All I Desire
Pampered French girl inherits New Mexico cattle ranch, meets dashing Mexican cowboy, sparks love-match destined to last forever. Paints a pretty romance, don’t you think? However, Rosemary Rogers’ All I Desire is packed with quite a lot of action along side this main story-line. While much of the book worked fairly well, it suffered somewhat “kitchen-sink” plotting and unresolved conflicts.
Twenty-one year old Angela “Angelique” Lindsay, grows up in French convents, far away from the wild and intense land where she was born, conceived in a passionate fit of irresponsibility, at least according to her mother, Mignon. Despite all of Mignon’s efforts to keep her daughter in France, Angela is determined to travel to New Mexico and claim her father’s ranch, left to her in his will. Besides wanting to learn about the father she never knew, Angela has inherited her parents’ stubborn streak, and is determined not to give up her inheritance.
When Angela and her mother arrive in Texas, not only are they presented with many challenges, but about ten new characters are thrown at the reader, including Angela’s escort across the desert, the swarthy and savvy Jake Braden. Jake is immediately physically attracted to Angela and proceeds to initiate her in the arts of womanhood before Angela even arrives in New Mexico. Angela’s father has an illegitimate daughter, Rita, who actually grew up in New Mexico, and she’s been in love with Jake Braden since she was a little girl. It seems as if Angela would have had enough to handle, dealing with Rita’s jealous antics, and her mother’s nagging, but someone is out to steal her land before she has a chance to inherit.
After Angela arrives in New Mexico, the plot of the book spilts into sub-plots: Angela trying to deal with Rita, Angela trying to deal with her mother, Angela trying to figure out her relationship with Jake Braden, and Angela trying to avoid losing her land. These different story-lines forced the author to fit a lot of information into one book, leaving some of the plot lines unresolved. For example, Angela’s mother, Mignon, seemed to show a love interest in a minor character, but this was never explored. Additionally, Rita started out as a pivotal character, well-developed by the author, but plays a very minimal role in the final resolution of the book. In a very distasteful scene, Angela is almost raped by Indians who were hired to capture her in order to fake her death. The brutality of this scene bothered me. I usually don’t mind a “heroine-in-danger” scene, so that I can watch the hero swoop in and save her, but it took a while for Jake to appear. It seemed to me that Angela would have been more traumatized by the incident, while the author had her recover rather quickly.
Since I enjoy storylines that are a bit more complicated and involved than the average romance novel, I don’t normally mind a larger-than-normal number of characters and plots. But too much seemed to happen in the last third of this book; sub-plots were resolved too quickly, leaving some of them unexplored. That, and the brutality of the near-rape scene frittered away much of the potential of All I Desire, leaving it a merely average read.