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Fools Rush In (Hqn) Mass Market Paperback – August 30, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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About 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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

On the first morning in my new home, I awoke to the sharp, hopeful smell of fresh paint, the radiator ticking companionably against the cold March day.

Today held all the unsullied promise of a new school year. residency finished. home remodeled. Career soon to begin. And Joe…Joe was out there this cold morning, soon to find that I was the love of his life. Swinging out of bed, I looked around the room, noting with pride the bright, clean blue walls and antique quilt. I padded barefoot to the kitchen, admiring my gleaming counters and shining porcelain sink. Turning on the coffeemaker, I breathed a deep sigh of happiness and gratitude.

As the coffee brewed, I rummaged through a box that was yet unpacked. Finding what I was looking for, I returned to the kitchen as the coffeemaker emitted its last gurgles, poured myself a cup, sat down and turned my full attention to the object before me.

An eight-by-ten photograph showed Joe Carpenter standing silhouetted against the sky, shirtless, as he nailed a shingle on a roof. The crispness of the black-and-white photo showcased his perfectly muscled arms as he performed this seemingly mundane task, which, with Joe's easy grace, became poetry. He was slightly turned away from the camera, but enough of his face showed that you could see just how beautiful he was. The caption had read Aptly named Joe

Carpenter of Eastham works on the restoration of Penniman House.

How did I get this picture? I'd called the paper and asked for it, thank you very much. It had been in the Boston Globe, and they'd never suspected that I wasn't Joe's mother, as I'd claimed to be. Sometimes having an old lady's name comes in handy. After all, they wouldn't have believed me if my name had been Heather or Tiffany…. Of course, I couldn't keep this picture out in the open, so I secreted it away for special times. Now was such a time, and I gazed at it with the reverence it deserved.

"It all starts today, Joe," I said, feeling pretty idiotic. Still, as I traced the outline of the man I'd loved for so long, the foolish feeling dissipated like early morning fog. "You're about to fall in love with me. Everything from here on is for you."

Resisting the urge to kiss the photo, I got up and strolled around my little house, cup in hand, basking in the thrill of simply being here. Home ownership on Cape Cod is a monumental achievement…one that I'd accomplished through no effort of my own. My grandmother had died just after Christmas. When the will had been read, I'd learned, with great shock and unsquelchable joy, that she had left her house to me—and only me.

The modest little ranch wore the requisite cedar shingles of the Cape, bleached a soft gray by the salt air and sun. There was no yard to speak of, just a scattering of pine needles, sand and moss. But the house was priceless because it was on protected land of the Cape Cod National Seashore. This meant that it would forever be free from development, I would never have a new neighbor, and I was pretty close to the water (three-tenths of a mile to be precise, though there was no view whatsoever). But I could hear the roaring surf of the mighty Atlantic, and at night the beam of Nauset Light swept across the darkness.

For months, I'd been driving up from Boston to work on the house, sanding floors, painting walls, sorting through my grandmother's things, and the end result was a nice amalgamation of old and new. Gran's needlepointed footstool sat next to my glass coffee table, bright new fabric covering her old beige love seat, a nice watercolor in the spot where a photo of John Kennedy at prayer had once hung. I considered the warm yellow I'd chosen for one wall of the living room, decided it was indeed fantastic, and walked into the bathroom to check on the pink flamingos my mother and I had stenciled on the pale green walls. Wait till Joe sees it here, I fantasized…he'll never want to leave. I stuck my head in the bathroom vanity to assess how much space I had. The small area still smelled pleasantly of lemon Pine-Sol, the fumes making for a rather pleasant buzz.

The phone rang and I jumped, whacking my head on the cabinet. I ran to the kitchen to answer my first phone call in the new house.

"Hi, Millie, hon," my mom said. "How was the first night? Everything okay?"

"Hi, Mom," I answered happily, rubbing my scalp. "Everything's great. How are you?"

"Oh…fine," she answered unconvincingly.

"What's up?"

"Well.it's Trish," Mom murmured.

"Ah." Of course it was Trish, the usual topic of family conversation. "So what's going on?" I opened the fridge and eyed the few occupants: oranges, half-and-half and, purchased in a moment of self-delusion regarding my baking ambitions, yeast. Clearly, I would have to hit the market later on. "Is Trish visiting?"

