a back molar. His mouth contorts as his cheek bulges. I find myself hoping he'll choke, too. Seems only fair. His eyes still don't bother to meet mine. "Fine," he acquiesces, leaving whatever morsel lurks at the back of his mouth for later enjoyment. "You want to hear the reason? I just don't find you attractive enough. Sorry."
My mouth drops open yet again. "Not attractive! Not attract I'm very attractive!"
Jason rolls his eyes. "Sure. A handsome woman. Whatever. And with shoulders like those, you could find work down on the docks."
"I row!" I protest. "I'm strong! That's supposed to be sexy."
"Yes, well, proving that you could pick me up didn't exactly set my libido on fire."
"We were horsing around!" I cry. It was, in fact, the one lighthearted moment in our courtship we'd been hiking, he complained that he was tired, I took over. End of story.
"You gave me a piggyback ride for a mile and a half, Chastity. That's something a Sherpa should do, not a girlfriend."
"It wasn't my fault that you couldn't manage a measly twelve-mile trail!"
"And another thing. You yell."
"I do not yell!" I yell, then catch myself. "I have four brothers," I say primly and much more quietly. "It's not always easy to make oneself heard."
"Look. Is there any point in this?" Jason asks. "I'm sorry. I just don't find you that attractive, Chastity."
"Fine. For that matter, I think you need to bathe more often, Jason. This whole Seattle-grunge-patchouli thing is so 1990s." It's not a bad comeback, but my face is burning nonetheless.
"Whatever. Here." Taking out his wallet, he puts a few bills on the table. "This should cover my half. Take care of yourself." He slides out of the booth.
"Jason?" I say.
"You throw like a girl."
He rolls his eyes and walks out.
I don't care, do I? It's not like he was The One. He was just an experiment, just a toe-dip into the dating pool of upstate New York. The good thing is, I don't have to look at his freckled, hairless legs any more. At least I won't have to watch him cut his food into tiny, tiny bites that he chews relentlessly until they are merely flavored saliva. Won't have to hear that funny nose whistle he has all the time and is completely unaware of. He was only five foot ten to boot, almost two inches shorter than my superfox self.
Superfox. Right. I shove my mushrooms awaywho's hungry now?and drain my wineglass. Not attractive. Jerk. How dare he say that? It's not like he was george bleeping Clooney, either! Just a skinny, pale, mop-haired dweeb who happened to ask me out. He initiated contact! I didn't throw myself at him. I didn't kidnap him. There were no bags over heads, no handcuffs, no long rides in the trunk of my car. I did not have to dig a pit in my basement and chain him there. Why am I suddenly not attractive?
This means nothing, I tell myself. Jason meant nothing. It's just that he was the first guy I'd dated since moving back to my hometown. And, now that I think of it, the first guy I've dated in um crap. A long time. So Jason was, well, the frog I was kissing. I want to settle down, sure. Maybe I'm feeling a little under the gun to get married and spawn the four babies I always wanted.
I'm almost thirty-one years old, and these are the ugly years for women like me. What happened to all those guys in my mid-twenties? In grad school? At the paper? There must be some line that we women cross. College, grad school, just starting out in a job we're a blast then. A few years of career under our belt watch out, boys! She's a-wantin' a ring!
I glance furtively around the restaurant, hoping for a distraction. Emo's is packed tonightfamilies, couples of all ages, friends. My newly dumped status seems broadcast throughout the restaurant. It's better than being with Jason, actually, but still. I'm the only person here alone. Emo'sa place so often visited by my family that we have a booth named after usis half bar, half restaurant, separated by double French doors. The bar, I can see, is packed. My beloved Yankees are playing at home. They've won their first five games of the season. Why, I wonder, did I agree to go out with Jason when I could be watching Derek Jeter instead?
Without further thought, I leave the booth, the site of my humiliation and near-death episode, wave to the waitress to alert her to the change of venue and go into the bar.
"Hey, Chas!" Several menJake, Santo, Paul, Georgechorus my name, and my battered ego is mollified somewhat. Having four older brothers, two of whom are Eaton Falls firefighters alongside my father, a captain, ensures that I know just about every local male under the age of fifty. Unfortunately, this has done nothing for me thus far on the boyfriend front, since there seems to be a law against dating the O'Neill girlme.
"Hello, there, Chastity," says Stu, the bartender.
"Hi, Stu. How about um "
"Bud Light?" he suggests, my usual drink.
"Nah. How about a Scorpion Bowl? Okay?"
Stu pauses. "You sure? They're not really just for one person."
"I'm walking home. It's fine. I need it, Stu. Oh, and some nachos, too, please. Better make it grande."
I find an empty stool and turn my attention to the Bronx Bombers. The mighty Jeter makes a trademark twisting leap, snags the ball, then tags out the runner who was foolish enough to assume it was safe to leave second base. Double play, thank you, Derek. At least something's going right tonight.
