Spotlight & Giveaway: LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by Kristan Higgins

Posted May 28th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 32 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Kristan Higgins to HJ!

Hi Kristan and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!

Thank you! It’s so nice to be back!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Lark Smith has always had a solid plan for her life. Marry her childhood sweetheart, the lovely Justin, become a doctor, have a few kids and make a beautiful life on Cape Cod, close to her siblings and identical twin. As happens so often, those plans are ripped up when Justin dies in his twenties and she’s kicked out of her oncology program for being too emotionally attached to her patients. When the hospital’s most hated surgeon, the brilliant and incredibly rude Lorenzo Santini, throws her a lifeline back into the field she views as her life’s destiny, she accepts. The price? Pose as his girlfriend for his sister’s wedding and associated events this summer. Sparks? Negative. He’s just as awful as he seems…but his family is wonderful, and there’s something familiar about his brother, a Boston firefighter named Dante.

Meanwhile, Lark’s mother, Ellie, is stunned to find her marriage isn’t quite as perfect as she thought. Her husband and father of her five children has been having an emotional affair. Ellie moves in with Lark’s landlady, the colorful and rudderless Joy, who is delighted that her loneliness will be abated, at least for a little while.

Over the summer, the three women will figure out how to forge a new path in life. It’s a book about family, expectations, loss and grit, with a lot of laughs as well.

Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:

“The sobbing has to stop, Dr. Smith.”

It’s the first line of the book. The truth is, the last line is my favorite, but I don’t want to spoil it for readers. But the first line says an awful lot abut Lark, our heroine, and what she’s up against, symbolically. My publisher called the first chapter “a master class on writing a first chapter,” and which made me feel VERY proud.

Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • Our heroine loves cheeseburgers.
  • She’s an identical twin.
  • She has a tattoo: a line from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
    I played “She’s a Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones on repeat as I wrote the book. Lark is one of those people who doesn’t know how wonderful she is.


What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

Actually, Lark gets a very weird vibe when she first meets the hero. Something about him scares her, though he’s perfectly polite and nice (and gorgeous). But he’s so easy-going with his family, especially his sisters, and (as is true with every hero/heroine) sees something other people miss. I think when readers learn what makes Lark feel that weird way about Dante, they will be incredibly satisfied.

As for Dante’s initial reaction to Lark, let’s just say it has something to do with her tattoo: “We loved with a love that was more than a love.”


Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?

Yes! Of course! It’s the funniest scene in the book, and it involves a Renaissance fair, a falcon and an old lady sleeping under a tree.

Lark, Dante, his two sisters (Izzy and Sophia) are at a Ren fair, watching the falconry demonstration. The falconer is Sophia’s future mother-in-law. Noni, the very sour and ancient grandmother of Dante and his siblings, is also there. She’s a demanding, rude and judgmental person, and she’s fallen asleep after eating a turkey leg. As the crowd watches the falcon show…

Again, the falcon took to the air, heading like a bullet toward its target.
But suddenly, he pivoted midair, shortened his wings and whump. Lark heard the soft collision, and there was an abrupt shower of feathers. Shrieks rose from the crowd, and Otto circled again. A pigeon hung limp in his talons.
“Holy shit! That was an assassination,” Izzy said.
“Whoa!” cried Jocelyn. “Nature at its finest, folks. He is a bird of prey, after all, and pigeons are definitely prey. Why have a little piece of chicken when you can have a buffet?” The crowd laughed uncertainly. “Come on back, Otto!”
Otto continued to circle. Laden with the weight of the pigeon, he was slower and less graceful, giving everyone quite a view of the dead bird. Kind of gruesome, Lark thought, but also wicked cool.
“The circle of life,” Dante sang softly, and Lark bit down on a laugh.
“At least it was a pigeon and not, I don’t know, a hummingbird or cardinal. Something we like, in other words,” Izzy said. “You could say Otto is doing a public service.”
“I’m actually afraid of pigeons,” Sofia said.
“I think Otto sensed that,” Dante said.
“The rats of the sky,” said Izzy.
“They’re not so bad,” Lark said, feeling someone had to defend the poor birds. “I kind of like them.”
“Come on back, Otto,” Jocelyn called again.
But Otto did not fly back. No. Otto’s wings drew back as he prepared to land and eat his meal, and that place was…that place was….
“Oh, shit,” Dante said, bolting through the crowd.
That place was Noni’s head.


