Desert Isle Keeper Review

All I Ever Wanted

Kristan Higgins
August 2010, Contemporary Romance
HQN, $7.99, 416 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373774583

Grade: A-
Sensuality: Subtle

It may sound trite, but when I read All I Ever Wanted, I laughed. I cried. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Callie Grey just turned thirty, is living with her grandfather, and is in love with her boss-slash-ex…who is now seeing another woman in the office. However, despite the Love of Her Life’s disinterest and some truly unique family drama, Callie is still holding out for her Happily Ever After. Enter Ian MacFarland, the town’s new vet and Callie’s polar opposite, personality-wise. She’s talkative, charming, and friendly. He’s formal, shy, and awkward. However, as the two spend more time together, Callie begins to realize that maybe her image of Happily Ever After isn’t quite accurate.

Kristan Higgins has a gift for creating realistic, relatable heroines. Callie is funny, sincere, and strikes utterly true. She has a strong voice and lots of funny little quirks that make her unique and interesting, and seeing her develop as a character and as a person throughout the story was delightful. Ian is a bit of an enigma; As the book is narrated in the first person, we never see things from his perspective and must figure out what he’s thinking and feeling through what Callie sees. Though they are such polar opposites in a lot of ways, they fit well together and balanced each other. I do wish we had a bit more of a clue as to what Ian was feeling throughout the book. His stoicism didn’t exactly lend itself to double-entendres and cryptic declarations of feelings. I probably liked Callie better than I liked Ian, but that’s probably just because we didn’t get to know him as well. He is a good guy, even if a slightly awkward one.

There’s also a great cast of secondary characters, and I loved the setting of a small town in Vermont. The character Higgins infuses into the town and its residents added an extra dose of cute into the story.

As funny as the story is, there’s also a strong emotional component. Despite some comical mishaps and Callie’s (bubbly, wry, humorous) narration, this story is in no way a farce or just a fluffy romance. I didn’t lie before -- I did cry reading this book. In addition to the strong connection I developed with Callie, there are also some very emotional and difficult moments that ground this story and keep it from being too cute. As sad as some parts were, it made the story all the better.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book. Go get it. Read it. Love it.

-- Jane Granville

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