Stu puts my drink in front of me, and I take a large gulp, then grimace. Stupid Jason. I wish I'd dumped him before he dumped me. I knew he wasn't the one I'd end up with, but I was hoping to like him more as time went on. Hoping for some hidden qualities to seep out from his pallid, freckled skin and eradicate the sneaking suspicion that I was dating him because I had no one better to be with.
Didn't happen. Another gulp from the Scorpion Bowl burns down my throat. Don't worry about that jerk, the Scorpion Bowl seems to say. He was icky, anyway. Yes. True, Scorpion Bowl. But he did beat me to the breakup punch. Damn.
"Here you go, Chastity," Stusix feet evensays, setting down the nacho mountain in front of me. Cheese oozes off the sides, jalapenos are glommed on top of a cloud of sour cream, and suddenly, I'm starving, the mushroom mishap forgotten.
"Thanks, Stu." I pull off a hunk of nachos and take a bite. Heaven. Another swallow of hideous drink. Not so bad this time, not with a nacho chaser, and a pleasant buzz fuzzes my brain. Good old Scorpy. Haven't had one since an ill-advised college drinking party, but I'm starting to remember why they were so popular back then.
The inning is over, and a commercial comes on. Taking another bite and another slug of my drink, I glance back out at the restaurant. Through the French doors at the table nearest the bar sits a good-looking man. Though I can't quite see his companion, her hair is white, making me think she's his mother, possibly his boss. He really is handsome in that perfect and somewhat sterile New York Times Magazine way prep school rich, full lips, long, flopping McDreamy-style blond hair, bone structure of the gods. Six-two. Even though he's sitting, I can estimate his height to within centimeters, barring unanticipated leg amputation, of course. Six-two. The perfect male height. Aside from Jeter, and Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, this guy is basically my ideal man.
Watching him, my heart sinks a little further. A man like that is way, way out of my league. Not that I'm a hideous, stooped, wart-ridden hag, but I'm well. Perhaps I'm a bit tall? But isn't tall in? The fashion designers love tall women, the Scorpion Bowl tells me. I snort. Maybe women who are thirty or forty pounds lighter than I am, but still. Better five-eleven and three-quarters than four foot nine. And yes, I'm strong. Healthy. Strapping. Muscular. Teamsteresque.
I sigh. No, Mr. New York Times Fashion Section would never even notice me. It's a pity, because I'm getting a little turned on just watching him chew. It's sexy. Sexy chewing. Listen to me! And yet it's true. I've never seen sexier chewing.
Someone slides in next to me at the crowded bar. Trevor. Great. He looks at me, does a double take, and one gets the impression that he wouldn't have chosen this particular spot at the bar had he known the O'Neill girl was sitting here.
"Hey, Chas," he says amiably enough. "How's it going?"
"Hi, Trevor, I've been dumped," I announce, regretting it immediately. It was supposed to sound self-deprecating and wry, but it falls flat.
"Who dumped you?" he says. "Not that skinny pale guy?"
I nod, not looking at Trevor, who is neither skinny nor pale, but brawny and chocolate-eyed and irresistible.
"Are you kidding? He dumped you?'"
A small smile tugs at my mouth. "Yes," I acknowledge. "And thanks."
"Well, you're better off without him," Trevor says. "He was an idiot." Trevor met him only once, but his assessment, I must admit, is spot on. I don't answer, and Trevor looks at me carefully. "You want me to walk you home, Chastity?" He glances around the bar. "I guess none of the boys are here." The boys being my brothers and dad, of course.
"No," I sigh, a bit wetly. "I'll just sit here and watch the Yanks."
"Right. Well, I'll hang out with you," he says, dutiful as ever.
"Thanks, Trev." I blink back the pathetic tears that his offerand probably my beloved Scorpion Bowlinvoke, then mentally slap myself. Jason is not worth any angst or woe. It's just that what Jason said it hurt. Even if he was a patchouli-reeking jerk.
"Come on. There's a booth."
Trevor grabs the nachos, I grab my Bowl.
Trevorfive foot eleven and a halfoccupies an odd spot in my heart. On the one hand, he's like my fifth brother. I've known him since I was in third grade, and he's the best friend of both Mark and Matt, two of my four brothers. In fact, Trevor has spent more time with my family than I have in the past ten years. He works withand reveresmy father, who is Trevor's captain. He's godfather to one of my nephews. He's arguably my mother's favorite child, biology be damned.
On the other hand, and this is probably the hand that matters, he's Trevor. Trevor James Meade. Beautiful name, beautiful man. And though he's a longtime, very close family friend, and though I find him very, very attractive, Trevor is not a possibility. Don't dwell on it, Scorpy advises. Scorpy has a point.
