All I Want
I’ve read a number of books by Jill Shalvis, and for the most part I’ve found them all to be solid, likeable books. All I Want continued that trend, and even if it’s not heading directly to my DIK shelf, I’d certainly recommended it as a decent read when you don’t have anything else grabbing your attention.
Zoe Stone is a pilot-for-hire living a quiet life in Sunshine, Idaho when her brother asks if his college friend Parker can stay with her for a few weeks. After an attempt to catch a smuggler went bad, Parker’s been sent on vacation from his job chasing down criminals for U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Staying in Sunshine will conveniently allow him to stay on the trail of the smuggler—although no one, neither Zoe nor his boss, is aware that this is his plan. All Zoe knows is that there’ll be some guy living with her for a little while.
As Zoe soon discovers, Parker is an attractive guy who’s rather attracted to her himself, but who isn’t too excited by the prospect of a real relationship and the sharing of personal information that relationships generally entail. Although he’s clear that he wants her, Parker also tells Zoe not to indulge in the three W’s: wondering, wishing, and worrying. As far as he’s concerned—at least initially—everything in Sunshine is just a temporary convenience as he works on catching a smuggler.
There are a number of things to enjoy about this book. First, I liked that Parker eventually came clean with Zoe about a lot of his secrets, particularly the fact that he works as a special agent for U.S. Fish and Wildlife and not just a game warden. I’ve seen too many couples almost derailed by one or the other lying about their profession, so it was extremely refreshing to watch as, when prickly Zoe confided in him about an old mistake, Parker responded by letting her know the truth of his occupation.
I also appreciated the detail about each character’s family life, particularly in the form of Parker’s younger sister. She is just turning 18 as the book opens, and has Down syndrome, which has caused a bit of a rift between Parker and his parents. He wants her to feel capable of adventuring outside their hometown, while his parents would rather she stayed in an environment where she was comfortable. This sort of difference of opinion is something found in every family—not a deeply traumatizing backstory, but just a fact of life that gives you a little more insight into someone’s character. Zoe’s difficult relationship with her parents does much the same thing, providing insight without seeming overdramatic or unrealistic.
Beyond these good parts, though, I will confess to being a little bothered by how quickly their relationship developed. It’s not uncommon for characters to fall in love extremely fast in romance novels, but I’ve never really been one for such books. If one of my friends declared herself in love after only knowing someone for a week, I’d be a little suspicious, a little worried that things were developing too fast. Consequently, each time Zoe and Parker marveled that it had only been a week—or less—that they’d known each other, I was pulled out of the story. Zoe greets him with a kiss when they first meet (thinking he’s her date), waffles about getting involved with him, and then finds herself head-over-heels just days later. That’s too fast for me to be quite comfortable with.
Taken all together, I’d say this was a solid B. Not much bothered me throughout it, but not much excited me either. I’ve pulled out a couple of main points but honestly don’t have much more to say in favor of or against All I Want. It was good, definitely not a waste of time, although not necessarily something I plan on rereading soon.