I’m a huge fan of Higgins and have read all her romances and am working my way through her more recent novels. I’ve had Now That You Mention It on my TBR shelf for a few years now. Actually, it was technically in a very tall stack of books perched precariously on the edge of a rolltop desk in my bedroom, but I had to move all those books when junk removal took the desk, and this book was the winner. And I’m glad because I loved it.
This book follows Nora Stuart, who escaped a Maine island by winning a scholarship to Tufts, and she’s never looked back. But when her world falls apart after she gets hit by a van, she returns for the first time in fifteen years. She was worried because she figured she was considered a pariah on her home island, and when she reaches it, she discovers she wasn’t wrong. It doesn’t matter that it’s entirely unfair—the scholarship she won was “supposed” to go to her popular classmate and she “stole” it from him. People don’t recognize her because when she left after high school, she was overweight and largely considered a loser, but she’s really sorted herself out in Boston, where she’s shed the weight, has a great career as a doctor, has a great boyfriend, and has a great dog. Well, the boyfriend has gone a bit sideways, as he reveals himself to be a jerk, but everything else is great. However, there is something in her past that has shaken her up quite a bit, which she calls the Big Bad Event (BBE). It takes a while for us to find out what happened, but Higgins paces that reveal perfectly.
On the island, she doesn’t exactly get a warm reception. Her mom is rather emotionally unavailable, Nora has to share a room with her fifteen-year-old niece who’s living there because Nora’s sister is in jail, and she’s constantly having to explain who she is to the islanders and then field the surprise and questions. But when she gets herself set up on a cute fancy houseboat some Uber-rich guy has moored there, things get better. She gets herself hired at the local urgent care clinic and makes friends there. She knows she’s going back to Boston after she has healed and her leave is over, but she’s settling in. She works hard on getting her very cynical niece to open up, befriends the super-friendly teenage daughter of one of her classmates, engineers a friendship between that girl and her niece, and gets friendly herself with the sexy old classmate, all while trying to avoid the former classmate she “stole” the scholarship from. She also befriends the woman she remembers as the Chinese girl with an accent that joined their school senior year, but she’s now discovered that the woman is hilarious, takes no shit, and throws F-bombs around right and left. I love her. (I love non-aggressive cussing. More people should cuss non-aggressively.)
So there’s a lot going on, and a lot is at stake emotionally, which is what I love about Higgins’ books. It’s great to follow Nora as she figures things out and shapes her future, which is different from what she imagined when she first arrived back on the island. I highly recommend this for fans of stories about taking a hard look at your life and doing better by yourself.