"No, no, she's still in.New Jersey. But the divorce is final today. Sam just called us."

"I'm sorry," I said. And I was. My parents adored Sam Nickerson, my brother-in-law. As did I. As did the rest of this town. Sam was the son my parents never had. He and my father often watched football games together and did manly things like dump runs and driveway patching. My mother loved nothing more than feeding him and my much-beloved seventeen-year-old nephew. "Well, it's not like we'll never see Sam or Danny again," I assured my mom. "They're staying put, at any rate."

"Oh, I know," she answered. "I just wish… I wish your sister had taken more time. I think she's making a mistake."

A sweet, guilty pleasure rushed through me at my mom's disapproval. Trish had always been Mom's favorite, and for years Mom had turned a blind eye toward my sister's behavior, always putting a positive spin on her selfishness. Even when Trish had gotten pregnant just after high school, my mother had defended her, taking comfort in the fact that Sam had immediately married Trish and taken her out to Notre Dame, where he'd been on an athletic scholarship.

I reminded myself that I should be over this sort of thing. Still, I couldn't help saying, "Well, of course she's making a mistake." Closing the refrigerator, I asked, "How are Sam and Danny?"

"They're all right. Sam seemed very sad, though."

"I'll go visit them later," I offered.

"That would be nice, honey. Oh, Daddy wants to talk to you. Howard, it's Millie."

"I know who it is," my father said. "I'm going to the plumbing supply store, punkin. Anything you need?"

"No, thanks, Daddy. I'm all set for now."

"Well, I need some pipe. The Franklins' septic system overflowed last night and their yard's a mess. I told them Scott tissue only, but who listens, right?"

"Serves them right, then. I don't think I need anything, but thanks, Dad."

"Okay, baby. Bye-bye."

"Bye. Have fun with the cesspool!" I answered, knowing he would. My father owned Sea Breeze: The Freshest Name in the Business, a robust septic service company, and he loved his job with the kind of zeal usually displayed only by missionaries or NFL cheerleaders.

Pleased with the sense of familial closeness, I hung up the phone. Then, with great moral fortitude, I readied myself for the next step of my plan to win Joe Carpenter.

As a medical doctor, I obviously knew that there is only one way to lose weight, and that is to burn more calories than are consumed. I'd put myself on prison rations, hence the dearth of anything good to eat in my house. My self-control lacked gusto. If I bought Ben & Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch, arguably the finest ice cream on earth, I would eat the entire pint in one sitting. With this fresh start of mine, I had resolved to improve my eating habits, and therefore I hadn't bought anything fattening or sugary or buttery—in other words, anything good. To facilitate the weight-loss process, to enter the golden realm of the physically buff, I had also decided to start running.

Running, I surmised, was easy. Just put on sneakers and go, right? Very little skill required in running. I had all I needed. Running bra, check. Nikes, check. Black running shorts, check. Not the spandex kind. Dear God, no! These were a nice, loose, breathable fabric. Cute T-shirt, check. This one said Tony Blair Is a Hottie. Gaze upon Joe's picture, check. Sigh dreamily, check. And out the door I went.

I'd never really exercised before. At all. Oh, I played a little softball as a kid, as it was something of a religion around here, but I never did aerobics or Jazzercise or Pi-lates, as did, say, sister Trish. And the difference showed. Trish, who was thirty-five, looked about twenty-three, with toned, tanned arms, tiny waist, firm bottom. As an adult, I had been too engrossed in college, med school, etc., to spend any time on my physical well-being. Residents are notoriously unhealthy. We eat Twinkies and call it a meal. Sleep for four hours and call it a night. Exercise? That's something we advise for our cardiac patients. It's not for us, silly.

After a minute or two of vague stretches, I walked down my long dirt driveway and onto the road. Since the Cape was pretty deserted in March, I was fairly sure I'd be safe from unwanted spectators. It was overcast and cool, a good day for running, I thought. Off I went. Trot, trot, trot. Not bad. Easy, in fact. Mercifully, no coordination was required. Trot, trot, trot. It was pretty cold, and my bare legs and arms stung in the damp, raw air. I passed my neighbor's driveway and continued down the road, finding that I had to breathe through my mouth now. My stomach jiggled. I wondered how far I'd gone and glanced at my watch. Four minutes.

