***I was provided an e-ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review***
After a year of reading mediocre and boring romances, I was glad to read All For You. Once again, Christi Barth’s writing was a refreshing surprise. While I liked the first book by her, the second book has raised my expectations for her works.
This book focuses on Casey Hobbes (forest ranger) and Zane Buchanan (author/professor). Casey is used to flirting but she has never let her heart get involved seriously. Her past left her scarred and even though she recognises that fact, she has never been tempted to risk her heart. With the arrival of Zane, everything changes. Casey is the ‘forest flirt’, and she flirts with Zane as well. To their surprise, the fireworks between them are off-the-charts. Instead of hopping into bed at the first chance, they both choose to take it slow. Maybe its more because Zane’s persuasion that they give each other a serious chance, but Casey lets herself be persuaded for the first time.
But this development doesn’t come without its own slew of complications. After her affection for Zane grows, Casey discovers that he belongs to the same group of people she has been hiding from forever. Further, Zane has a broken marriage behind him, it is bound to make him a bit wary. Still, his baggage is nothing compared to hers and while he loves making her smile, the secrets of Casey’s past might just be the end of them.
I have read romance novels with similar plots. What made this one different are the characters. Though it might take a bit of time, one still connects with them. The author pens them in a manner which provides a certain depth and it doesn’t go unnoticed. There is no childishness to suffer here. They are mature and over the course of the novel, they grow more so. Tiny amounts of banter involved at almost every other incident in the novel grants the story a lightheartedness that is refreshing. This story delves into serious issues but it never overwhelms, making it a fun read.
Casey and Zane’s relationship might have been doomed from the start, as the author clearly portrays. With Casey’s nature (due to necessity) for keeping secrets and Zane’s penchant for exploring and exposing them to the world, it is hard for them to find harmony. Both are human and both have their faults and they are equally blind to their faults as well. So where does that leave them? With both of them taking a step towards each other. It’s a romance between two people who came together because of a rarest of all chance meetings and ends with the rarest kind of happy ending.
Unlike the last time where I chose a favourite, I was happy with both the central characters this time. Zane’s honesty, his funky persona and easy sense of humour was charming, and Casey’s amusement and her reactions to almost every character in the novel was something I could connect to. I was afraid that Casey might be one of those pathetic characters who follow the two-steps-forward-one-step-back routine. It would have been justified in this situation but I would have still disliked her. But Casey never did that. If anything, she kept her fears and doubts aside because she knew and appreciated the importance of the moment and where the events were leading her. I also found Zane’s viewpoint and ability to see through the truth quite commendable.
The book has some elements of angst but once again, they are perfectly balanced with the bouts of laughter. The author has a great grasp of non-romantic relationships as well. Dawn and Casey’s relationship was sweet and full of warmth. I admired Dawn and it was only at a later stage that I realised that the story with all its bonds and web of small town connections is very intricate in its form. To pull on a single thread means creating a huge ripple effect. In this book, I actually got to see and understand what that meant.
Which reminds me, I finally came face to face with the characters involved in the romance brewing in the journal. That was a huge and adorable surprise. Now I am eagerly looking forward to what happens next.
I found the ending of All For You a bit open-ended but I think it was more because there wasn’t an epilogue than anything else. So the questions I have will be answered in the next novel, I guess. Since I am not one of the most patient people, it doesn’t sit well with me but it is something I can live with. I am eagerly looking forward to Ward’s story and Joel’s story. I loved the revelations about both of them (direct or indirect) and I can’t wait to see more of the amazing characters that Barth has created. Though it has been written from multiple points of view, this book still retains distinguishing qualities for the narrative views of different characters.
On a side note, I was happily surprised to realise how apropos the cover and the title is to the story. I felt something similar for Up To Me, but it was more apparent for All For You.
I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of All For You and I am glad I got my hands on its ARC. My anticipation was not in vain. All For You was a fun read with exactly the perfect amount of emotions, angst and laughter.