Readers should read this book….

If they want to have a mental vacation to a little beachside town, fall in love, laugh, cry and sigh happily.

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?

I’m currently writing a book about four estranged friends reuniting for their 25th high school reunion. Not sure when that will be out just yet.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Signed and personalized copy of OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY and A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE, plus some goodies.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Have you ever had to make a big swerve in your life? Something that would dramatically change how you envisioned the future? What caused the swerve, and how did you handle it? How do you view that time of life now? What did you learn from it?

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To set the scene…Lark has just been kicked out of the Oncology department and reassigned to the ER. As she’s leaving work, she gets a message to call Dr. Lorenzo Santini, the terror (and genius) surgeon. She has no idea why he’d call, since they’ve only met once before.

Why he would want her to call him now, she had no idea. She dialed the number, which went right to voice mail. “Dr. Santini. Leave a message.”
“Um, hi. This is Lark Smith. Dr. Smith? Um…you asked me to call you, I think. So here I am. Okay. Well. Make it a great day!”
Shit. She should’ve planned what to say.
Maybe he was calling because he’d heard Charlie Engels had died. Two years ago, he’d done a Whipple procedure on Charlie Engels, in fact, which had certainly extended Charlie’s life. It was one of the most complicated surgeries there was, removing the head of the pancreas, the bile duct, the gallbladder and part of the small intestine, then reconnecting everything. Post-operative complications were common. But Dr. Santini, despite having the personality of a feral boar, had done a beautiful job, and Charlie healed without incident.
But calling her because he thought she’d be sad? That didn’t seem like him.
A second later, her phone buzzed with a text.
Meet me at 6:30 at the Naked Oyster on Main Street.
She frowned. I think you have the wrong person, she typed.
I don’t. Be on time. Obviously, I’ll pay.
Gathering her nerve, she typed, Can I ask why you want to see me?
No answer. No three dots, either. God didn’t have to answer a lowly resident.
It was quarter to six now. Wellfleet, where she lived, was forty-five minutes away, so going home to change wasn’t an option. Today, she wore the typical, sensible-professional garb of a hospital resident—a knee-length black skirt, white oxford and Naturalizer flats Addie described as “shoes that would make a nun cry from boredom.” But Addie didn’t have to spend twelve hours a day or more on her feet. Hospital policy had her wear her hair up, keep her earrings small, and cover the one tattoo she had. In other words, she looked like she was about knock on someone’s door to talk about the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
She’d never been to the Naked Oyster before. She googled it, saw it was very swanky. And expensive, so she was glad Dr. Santini had already cleared up who was paying. Her stomach growled, reminding her that the last food she’d had was a power bar at 5:45 this morning. The Naked Oyster it was.
Lark drove carefully. The aging Honda hybrid she’d had since college had 267,493 miles on it, and didn’t take well to pot holes or sudden stops. She should buy a new car, but she loved it. It had been through a lot with her. She did need to get new wipers, though, because the windshield smeared with rain. Perfect weather for a nap and a long hard think. She wished she was home right now, or at least headed home, so she could get into her cozy bed, maybe snag Connery, the Cairn terrier she and her landlady shared.
When she arrived she saw the restaurant was a tiny place right next to the British Beer Company, a place she had been with her hospital friends. She found a parking place two blocks away, checked the car floor for an umbrella (nope), then grabbed her purse and ran through the rain.
“Whoo! Rainy out there,” she said to maitre d’, who smiled. “It’s been such a wet spring.”
“Don’t I know it. My tulip bulbs rotted, it’s rained so much.”
“Oh, no! I love tulips. They’re my favorite,” Lark said. “I’m Lark, by the way.”
“Chloe. Nice to meet you. Do you have a reservation?”
“Um…maybe? Under Santini? I’m early,” Lark said, smoothing her hair, which she knew from experience looked limp and flat. Her oldest and youngest siblings had gorgeous curls; she, Addison and Winnie had the kind of hair that was completely straight no matter what.
“Oh…Dr. Santini?” asked Chloe, her smile slipping.
Lark tried not to grimace. “That’s the one.”
“Well. Good luck.” Chloe picked up some menus and headed to a small table in the back of the bar. Lark’s stomach growled again, triggered by the smell of bread.
“Do you want a drink before he joins you?” Chloe asked. It seemed like more of a firm suggestion than a question.
“Okay,” Lark said. The memory of the anal fissure humiliation flared again. “What’s the most expensive drink on the menu?”