I tried to distract myself, get into the zone, by looking around at the pretty sights. Twisted locust branches clacked together in the salty breeze. I came up to the lighthouse, its bright red-and-white tower starkly beautiful against the gray sky. Ouch! A sharp pain lanced through my left side. Run through the pain, Millie, I coached myself. Pain is weakness leaving the body. My feet slapped the pavement. Nine minutes now. The cold air scraped my throat, and I was not encouraged to hear my lungs convulsively sucking air. Agonist breathing, we call it on the hospice ward. Had I run a mile yet? Was I doing something wrong? Was my oxygen saturation dangerously low?

I lurched to a stop, bending over and wheezing pitifully. Just taking a breather, I consoled myself as my heart thundered sickeningly in my head. After a couple of minutes, I regained my composure. Off I went again. Immediately, the wheezing was back. I tried to concentrate on breathing.how hard could it be? In, out, in, out, in, out, oh Jesus, I was hyperventilating! And now I could hear a car! I feigned athleticism and forced myself to lengthen my stride in case it was someone I knew. Smiling through the incredible pain, I waved, which caused my shoulder to spasm and cramp. The car passed. Crisis over.

No, not over. A hill loomed ahead. Keep the feet slapping, Millie. Don't stop now. This hill didn't look like a hill to the naked eye; it was more of a grade, really, but as far as I was concerned it was Heartbreak Hill. I imagined myself in the Boston Marathon, that pinnacle of all athletic events, often imitated, never duplicated… and here comes Millie Barnes, that's Dr. Millie Barnes, ladies and gentlemen, from beautiful Cape Cod—

Was I about to lose control of my bladder? And/or throw up? My watch said thirteen minutes. Clearly, it was broken. At the top of Heartbreak Hill, I turned around and started back. Ah, this was easier, except that I was hyperventilating again. Calm yourself! I commanded. The hill, so horrifically long on the way up, was far too short on the way down. My legs were as supple as oak beams, and my shins practically mewled in agony. The pain in my side had yet to go away, and my shoulder cramp had now spread to my neck, forcing me to tip my head at an awkward angle.

The lactic acid in my body was building up to toxic levels. I imagined them diagnosing me at the ER in Hy-annis. "Christ, what happened to her?"

"She was running, Doctor."

"How far?"

"Almost a mile, Doctor."

Damn it! If I stopped now, I knew I would never again attempt this stunning torture. Think of Joe, I ordered my brain, think of being naked with Joe and having a fabulous body. "Oh, Millie, you're in such great shape," Joe will sigh reverently as he gazes upon my…my…my neighbor's mailbox! I was almost home! And yes, there it was, home sweet home, my own beloved washed-out driveway! I staggered into it and careened to a stop. Knees buckling, legs shaking uncontrollably, T-shirt soaked, throat dry and rasping, fighting off the dry heaves, I wobbled drunkenly into my house and collapsed into a kitchen chair.

Here she is, ladies and gentlemen! Dr. Millie Barnes, winner of the Boston Marathon! I looked at my watch again. Twenty-eight minutes, 1.7 miles. That was awesome! I had done it. My convulsive gasping took a while to stop, but after all, what a workout! After twenty minutes or so, I heaved myself out of the chair and downed a glass of water.

Then I made the large mistake of looking in the full-length mirror. My face was a shocking shade of red. Not pink, not flushed with the glow of a good workout, not even just red. A shocking shade of beet-red. The whole face, just one solid color. My eyes were puffy from sweat irritation, my lips chapped and flaky white, providing the only break from the Crayola crimson. My sweaty T-shirt clung to the doughy skin of my upper extremities and neck. My legs were red and wind-burned, better, I supposed, than the chalk that was my normal skin tone. Oh, well. I was a work in progress, after all.


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Product Details

  • Series: Hqn
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books; Reprint edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373776756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373776757
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Krystal on December 22, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a great start for this wonderful author. I enjoy romantic novels, however, most of them are too perfect and everything just is so fantasized.

Well in this story about a woman having a crush on a man for over 15 years and stalking him for that long, but later finding that she doesnt really love him is clever.

What i like about this author and about this, her first book, is the fact that the first person character is written wonderfully. You really get to be in Millie Barnes' shoes. Also, the dialogue that she uses is so common and easy to understand. Higgins definitely writes her novels in language that everyone can relate to.

