by Dara Girard, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86231-3
Monica Dupree is a woman hiding from an abusive villain who killed her husband and targeted her as the object of his unsavory obsession. Currently, she is renting a private piece of land in Solomon Island, although her privacy is constantly intruded by the presence of folks who hold illegal dog-fighting near her place. But her peace is really in jeopardy when her landlady allows her grandson, JD Rozan, to stay awhile. You see, being a billionaire playboy is such a hard life, and the poor guy needs to get away from it all. Can they fall in love when there is trouble nipping away at Monica's heels?
Dara Girard's All I Want Is You suffers from not knowing what it wants to be. At the surface, it is packaged as a romantic suspense, but it's more of a conventional love story, with the romantic suspense parts nearly entirely narrated in flashback. It also doesn't help that this aspect of the story has a very rushed and made-up-as-we-go-along feel to it. Chunks of details that could have livened up the story - or at least explained a few things - are glossed over, leaving me to find a way to fill up the blanks in the plot. Also, important details crop up at the most convenient moments. When JD needs to fight, all of a sudden he's so good at it. I guess billionaire playboys are all Jean Claude Van Damme at heart. When Monica needs strength, she suddenly recalls that her ancestor's spirit lives in her - or something - and this ancestor has undergone the same ordeal as her, so now she's fired up to extricate herself from her situation! It's like being trapped in a falling airplane and all of a sudden the guy next to me reveals that he's actually Superman - these developments are too convenient and smack too much of the author creating last minute escape hatches for her characters.
The hero is also passed off as someone that is completely different from what he is presented as. Monica has suffered and survived some terrible ordeals, so perhaps it makes sense that she would fall for JD since she finds him to be a man who respects her and loves her instead of seeing her as an object to lust after. Except, that's not what JD is in this story. JD in this story is a pushy man who doesn't give a damn whether Monica wants him or not - he pushes her into a sexual situation and takes her for granted, making decisions for her most of the time without even consulting her. Is he better than the villain in this story? Of course. But he exhibits a benign version of the very traits possessed by the villain, which makes Monica's attraction to him most puzzling indeed. The author tells me, through Monica, what a wonderful man JD is, but what I see is a man who treats women like sex toys to be used and discarded when he's bored of them, a man who takes what he wants because he's a self-absorbed player.
The romance is also not believable, as the main characters leap into bed quickly and just as quickly announce to all and sundry that they are in love. Trust issues are magically forgotten by the last page. Still, it's nice that JD shows signs of being very generous with his money. Even if the marriage crashes and burns by the end of the year, at least Monica gets to buy pretty and expensive things in the meantime.
All I Want Is You feels underdeveloped and incomplete in many areas, and the hero is completely wrong for this kind of story. Far from being a good read, this one befuddles more than it entertains.
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