Chloe smiled. “I’ll tell the bartender to make you something special.”
Lark’s stomach growled again. “Can I have some bread? And maybe an appetizer?” She glanced at the menu. “How about the Oishi oysters? Are they good?”
“They’re amazing.”
“Sold.” She beamed up at Chloe, who beamed back.
“You have such a pretty name, by the way.”
“Thanks! You do, too.” Her stomach growled audibly. “You didn’t hear that, of course,” she said.
“Of course I didn’t,” Chloe said with a grin. “But I’ll put a rush on your order just the same.” She smiled and headed for the bar.
Lark made a mental note to bring her some tulips. She could pick them and swing by with a bouquet. Joy, her landlady, wasn’t the outdoorsy type, but had a beautiful garden, thanks to the previous owners. She always told Lark to help herself. Whenever she had time, Lark would pick Joy a bouquet, a smaller one for the tiny guest house she rented on the property. If she could manage, she’d stop by with flowers for Chloe, just because she’d been so sweet.
Addie often told her she tried too hard to make people like her. It was true, but there wasn’t anything wrong about that. Her twin would prefer that Lark had only her. But Lark couldn’t help it. She smiled a lot. Too much, Addie said. As if on cue, she smiled at an older man at the bar, who was looking at her. Smiling never hurt anyone, after all. Smiling made people’s days better.
Her phone was filling up with supportive texts from her family, since Addie was unable to keep news to herself. It was fine. She’d answer them later. Right now, Chloe returned, balancing a tray, and set down an absolutely beautiful cocktail containing a sprig of rosemary and a slice of dried orange.
“Oh, how pretty!” Lark said as her new friend put down the bread and oysters.
“Gotta go, Lark, but it was so nice talking to you. Good luck with Dr. Santini.” She lowered her voice. “We call him Dr. Satan, by the way.”
“So do we! At the hospital, I mean.”
“Are you a doctor?”
“Yep. Um, emergency room.” Her smile faltered a bit.
“If I ever need stitches, I’ll ask for you.” She smiled again and was gone.
Lark took a long sip of the drink. Oh, yummy. Vodka, some kind of citrusy liqueur, maybe some lemon and egg white foam on top. She’d bet it cost twenty bucks. She took another sip. Worth it, especially on Dr. Santini’s dime. Almost immediately, the drink relaxed her. She was a lightweight, and on an empty stomach, the alcohol might as well have been administered intravenously. One more sip.
And these oysters! So fresh, with a nice wasabi kick. She slurped one down, then took a warm roll and smeared it with butter. Heaven. She ate another oyster. It was such a cozy place, this restaurant. Comfy, too. Outside, it was dark and wet, and it felt wonderful to be here, resting, eating, drinking like an adult, rather than like a starving raccoon, which was how most residents ate.
She could get back into Oncology. She’d figure out a way to toughen up. How? Watch those documentaries about people with terminal disease? She winced. She’d ask Grandpop for some advice. After all, he’d watched Grammy die a slow and quiet death and had been a rock the entire time. Lark had been around, too, of course, but hadn’t been much good at the end. She’d been fine handling the work of it—washing Grammy, giving her morphine, adjusting her nasal cannula—but when she had to think losing her beloved grandmother, she ended up sobbing in the corner.
Hospice, maybe. Yes, hospice! Darlene, the director, was wonderful, and Charlie had been on hospice the last two weeks. Maybe she could ask for some help from Darlene. That would be a great first step.
She glanced at her watch (wearing one was required for all doctors). 6:16. Nervousness shot through her, and she took another gulp of liquid courage, finished the oysters and buttered another roll, the butter soft and creamy. One more sip of her drink, and Lark closed her burning eyes. God, that felt good. She’d just give them a little break before Dr. Satan—er, Santini—arrived. Mm. Cozy indeed. Lovely, in fact.
“Dr. Smith!”
Lark jerked at the sound of her name. “Yes! I’m awake! I’m here! What do you need?” Ah. Right. Not at the hospital. She brought her napkin to her mouth. Positive for drooling. Crap.
Dr. Santini sat across from her, arms folded, face grim.
“Hi.” She tried to smile.
He said nothing. Just shifted his eyes to her martini glass and the half-eaten roll in her hand. The empty oyster shells sitting on a platter of ice.
“I ordered an appetizer,” she said.
“So I see.” He glanced at the menu, then raised his hand and beckoned a waiter. “Artisinal salad, hold the gouda, grilled salmon, steamed asparagus, garbanzo beans, no butter on anything.” He didn’t deign to make eye contact with the kid, who couldn’t have been older than eighteen.
“Um…none of that is on the menu,” the poor lad said.
“Just write it down and hand it to the chef. I’m known here.”
I’m known here.
“Do you want anything to drink?” the kid asked. “Our wine list—”
“Dieting?” Lark asked. It sounded more like Addie than her. She probably had chugged that drink too fast.
Dr. Satan stared at her with dead shark eyes. “Dr. Smith? Did you wish to have more food, or did you eat enough before I got here?”