The fact that the main female character falls in love with her ex brother in law is a little weird, but pulls it off wonderfully nonetheless. Sam (Millie's ex brother in law) is portrayed as the best man in the world. He truly is a prince charming.

I definitely recommend this book if you like romantic novels and want a fresh twist to the regulars on Harlequin or the like. Can't wait for her next one..
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By CRosaB on September 15, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second book I read by Kristan Higgins. The first was the next best thing, which I loved. Fools Rush In was very well written. Maybe I am the only who read this book and felt awkward. I thought that after being married to her sister for almost twenty years, Sam should feel like a brother to her. Maybe because my brother in laws both feel like brothers to me, I could not fathom having those types of feelings for them. I just couldn't see how there was a happy ending in this book. I also thought such a smart girl could not possibly be such an airhead to stalk a guy for so long. I don't know, it just felt so weird, for lack of a better word. Also after reading, The Next Best Thing, yet another woman falling in love with her brother in law, it was like okay I think I heard this senario before.

So after writing all of that, I actually really like Higgins style of writing and I might read another one of her books. To the people reading this review, I would recommend reading The Next Best Thing, it was much much better.
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I'd always remembered this book as my least favorite of Kristan Higgins' novels. Convinced that the problem must be with my sieve-like memory rather than with the book itself, I tried rereading it a couple of months ago, and was pleased by how adorable and engaging and...OH. I soon recalled all too vividly why I could barely bring myself to finish this one the first time around. I try very hard to avoid using spoilers in my reviews, but in order to go beyond a very unhelpful "eh, it just didn't work for me!", this time they can't be avoided. Bear in mind, though, that these spoilers are evident to the reader quite early on!

***************SPOILER ALERT********************

I can deal with Millie stalking the guy she's convinced she's meant to be with though very, very obviously isn't. It's played mostly for laughs rather than as a sign of instability, and sets up a nice 'be careful what you wish for' theme that I can get behind very easily. And so many of KH's heroines are adorably pathetic in this same exact, strangely likable way that it barely fazes me by now. What DOES bother me is that, in all too typical KH-ish fashion, we devote so much time to this clearly-going-nowhere storyline about the guy who's so obviously wrong for her that we hardly get to know the actual "hero" at all. Even the fact that we barely get to know the main male love interest, though, is so typical of KH's books (most of which I feel are more "chick lit" than romance anyway) that it's something I'd happily accept, only...

...that love interest happens to be her sister's ex-husband! And not someone her sister married years ago on a whim and quickly divorced, but someone her sister had been married to for about TWO DECADES!
Read more ›
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This is one of Higgins's earlier novels, I think. I've read two other later ones, and I really enjoyed the stories, characters, and humor. Fools Rush In was an OK story. Not as funny as some of her others. The leading lady was a bit pathetic in her quest to be noticed by the man she's wanted since high school, the one she has come to believe is her Mr. Right. Higgins's leading ladies always seem to have the same quality that makes you want to slap them silly as they hunger to find the right guy who they believe will complete them. They come across as needy and sometimes pathetic, but it is the quirky characters and the laugh out loud humor in her books that keeps me wanting to read [and finish reading] them.
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Since her freshman year in high school, Millie Barnes has been head over heels for Joe Carpenter. A brainy and plain gal, she was all but ignored by Joe, in an adolescence that was filled with angst, unwanted baby fat, and acne. After stalking him for over a decade to find out his likes and dislikes, she's about to return to Cape Cod, and has a plan for landing her man. Coinciding with her return is the divorce of her older sister, who has relocated to New Jersey with her new man, so she consoles her former brother-in-law Sam and his son with meals and tries to set Sam up with her divorced friend.

Armed with a new body, new job as a physician at the local clinic, new wardrobe, and a funky new hairstyle, Millie does in fact snare her man. But is this Joe the same Joe she's idolized most of her life? As the two begin a relationship, Millie realizes something is missing. Will she follow her heart and attempt a chance withthe man she truly loves?

Higgins first novel is a sweet and romantic comedy told from the protagonist's point of view, which makes for some funny anecdotes and reactions. The sibling rivalry between Millie and the seemingly perfect older sister Trish is poignant (though Trish is a hard character to like). And the interactions between father and daughter ring so authentic, that I envisioned my own late father while reading the story. This one is a gem and not to be missed.
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