All Shook Up
If you’re like me, the sight of Susan Andersen’s name on a silly cartoon cover makes you look forward to a few hundred pages of funny, sexy entertainment. All Shook Up does not disappoint, but neither does it contain any big surprises.
J.D. Carver is a survivor of the foster care system, and the only person he ever really loved betrayed him in a way that still bothers him. He lives in a very rough world where friendship means you owe somebody and betrayal could mean death. Dru Lawrence is a nice girl, with a loving family, a responsible job and a ten-year-old son to raise. They couldn’t be more unsuited to each other – or so they think when they first meet.
J.D. unexpectedly inherits half of a resort called the Star Lake Lodge from Dru’s great-aunt Edwina. Edwina took care of him during one vital year of his adolescence, and then hurt him in a way she always regretted. The lodge is owned by Dru’s family, and the Lawrences are shocked to discover that half of their family-owned business now belongs to an outsider – and a restless, predatory sort of outsider at that. Dru is even more shocked to discover that she is very attracted to J.D., in spite of his obvious unsuitability. She tries to make the best of the situation, showing J.D. around the place, but his attitude doesn’t help. J.D. is convinced that the Lawrences intend to scam him out of his half of the lodge, and he is deliberately rude to her.
As in the other Andersen books I’ve read, the temperature between these two shoots through the ceiling every time they lay eyes on each other. When they’re not losing their tempers they can’t keep their hands off each other. But there’s more going on here – J.D.’s good buddy from back home is looking for him, and it’s clear that there will be trouble when he finds him.
I enjoyed every page of All Shook Up, because the protagonists are so fun. J.D. is a yummy bad boy, emotionally conflicted and sexy as can be. Dru is the kind of woman you might be friends with: smart, a good mom, thinks her butt is too big. But she’s got the guts to stand up to J.D. at his worst. There are some nice supporting characters here, too: I really liked the relationship between Dru’s uncle and aunt, and the way they use humor to survive the up-and-down symptoms of her menopause. I also liked how Andersen handled the bad guy. He’s not one of those depthlessly evil villains; at worst, he’s a little immature. But the fact that he regards himself as a nice person doesn’t lessen the enormous amount of damage he does.
None of my problems with the book are all that serious, but I did have some. Dru’s ten-year-old son seems like he’s six, tops (if a ten-year-old boy launched himself into my arms from the top of the stairs, as little Tate does into Dru’s arms, he’d knock me over backwards). There’s a secondary romance between Dru’s best friend and another character that felt like pointless filler to me. And All Shook Up doesn’t offer anything really new to Andersen fans. My favorite of her books, Be My Baby, was filled with surprises. This book is not.
Still, Andersen’s latest romance is lots of fun from beginning to end. It’s the perfect book for the beach – or, since this is winter, it’s a good book for a hot bath.