He wasn’t universally despised for nothing. Lark sat up straighter. “You know, I would love some more food.” She turned to the terrified waiter. “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?”
Dr. Santini sighed.
“Um…the burger?” the kid said.
“Hm. That does look good.” Not expensive enough, however. “I think I’ll have the ribeye, please. Medium rare. Oh, and the smoked burrata. That sounds amazing. And a lovely big glass of cabernet, okay? And you know what? Bring me a caesar salad, too, what the heck.” The boy scribbled furiously. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“Thank you, Brian.” She beamed at him, and his face reddened.
“Hurry up, Brian,” Dr. Santini said. “This is a business meeting.”
“Yes, sir. Um, doctor, sir.” Brian scurried away.
“So.” Lark said. “A business meeting. Um…are you looking for help on something?”
“Please,” he said. “I wouldn’t ask a resident to get me a napkin, let alone help me with something medical.”
Lark blinked. You’re not at work. And he’s not your boss, Addie’s voice said in her head. He doesn’t get to push you around. “Why am I here, Dr. Santini? Other than to eat?”
“I’ll get to that.”
Alright then. At least she’d be fed, and fed very well. Brian, the sweetheart, slid her the glass of wine to her and melted away. She took a sip and stared at her dinner companion.
If he never opened his mouth and you were unaware of his personality, Dr. Santini would be considered very good looking. Indeed, almost every blissfully ignorant nurse or doctor got a jolt of appreciation when they first saw him, right before he crushed their souls. He had thick, wavy dark blond hair and blue eyes. Strong jaw, Cumberbatch-style cheekbones, not an ounce of fat on him (and after hearing him order, Lark could understand why). He had the unforgiving build of a Tour de France bicyclist— tall, thin and steely, like…like a scalpel. Yes. Great comparison. She bet he ran six miles a day. At least.
“I heard you were dropped by Oncology today,” he said.
She jerked a little, felt her face flush. “Technically, yes. But I’m hoping to get back in.”
“Reports were that you couldn’t take it. Too soft.”
Hospital grapevine, ever reliable, faster than the speediest internet connection on earth. He’d probably heard before she called Addie. But why did he care? “Dr. Santini, you asked me…well, ordered me here tonight. I’m your guest. Please don’t insult me.”
“I was told you have issues with people dying. Oncology is a strange choice in that case. I’m not sure how much better the ER will be.”
“Thanks for your opinion .”
Their salads arrived, his nutritious looking, hers smothered in delicious garlicky dressing and buttery croutons. She took a bite and groaned a little. “So good,” she said around the romaine. “Is that why I’m here?” Was there some sort of hospital requirement for senior doctors to mentor residents? “Did you want to advise me on my career?”
He scoffed. “Hardly. I imagine you’ll be churning out babies in three years, not practicing medicine at all.”
“Wow. Okay. I think you need to talk to an obstetrician. Babies aren’t exactly churned.” The buzz was really…helpful. “What’s your first name, by the way? Since we’re enjoying this lovely meal together?”
Dr. Satan considered the question, as if wondering if she was worthy. “Lorenzo,” he said after a minute.
“Oh, nice. Tell your mom she did a good job.” He said nothing, just chewed his greens. “My name is Lark,” she added. “Larkby, but everyone calls me Lark, except for my twin sister. We’re identical.” People loved twins. He didn’t comment. “Do you have siblings, Lorenzo?”
His eye twitched. Didn’t like being called anything but God, she guessed. “Yes. I have a brother and two sisters,” he said after too long.
“I have a brother and three sisters,” she said. “Harlow’s the oldest, then Addie, or Addison, then four minutes later, me, then Winnie, whose real name is Windsor, and then our baby brother, Robbie. Robert. Named after our grandfather. And Addie is married to Nicole, and they have two daughters, Esme and Imogen. Oh, and Harlow…well, never mind. That’s a story for another day.”
“Did I indicate interest in your family?”
“No, but someone has to fill the silence.”
Fair point. She took another sip of wine and continued eating her excellent caesar salad. The burratta came, and she dug into that, too. So creamy, so delicious. “Want a bite?” she offered.
Lorenzo Santini’s answer was in the disdain in his eyes. He drank his water. Drummed his fingers against the table.
It was only after his healthy meal and her cholesterol-fest were set down in front of them and Brian had once again scuttled away that Dr. Satan spoke.
“I’m looking for someone to do a job for me. Unrelated to medicine.”
“I see. What is it?”
He took a bite of salmon and chewed thoroughly, not looking at her. If this is what dating was like, Lark was glad she didn’t waste her time.
“Dr. Santini? Do you need a new roof? A driver? A housekeeper?”
Still no answer.
“Do I have to guess?” She took a bite of steak. “Oh, my God! This is the best steak I’ve ever had.”
Her dinner companion took another couple of tidy, joyless bites of his fish. Then he set his fork and knife down.
“How is everything?” asked Brian, coming over to check.
“Go away,” Dr. Santini said.
“It’s wonderful,” Lark said. “Thank you, Brian.”
