Love is All You Need
About halfway through Love Is All You Need, I realized its humor was closely akin to slapstick. I’d made a few judgments about the unlikely nature of the character’s responses when I found myself easily accepting the fact that the heroine had just slugged the hero. I didn’t think he deserved it but he didn’t have a problem with it and it dawned on me that I needed to lighten up – this was comedy and not meant to be taken seriously. Still, despite the fact that there were some touching moments that carried a hint of solemnity, overall this lighthearted book simply doesn’t rank above the ordinary.
Del Montgomery often reassures herself of her success as an auctioneer at one of the Midwest’s premiere auction houses by grasping the string of pearls she always wears around her neck. They were a present from her employer after her first successful sale and made her more eager than ever to demonstrate her worthiness for such a gift. So when said employer asks her to go to southwestern Missouri to search out the Unruh Pig, a rare and very valuable piece of pottery from the early 1900s, Del is anxious to prove she is up to the job although her boss gives her no indication where she may find the treasure other than Allen County. It seems strange to her that it is so near her hometown of Docia, which she left seven years ago, swearing never to return.
Sam Samson, auctioneer and owner of Samson Auctions, hasn’t yet made the success of his business he always envisioned. Barely scraping by to make his next payment to the bank, Sam knows that somewhere out there is the one rare piece that will provide him the money he needs to get his business off the ground, give him plenty of press, and firmly establish his reputation as a leading auction house. He’s already run the competition out of town and he’s known for his ability to work a crowd and inspire people to bid, buy, and keep bidding. In his spare time, he searches for that one item to give him his big break and figures southwestern Missouri is a good as place as any to pull such a trick out of his hat. Sam also feels responsible for his cousin Becca’s financial well-being and won’t be satisfied until he earns enough money to make a success of his business and provide her with enough money to comfortably make a living from her restaurant, The Bunny Hutch.
When Del arrives in Missouri, it’s not long before she is at The Bunny Hutch visiting with the locals attempting to get the first lead in her secret search for the Pig. Del doesn’t really like to think of herself as a con artist, but after seeing her father con his way through life she knows she has those tendencies. Her clumsy attempts to gather facts while remaining incognito combined with her indulgence in multiple jelly-filled doughnuts make Del a likable, albeit slick, character. The locals tell Del that Sam is the one to help her hunt for collectible pigs and she heads off to locate the auctioneer, assuming he will be another womanizing shyster with a beer gut who slaps men’s backs and women’s butts.
Determined to set a trap for Sam, at their first meeting Del dons her man-eater shoes and unfastens a few more buttons on her shirt and expects to have him eating out of the palm of her hand within minutes of her arrival. She plans to so completely overwhelm him with her sexuality that he will give her any information she wants. But Sam isn’t close to Del’s expectations nor is he fooled in the least by her vampish behavior. A manipulative sexual come-on is not on my list of favorite behaviors for a heroine but I found myself laughing at Del’s efforts before page twenty. Del can’t help but be attracted to Sam with his edge that says “don’t tread on me” and she finds his take-no-flack attitude as sexy as hell. He is completely arrogant and annoying, but smart and sneaky as well – traits Del can appreciate. I wish I had seen more of this edge and attitude in Sam but I saw a fairly gentle hero who was more compliant than arrogant with Del, who was more pushy than sensitive. At times, I really wanted Del to lighten up and quit complaining.
Sam knows Del is not being up-front about her reasons for needing his services and once his suspicions about her are confirmed, it’s a race to see who can find the Pig first. Most of the book is a series of events in which Del or Sam attempt to get the better of the other while fighting an extreme sexual attraction. I couldn’t quite figure out why Sam thought he had a right to the pig if he found it first – it had a distinct ring of dishonesty since Del had hired him. He was fixated on beating Del at her own game and winning regardless of the outcome. The story’s farcical style draws attention to the pigs in the book, which are at every turn and grow a bit tiresome – pigs for sale, pigs that Del buys, a pet pig for Del, and the elusive Unruh Pig.
A rather boring secondary romance between Becca and another auctioneer from Del’s auction house does nothing to move the story along. The mystery of the Unruh Pig was better than average – I was wrong when I thought I had it figured out early on. But an uninspiring last few pages with an HEA that made me feel uncertain about this couple’s future left me with a rather empty feeling about the leads’ romance. I found in the end that what I enjoyed most about Love Is All You Need was its bits of slapstick humor, which isn’t saying much for me.