Everything Is You
by Donna Hill, contemporary (2012)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0373862849


Despite being yet another Kimani story set in the wedding of the characters of a previous book - the better to throw the other relatives at my face, naturally - Everything Is You is a nice change from the usual formula that confines so many titles in this line.

Jacqueline Lawson is yet another photojournalist, because that's the only job open to heroines that want to travel around the world. Still, she's different from the other renditions of the same stereotype by starting off this story already in a loving relationship with our hero, Raymond Jordan.

The thing is, she's planning to leave him. She has a medical condition that requires her to travel to New York for some experimental treatment, and since she expects her health to keep deteriorate in the coming days, she doesn't want her beloved to be saddled with her as his baggage. Of course, she can't tell him. She'll just quietly move out while he's abroad on an assignment. She plans to make one trip back home to attend her niece's wedding, and then she will completely cut off ties with the people in her life. Will there be a happy ending for her and Raymond?

This story sounds far more interesting on paper than in execution. You see, there is a nice alternative to the experimental treatment Jacqueline has signed up for, but it hinges on her mending her ties with her family. Let's just say that her relationship with her brother is complicated due to a shared tragedy in their past. Unfortunately for me, it turns out that everyone in the family is more than happy to accept Jacqueline back into the happy clan, so the whole conflict boils down to Jacqueline's determination to be a martyr and not tell anyone, even the family members that can help her, of her condition.

Since she's not feeling well at all, I don't expect her to be reasonable or sensible, so I am more than happy to go along with Jacqueline's prolonged "I have a disease, so see me martyr myself for love!" act, but still, it's a boring conflict because everyone is just waiting for someone else to spill Jacqueline's secret and they will all rush to her side. "Stubborn woman" doesn't rank high in the scale of interesting plots no matter how I look at it. Things could have been more interesting if there is some genuine family tension to overcome, but unfortunately things fall very easily into place for Jacqueline here, perhaps too easily to the point of her story being tad dull.

The author could have included some interesting family drama, mind you, but instead she opted to devote the space to love scenes after love scenes instead. Now, I know there are many readers who have exacting standards when it comes to the number and length of the love scenes in their Kimani books, if one-star reviews on Amazon criticizing a book in this line for having few or no love scenes are anything to go by, but for me, I think it's overkill to include more than one love scene here if all these love scenes have only one thing to tell me and that's how amazing sex is between Raymond and Jacqueline. Yes, yes, I know, good for them, but give me something more interesting to read, please.

Still, there is a very pleasant fantasy to enjoy vicariously here. Raymond is far more patient than he need to be when it comes to Jacqueline's mood swings and drama, but that's because he's created to be the perfect fantasy hunk. Having someone like him around when the world collapses around us is a very nice fantasy, especially when he's dependable, reliable, patience, and good at giving great TLC. He can cook amazingly too, in addition to being loaded and more than happy to drop everything in his life to run to his beloved's side and make her happy 24/7. The author may as well stamp a tattoo on Raymond's spectacular chest that says, "Don't you wish your man is as hot as me?"

At the end of the day, Everything Is You has everything it needs to become an interesting and poignant tale of love and family ties, but the author chose to make it very easy for the heroine to get her happy ending. As a result, things turn out to be far less interesting than the synopsis may suggest. This is still a very readable story, and as I've said, it's a nice change from the more formulaic story lines constantly popping up in the Kimani line. Still, I think the author could have done much more with this story.

Rating: 77


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