The boy widened his eyes at Lark in sympathy and obeyed Dr. Santini. More silence ensued. Lark found she didn’t mind, because the food was so good. And the wine! Like velvet.
Finally, after an interminable amount of time had passed, Dr. Satan—Lorenzo—took a breath, paused, then exhaled. “It’s a delicate situation,” he said. “It involves my family.”
She waited for more. More did not come.
“Does someone need an organ?” she asked suddenly. “A bone marrow transplant, maybe?” She leaned forward, concerned. “Did you run my blood type at the hospital?” Now that made sense. She was a match for something, so he took her out for dinner to ask. And she’d do it. She’d give her bone marrow, no questions asked. Saving lives was her life’s mission, after all. “I’m in. You don’t have to ask twice.”
“Calm yourself, Dr. Smith. It’s not that.” He looked at a spot over her head. “My sister is getting married on Labor Day. Our grandmother is ninety-nine and is in poor health.”
“I hope she makes it until then.” He didn’t say anything else. “And how does this involve me?”
Dr. Santini took another yoga breath in order to tolerate her questions, then let it out slowly. “My grandmother and I are close. She recently told me she…” He paused. “Never mind.”
“Just spit it out,” Lark said. “Rip off the Band-aid.” She was realizing the wine was so good, she might need to Uber it home. Also, she could cut this rib-eye with a spoon, it was so tender. Philosophically, she wanted to be a vegetarian, but the kind who ate steak once in a while. And cheeseburgers. And bacon. But otherwise, no meat. Better for the planet.
“She’s worried about me never getting married or having children.”
“Sure. Grandparents are like that. My grandfather wants to fix me up with his girlfriend’s grandson.”
He stared at her. “I…I’d like to reassure her that I’m fine. Not lonely. Not… unattached.”
“Are you lonely and unattached?” she asked.
“No, and yes,” he said, irritated. “That’s why you’re here. The unattached part.”
Lark stopped chewing. “Say again?”
“I would like you to be my companion at family functions this summer and my guest at my sister’s wedding.”
Ah ha. He wanted her to pretend to be his girlfriend, bless his heart. Based on this interaction, however, she’d actually rather give her bone marrow. “Um, I’m sorry, I doubt I’m the person for the job.”
“I’ll pay you for your time, of course.” His voice was flat.
Lark choked on her wine, recovered, and wiped her lips with her napkin. “Um, isn’t that illegal?”
“No, Dr. Smith, paying for sex is illegal. Paying for your company is not.”
“Right. So I’d be an escort? An amateur escort.”
“I suppose.” He shifted in his seat, the only sign of his discomfort.
“Why not just get a girlfriend? You’re not ugly, and you make a great living.”
“I don’t know any women I’d want to date, and I don’t have the time to find one. You’re attractive and not entirely stupid, so you’ll do.”
“Not entirely stupid. I blush.” She set down her fork and blinked. “So you want to rent me? For the summer?”
Dr. Satan needed a girlfriend. That was a good one. “What’s in it for me?” she asked.
“The money, for one.” He glanced at her torso. “I’d buy you some decent clothes.”
“So I’m Julia Roberts now?”
“You haven’t seen Pretty Woman?”
God. He hadn’t seen Pretty Woman. “Get on Tinder or something. I bet you’d find someone pretty fast, Dr. Santini. Why lie to your grandmother? Just do it for real. I’m sure someone would like you.” Whoops.
“I have yet to find a woman whose company I enjoy more than solitude.”
“I’m guessing that last sentence is why you trying to rent a human, Dr. Sat—Santini.”
“Look. I’d rather pay you than lead someone on. I’m sure you’re well aware I wouldn’t date you in real life, so there will be no hurt feelings.”
Lark threw her head back and laughed, and honestly, after the day she’d had, it felt great. “Aren’t you delightful,” she said. “Well, this is a very special offer, but I have to say no. Brian? Could we have dessert menus, please?”
Brian was holding the dessert menus, conveniently.
“I can’t believe you want dessert after that enormous meal,” Dr. Satan said. “I can hear your arteries hardening.”
“I just want to run up the bill. Thanks, Brian.” She glanced at the menu. “I’ll have the chocolate torte. And a cappucino, too.”
“Of course. Sir?”
“Nothing for me,” he said, still staring at Lark.
“Be right back, then,” Brian said.
Lark looked at him, tilting her head. Plenty of women dated assholes, especially wealthy assholes. She knew (again, through the hospital grapevine) that Dr. Santini had a place here on the Cape and one in Boston. This indicated that he was loaded, given the real estate market. Surely women would be interested in him, and a man had needs, right? But maybe he was more the sex-doll type. Or asexual. That seemed more likely.
The thought that he wanted to make his grandma happy, though…that was kind of sweet.
Brian returned with her torte and coffee. “Thanks, Brian. Everything was delicious.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, blushing again.
“Bring the check in ten minutes,” said Dr. Satan. “Not before, not after.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Sorry he’s so rude,” Lark called as Brian practically ran away.
