All I Want Is You
Although Toni Blake is one of my authors I automatically read, my enjoyment of All I Want Is You had its ups and downs. I started off really loving the book, but the middle got too screwball and cheesy. By the end, I felt better, but still couldn’t bring myself back up to how much I enjoyed the beginning.
Christy Knight, whom we met in the Destiny, Ohio series, has lost her parents to a fire and is trying to make a life for herself after this tragedy. I started off so pleased with this book because Christy is renting a junky place, and barely scraping by. She is supposed to be twenty-four, and, being that age, it was a nice change to see a heroine who is living a life I can relate to. As much as I enjoy contemporary romances, the leads are typically women at or nearing thirty, with inexplicably great jobs that are willing to let them off work for weeks at a time to return to their home towns, and fall in love with a sexy sheriff. This is not the world I live in. Nor do I live in the weird, obnoxious world of the New Adult romances, where every guy is a bad boy with a heart of gold and all the girls are virgins that never seem to need jobs. So I was ready to applaud Blake for showing a heroine who is in the very real in-between stage of life where things are still a challenge, yet not as immature as New Adult. From Blake’s dedication, it sounds like Christy’s roommate and living situation were inspired by her own life.
In addition to her own struggles to support herself, Christy learns that her grandfather is in danger of being kicked out of his retirement home, due to an inability to pay. She is determined to find a way to get the money to help him. Her idea, albeit kind of a harebrained one, is to find a rich guy to date, or possibly marry, who can help her with her financial woes. Although, normally, this kind of scenario would make the heroine dislikable, I didn’t mind it too much. Christy’s attempts are pretty lame, but it is hard to hold much against her. Trust me, my friends and I have all discussed our desire to marry rich and leave our troubles behind at least once. I’ve still got my fingers crossed that it will happen.
Through a mishap, Christy meets Jake. He’s a rich guy turned home flipper and handyman. He is living in the house across from Christy as he fixes it up, hoping to turn around and sell it for a profit. While Christy is attempting, pretty poorly, to be a gold digger, Jake decides to conceal his own financial state and let her think he is just a handyman.
The pair decides to hit the road together to visit Christy’s grandfather in Coral Cove, Florida. Jake’s reasoning for going along, and Christy’s total lack of questioning over why he is willing to fund this trip, was kind of a sticking point for me, but I didn’t care too much. Once they were on the road, and steaming up a rundown motel, I remembered that I actually really like road trip romances. They aren’t all that easy to find, but something about being stuck in a car and hotels together works for me. Up to this point, I would’ve gladly given the book an “A”.
Christy and Jake’s time in Coral Cove is what dragged the rating down, for me. I have a pet peeve about small town romances with overly quirky characters. Some people must love these fictional tiny towns where every resident is some screwball with nothing to do but meddle in young people’s love lives, but I hate them. Coral Cove sports a hotelier (although that’s a pretty fancy term for someone who owns a place called The Happy Crab) who keeps Fifi the iguana on a leash, a lovelorn tightrope walker, a man with a penchant for odd hats, and a meddling grandfather. The grandfather was too stereotypical for me to enjoy, and I found myself skimming his backstory. Any time an elder in a book tells the hero/heroine that they can see romance blooming between the leads, the book loses points with me. Also, too conveniently, Christy’s friends from Destiny show up so we can get a recap of what’s happened to them since their respective books, and so they can also give love advice. What’re the chances that the leads from the last book, who probably should barely even know Christy, decided to take a vacation in nowhere, Florida at the exact time Christy is there with Jake? By the time the first “You go, girl” was said, I was rolling my eyes and All I Want Is You had lost its initial charm.
Coral Cove is also apparently the magical town where you can make big bucks selling up-cycled jewelry and where you fall in love unreasonably fast. I mean really, Jake and Christy know each other like a week and half and they’re madly in love. Maybe that iguana has special love spell juju that makes you fall head over heels if you hook up in its motel.
The conflict between Christy and Jake, which I’m sure you can guess, has to do with his hidden wealth, felt sort of forced. Although, I was pleased with how it was resolved. Once they got back to the city, things leveled out. The book went back to the realism it started with that I had enjoyed. Christy had grown up some, which was needed. I just wish it had been enough to salvage the book for me.
I hate those instances where you want to love a book, but you just can’t. That is what happened with All I Want Is You. It has sizable chunks that were exactly what I wanted; real life problems, a city, a road trip, and a young heroine. Yet I just couldn’t get passed how disjointed the middle of the book felt. I normally expect a little more believability from Toni Blake, but that didn’t happen in Coral Cove. It was almost like a Susan Elizabeth Phillips take on a Florida town and, if that’s what I had been looking for, it might have worked. Sadly, I prefer my Blake reads to be more true to life, and with a little more angst, than this book delivered.