Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins
(HQN, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN0373-77109-6
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Fools Rush In describes the heroine: a thirty year old woman who has made it through medical school but has had a crush on a guy she knew when she was in middle school. Not only has she had a crush, she has idolized him and made him into some kind of a god. She admits she stalked him, spying on his house and learning all his likes and dislikes. Now she completely changes herself – weight loss, new exercise program, new hairdo and new clothes – in order to attract him and get him to notice her so he will fall in love and marry her. I disliked this heroine through much of the book.

Millie Barnes has just finished her residency and has returned to Cape Cod, where she grew up, with the hope to join a family doctor’s practice. Said doctor wants to see what she can do, so he promises her they can discuss things in the fall if she proves her abilities at the local emergency clinic and at the local nursing home, checking in on his patients. (Now admittedly I don’t know much about the medical profession, but in my mind completing your residency should be proof enough that you have skills). Millie agrees because it gives her time to pursue her other life-long dream of becoming Mrs. Joe Carpenter.

Joe Carpenter is a carpenter. He is drop dead gorgeous and is a playboy around town and other places too. He was a sports hero as well as the prom king. He never knew Millie was alive. Millie always thought that was due to her beautiful sister, who was her complete opposite. Trish was a few years older, a cheerleader and gorgeous to boot. Millie was awkward, had acne and was always a bit on the chubby side. Trish got pregnant and married right out of high school to the local town jock, who was on a scholarship at Notre Dame. Sam Nickerson was a great guy. He always treated Millie like she was somebody and they were friends as well as relations by marriage.

Just after Sam and Trish married, Sam hurt his shoulder and had to give up his scholarship and dreams of playing in the NFL. They moved back to Cape Cod and raised a fine young son, Danny, who is ready to enter his senior year in high school. Now divorced from Sam, Trish lives in New Jersey with the rich man she cheated with.

The story follows Millie as she makes herself over with the help of her two gay friends and another, Katie, who is divorced with two young boys. Millie plans to entrap Joe into seeing her and falling for her. Sam and Danny are on the periphery, friends in the port, who also happen to adore her just for who she is. At one point, Millie’s plan works and she starts dating Joe. But Joe isn’t as great in real life as he is in her fantasies. Now she finds herself falling for Sam. What is she to do?

The good things about the story are Sam and Danny. Sam is warm, loving and seems like a nice guy. Danny is a teenager with a lot of brains and seems to love his family. He is a good kid.

Millie is the major problem in Fools Rush In. She has wasted almost 15 years of her life mooning over some guy who was nice to her when she threw up in middle school while all the other kids were making fun of her. She has attributed acts of kindness to him, even though she doesn’t know the real story. Even when he acts like a slob and seems to only want her for the mediocre sex they have, she doesn’t give up the ghost. She keeps making excuses for him until I wanted to throw the book at her. Then she expects the reader to feel sorry for her when she suddenly discovers she really loves Sam instead.

Fools Rush In is Kristan Higgins’ first novel. Hopefully her second book will have more likable and sympathetic characters.

--Shirley Lyons


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