“You haven’t asked how much I’ll pay you,” Dr. Santini said.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m not interested.”
“I’m sure you have a lot of student debt.”
“I’m a doctor. Of course I do. But I generally don’t whore myself out to make payments.” She smiled as she sipped her coffee. “Just as a general practice.”
“There’d be no whoring. Just attendance at a few events and the wedding itself. All at very nice venues with good food. My family has high culinary standards, and you obviously love to eat.”
Maybe it was the alcohol, but this was getting fun. “Okay. What’s your opening offer?”
“Ten thousand dollars.”
She choked. “American dollars?”
“Yes. But you couldn’t tell anyone about the arrangement.”
“Oh. Why?” That would be much harder than just going to a few parties.
“Because it’s a small world. My sister’s a nurse at South Shore Medical Center. Nurses gossip.”
“Doctors gossip, too, Lorenzo. A lot more than nurses, in my limited experience.”
His left eyelid ticked. She took a bite of the creamy chocolate torte. She was going to ask Addison to take her here for their birthday, since Addie was loaded. “And ten grand, while a lovely number, isn’t enough to role-play all summer, especially at work. My debt is a quarter of a million dollars.” Which, of course, was her own fault. It could’ve been much less. “But I’m sure you could find someone else to take you up on your offer.”
He sighed. “Twenty-five, then.”
Her fork clattered against her plate. “Holy crap. Are you serious?” Ten percent of her student debt wiped out just like that?
Wow. A lot of money. But that wasn’t how she wanted to pay off her loans. It wasn’t honorable. She wanted to be an oncologist, beloved, devoted and, sure, well paid.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Santini. It’s, um, very nice of you to consider me, but no. It’s not really my style.”
He paused, looking at that fascinating spot over her head. “I could get you back into the oncology program. In Hyannis or somewhere in Boston.”
Lark blinked a few times. “How…how could you do that?”
He shrugged. “I carry a lot of influence. I went to Johns Hopkins with the president of Dana Farber. You’re not stupid, just embarrassingly emotional, from what I hear.” He glanced at his watch. “Twenty-five grand, and I introduce you to the right people, and the rest is up to you.”
“What if you think I’m an idiot? It would be unethical to recommend me to a profession you think I can’t hack.”
“I said I’d introduce you, not recommend you.”
Still, it would be like Bill Gates saying, There’s a young programmer I want you to meet. Obviously, she’d have to carry the ball into the end zone on her own merit. But she could do that. She would do that. “You don’t think that would be unethical?”
“No. I would never do something that would breach my ethical standards.”
“Like ask a younger doctor who works at a hospital where you’re a god to pose as your girlfriend?”
He glared at her. “You know what? The offer is off the table. I thought, given today’s professional humiliation, you might be interested in what is a completely unromantic business arrangement. Forget I asked.”
“Wait. Hold on.” She took a bite of cake, staring at him while she chewed. “What aren’t you telling me?” Because there was something, she was sure. Being single wasn’t so awful that a person would rent a date. In fact, she had the impression Lorenzo Santini liked being single. Jesus never dated, after all.
He shifted. Folded his napkin very precisely. “My grandmother was put on hospice a few weeks ago. I don’t want her to die concerned about me being too…alone.”
Oh, no. Those were two powerful words right there. Hospice…and alone. She herself knew the feeling all too well.
Dr. Satan had an Achilles heel, and it was a sick old lady. Her eyes stung with tears. If Grandpop was dying—please God, never—and told Lark all he wanted was for her to be with someone, would’t she do the same thing Lorenzo was? Just to soothe his soul for a month or two?
And let’s be honest. That introduction wouldn’t hurt. If she didn’t get back into the oncology program here on the Cape, she’d at least have a chance to try again in Boston. There was a damn good reason she’d chosen that field in the first place.
Besides, a few parties this summer in pretty places with pretty clothes…she didn’t have much of a life outside the hospital and family stuff. Maybe this would distract her from the yawning hole in her life.
“I’ll do it. No money. Maybe the introduction. We’ll see. But I’m a softie where grandparents are concerned.”
His shoulders loosened a centimeter or two.
“This is where you say thank you,” she said.
“Thank you.”
“So a few family parties, the wedding, and then we break up.”
“Yes. And if my grandmother dies before that, your services will no longer be required.”
She almost wondered if he’d prefer that. She stuck out her hand. “You have yourself a girlfriend, Dr. Satan.”
He didn’t blink. Guess he knew his nickname. “I don’t want a girlfriend. Just show up and be pleasant.” He glanced at her hand, took out his wallet and pulled out a Black Amex. “Can we be done now?”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and deeply moving novel about the unexpected rewards that come from life’s detours.