Meet the Author
Kristan Higgins is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been praised for their "genius level EQ, whippet-fast, funny dialogue and sweet plots with a deliciously tart edge" (USA TODAY). She lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband and two extremely advanced children, one shy little mutt and an occasionally affectionate cat.
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Kristan Higgins is one of my new fave authors. This is the first book of hers that I'd read. She has a nice writing style, realistic characters, and settings. Good contempo romance, good mix of humor, conflict. sexy couples--could be a series.Maybe, Kristan? Love that Chastity is a baseball fan. be sure to check out Kristan's other other books you will not be disappointed!
Read this book quite a while before it was a Free Friday selection. I like Kristan Higgins because she provides well rounded characters who actually feel like people you might know (or want to know). In this book, Chastity deals with her own self image as well as her own conflicting views by what she wants out of life (as her mother deals with some of these same issues as well). Good read.
This is my second Kristan Higgins book and I have to say I love it. Its funny, romantic and the characters are easy to relate to. I am a sucker for happy endings!
Higgins has quickly become my new fave author! This book was solid and funny. I usually don't like books in 1st person but Higgins is a fabulous author who knows how to write a good book! The Chemistrybetween Chastity and Trevor was sizzling. Chastity is not your usual heroine. She's real and flawed.
It took me weeks to finish this book, and i was sure i didnt like it. It started off a little slow for me, but got better the futher into the story i got. Needless to say i was crying at the end, and this is now a favorite book i will read again. Its such a lovely story and im so glad that i dedcided to keep reading or i would have missed out on this wonderful book.
Love that the main character doesnt look like Barbie. Fun characters good story.
This is written with such humor that it is delightful to read. The characters are well established. I love the whole family, and their interaction with each other. The ending was not predictable, but pleasant when we got there. It is a journey of self discovery. Lots of fun to read!
This is my favorite book by one of my favorite authors. I love how she writes stories that you can connect to. Real people, real problems, real emotion. And so much humor! Always looking forward to her next book.
I have read all but one of her books and I have thuroughly enjoyed every one of them! It is laugh-out-loud funny with a mix of romance! I truly hope there is more to come from Kristin Higgins! She has become a favorite!!
I have read the book twice and both times loved it. You can not help getting dragged in to this loud crazy loving family. I actually laughed out loud at times.
a great weekend read! funny and touching this is a great feel good book. I will buy more books by this author.
Really liked it. I wasn't sure if I was going to like because the other book I read by this author kind of dragged (Too Good To Be True) but I couldn't put this one down, the ending is predictable but I still loved it.
Kristan Higgins is amazing; once again she delivered the perfect book for me! I loved this book and the characters – I’d love to see this as movie just for the fact of hot Firemen come to life! I loved the dynamic of it all – Chastity with her brothers and the big family (and extended firehouse family). Kristan does an amazing job of making the stories realistic and a bit sappy just to touch the right emotions then once you have a sappy moment up pops a laugh out loud experience. My favorite line of course has to be “blah blah bleeping blah” or anything that went well for the bleeping sake… The Lord of the Rings references had me busting a gut (because as a true nerd I’ve watched them so I knew the parts!). I love Chastity – great all around developed character with tons of personality. And who wouldn’t love Buttercup?! I had to bring my own dogs in just to feel the animal love while finishing the end of the book yesterday. Great Great once again in my opinion – onto more of these delightful books for me!
This was a really great book! So worth the money!
Great story - loved the characters. A MUST read for lovers of chick-lit.
I read this book in one day...could not put it down. It had me laughing out loud and getting nervous about what may happen. It was fantastic!
Kristin Higgins is one of my favorites and this is a fun book to read. Enjoyed it.
Loved whole book beginning to end! Buy it!! It wont disappiont!! Great funny read
Made me cry at the end..... both times i read it. Great book.
I love this writer. She is so funny. This book was really good I can't wait to read another of her books
I just finished reading this book and it was GREAT! I absolutely love the way this author writes. She has such a great sense of humor and it comes across in her writings. I had not read a HLQ book in many many years and I really don't consider this one of those books. If you are considering reading this book, I am telling you you will love it! Kristin Higgins, please keep them coming.
I have read this twice already. One of my favorites by this author. A range of emotions reading this book. Definately worth the money.
Best one yet! Please write more kristin higgins!
I love that the characters have flaws because they seem more real to me. The family dynamics in this book is very interesting, probably one of my favorites that she's written. I enjoy the bantering and fights between the siblings, and the parent's relationship was told in a very real and bittersweet way. It was a great and touching supporting story. I love how the main character's relationship developed over the years, and the author ends the book with a sweet chuckle on your face. Not to mention there were quite a few hilarious laugh out loud moments you can't forget. Kristan Higgins is one of my favorite authors! Her novels make me laugh, swoon, cry, and think-great balance.
This book rocked