All That You Are
I love straight contemporary romances, without a hint of mystery or suspense. I enjoyed Stef Ann Holm’s All That You Are, and can recommend it to readers who appreciate character-driven, slow-paced romances.
Dana Jackson owns the Blue Note bar in Ketchikan, Alaska. Aside from running the bar, about all Dana can find time to do is care for her five-year old son.
Dana gave up hopes of a meaningful relationship, when she was abandoned by her son’s father after telling him she was pregnant. None of the Alaskan town’s residents offer promise as a husband, and she’s not interested in a short-term relationship with one of the many “lower 48-ers” who come through town on cruise ships or fishing trips. And she’s really not interested in starting something with Mark Moretti.
Mark, in Alaska for a long fishing trip, was attracted to Dana the moment he spotted her in the bar. In fact, he was so attracted that he continued to stare at and flirt with her until she kicked him out. Not exactly a promising start, but Mark isn’t one to give up, and soon he’s able to help Dana.
The fire marshal recently inspected the Blue Note and Dana must make major repairs or the bar will be shut down. Mark offers to do the work himself and cover the costs. He works for his family’s construction business, and when his father died, Mark found himself at loose ends. Of course Dana questions Mark’s motives, but gradually realizes that he has issues of his own, so takes him up on the offer.
This is a character-driven romance, in which we gradually learn more about Mark and Dana, as they oh-so-gradually learn about each other. Nothing truly remarkable happens; the focus is on the characters. I found Dana and Mark to be interesting, non-stock characters. Mark can be a smart ass at times, and I appreciated how Dana called him on it. He has an interesting past, as he planned on being a professional skateboarder until an adolescent injury took away that dream.
The author uses nice, small touches to flesh out the characters. We regularly see Dana at work in all aspects of running the bar, and we get to see Mark doing work he loves renovating it.
I have problems with romances in which the hero and heroine jump into bed with each other within days of meeting, and then declare their love for each other and end up married. That doesn’t happen here. In fact, if you like a fair amount of sex with your romance, this won’t be the book for you. I appreciated the gradual build-up of the relationship between Dana and Mark, and enjoyed getting to know them and the rest of the characters in town.