Lark Smith has always had a plan for her life. Find a fantastic guy, create a marriage as blissful as her parents, pop out a couple of kids and build a rewarding career as an oncologist.
Things aren’t going so well.
For one, the guy didn’t work out. Theoretically, she’d love to find someone else, but it hasn’t happened. Two, she’s just been transferred out of oncology for being too emotional. (Is it her fault she’s a weeper?) Three, her parents just split up.
Deviating from the plan was…well, not in the plan. A potential solution comes from the foul-tempered and renowned surgeon Lorenzo Santini (aka Dr. Satan). He needs a date this summer for his sister’s wedding. His ancient Noni wants to see him settled. In exchange, he could make a few introductions and maybe get Lark back into the field of her choice.
As a sucker for old people and fake relationships, Lark agrees. Teeny problem—she instantly falls for his big, warm family. Especially his estranged brother.
Meanwhile, Lark’s mom has moved in with Lark’s colorful landlady, Joy, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. The three women have a long summer and a big beautiful house on the ocean to figure out what’s next…and quite possibly learn that the best things in life aren’t planned at all.
Book Links:  Amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than twenty novels, which have been translated into nineteen languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Entertainment Weekly, People, Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist.

The happy mother of two absolutely lovely grown children and a smitten grandmother, Kristan enjoys gardening, mixology, the National Parks and being overly helpful to strangers. She lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband, cuddly dog and indifferent cat.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |

32 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by Kristan Higgins”

  1. Leeza Stetson

    Yes, my life swerved. I had to leave school when my mother became ill and take over her business. which I knew next to nothing about. She wasn’t there to show me what to do. I had to figure it out on my own. It was a challenge. Good things cane from it. I learned a lot of things I likely never would have if I hadn’t stepped in. I still.use tide skills. I learned that I was capable of more than I thought I was. I look back on that time with fondness. It tightened the bond my.mother and I had. I eventually went back to school at an institution I probably never would have considered without the years I spent at that job, and I did well there.

  2. Mary Preston

    Yes, I was talked into going to a party. I met someone and from then on my life went off in a tangent. A bad decision then, but it made me stronger and more resilient and gave me this future that I love.

  3. anxious1959

    Bad decision, Bad marriage, Domestic violence. Learned the warning signs or red flags as they are called about men who are abusers. I learned the signs.

  4. Audrey Stewart

    I thought my forever home would be mine, but it took extensive damage due to a severe storm, and I have had to move. I am so depressed over this. I am currently looking for a place, while I try and sell my lot.

  5. Crystal

    When I was in college I thought my boyfriend at the time was going to propose to me and so did his family well imagine my surprise when he didn’t but I did highly suspect he cheated on me with a mutual friend so I had to get over that and tell myself I was better off but sometimes I wonder. I look back today and think my nonblind date that wasn’t a date on Valentine’s Day was a catastrophe and when my boyfriend broke up with me a year later on Valentine’s Day made me look at each boyfriend more carefully and want a husband and kids more

  6. Lori

    I have had one and I learned a lot about myself and the strength I had. God helped.

  7. Glenda M

    Yes. I had a fiance who started showing his true abusive self and decided to take a temporary job out of state so the company I worked at didn’t need to do layoffs. I broke the engagement, found a new job in my new state, and met my husband of 32 years.

  8. Kathleen O

    I had to make a decision 23 yrs ago to move from the city of my birth to a city 90km away from everyone I knew and loved. Seems like a small thing to do but it was major when you are in your middle 40s and going to live in a place where it takes you over an hour to get to the people you love. I moved for my job, because I knew it would be easier to find a place to live than it would to find a new job. It has worked out well for me.

  9. Rita Wray

    Sometimes you make decisions that you look back on and wish you had done differently.

  10. Diane Sallans

    When there was a big layoff at my job (one of several that had already occurred) – my Dad was 87 and really slowing down. I didn’t take another job so I could care for him – I was also tired of the corporate

  11. Summer

    Since I don’t handle change well, fortunately a truly big swerve hasn’t happened yet.

  12. Mary C

    Left work to care for my mother, when she passed, I became my father’s caregiver.

  13. Amy R

    Have you ever had to make a big swerve in your life? Yes
    Something that would dramatically change how you envisioned the future? Yes

  14. Dianne Casey

    A divorce was my bad swerve and caused me to make some big changes in my life. It also made me a stronger and more independent person.

  15. Banana cake

    When I had a stroke at 27 due to having lupus. I worked hard in pt and got better. I use it as an example that I’m tough and I can do hard things.

  16. Bonnie

    I made a big swerve in my life when I moved across the country for a job opportunity. It was a wonderful experience.

  17. Ellen C.

    My swerve was being laid off from my job. At first I was stunned, but it opened other doors for me. I was allowed extra time to spend with aging relatives.

  18. psu1493

    Q: Have you ever had to make a big swerve in your life? Yes, I have. Something that would dramatically change how you envisioned the future? Yes. What caused the swerve, and how did you handle it? My mother adopted 3 children under the age of 7 when I was 26 and I put things on hold to help her raise them. How do you view that time of life now? I think now I would have tried to have more of a life for myself. What did you learn from it? That I need to learn how to make time for me and my wants and not focus on everyone else.

  19. Texas Book Lover

    Yes, when my parents got divorced and I had to continue to work instead of go to college!

  20. Maryann

    I always seem to be swerving on to another cancer journey. This time it’s number three.

  21. Patricia B.

    I saw my life progressing from Peace Corps volunteer, to working in outdoor education either within a school district or at a State or National Park. I ended up marrying a military man, having a family, and moving frequently. The two paths did not mesh well. I did get to use my original plans a bit volunteering and working with Scouts and day camps.

  22. Terrill R

    My family (husband and young children) moved to Montreal, Quebec from Washington State sight unseen. We moved there knowing no one with a 2-year commitment and ended up staying 5 years. It was a drastic change for our family, but we immersed ourselves in the community made life-long friends.