Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review - All of You by Christina Lee

Title: All of You
Series: Between Breaths #1
Author: Christina Lee
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Pages: 218
Goodreads Rating: 3.98 Stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
My Content Rating: 18+ (Explicit sex)

Summary from Goodreads: Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor. He's irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin.

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she's perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother's bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won't accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too.

So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.

This book is actually really hard for me to review because there were things about it that I LOVED!  I was really hooked on the story and read it in no time flat and put the book down feeling all happy inside.  So, why the 3.5 star rating instead of a loved-it sort of rating?  Well, there were just some things that bothered me - that I couldn't ever quite get out of the back of my mind.  Read on to find out what.

The negatives:
  • Bennett's virginity.  Okay, here's the thing.  I was really kind of excited to read a book that turned the stereotypes around and gave us a virginal guy (who's totally hot) and a player girl.  And when I found out Bennett's reasons for being a virgin, I could totally respect him and found it believable - he wanted to wait for love and for commitment because he'd seen how casual sex had adversely affected his family and he didn't want to do himself or to a girl he cared about. Totally sweet and amazing, right?  He didn't want that intimacy without love and at least some type of commitment. Except, once it came down to it, Bennett's definition of sex turned out to be a bit narrow in my opinion.  Apparently, everything except actual intercourse was pretty much fine.  At first I just wanted to be aggravated at Avery for pushing him into something he didn't really totally want (well, he wanted it, but he didn't want to want it, if you know what I mean).  But then we find out that this isn't the first time he's crossed these lines anyway, and I kind of lost a tiny bit of respect for him.  Speaking of Avery's pushing - I have to think that if the roles were reversed back to the normal stereotype and Avery was the guy pushing the virginal girl into more than she wanted or was ready for, we'd be hating on him.  It's kind of sad that it seems more okay the other way.  For a book about a virgin, there was a lot of sex and I just wish that if Lee was going to give her main character these ideals, she would have had him stick to them a bit more.  The sexual tension was there - we didn't need them to act on it to the extent that they did to keep us interested (at least I didn't).  Plus, I expected some sort of declaration of love and commitment before Avery and Bennett did actually do the deed - but it didn't really work that way.  Yes, we knew from being in Avery's head that she was pretty much there and we definitely knew that Bennett loved Avery, but the actual words weren't spoken and no promises were made. It felt like, once again, Bennett's ideals were kind of left behind in the moment, which disappointed me.
  • The romance.  The parts of this book that didn't have to do with sex, I loved.  I adored Bennett and Avery together and there were some incredibly romantic moments that made me melt, especially the scenes that had to do with Bennett's art, his love of poetry or the meaning of his tattoos.  And there were some super sexy moments that happened outside of the bedroom that I loved too (the chemistry between these two was off the charts!)  I loved the connection that Avery and Bennett had with each other and it broke my heart when Avery couldn't work her issues out enough for them to be together.  I couldn't put this book down because I needed these two to get together - it was killing me!  Bennet was such an amazing person in so many ways - the way he loved his family, his artistic spirit, the way he cared enough to get to know Avery even when she made it really difficult - honestly he's one of my favorite book boyfriends (if he'd just stuck to his ideals a bit more he would have definitely ranked right up there at the top of the list).
  • Mrs. Jackson.  Mrs. Jackson is a sweet surrogate grandmother figure that plays a really pivotal role in Avery's life and really gets her to re-evaluate her choices.  I loved her!!  She was a spitfire and full of wisdom and just an incredible voice of reason in Avery's crazy world.  Scenes with Mrs. Jackson were both funny and touching.
  • How the past molds our present.  I loved the fact that Avery and Bennett came from very similar backgrounds and yet their responses to their environments were polar opposites.  This is so true in life.  Even though they chose different paths, Avery and Bennett could both understand where the other was coming from because they had a connection based on their pasts.  This made their relationship that much stronger.
So, in the end, I do really recommend this book.  Even though it's not perfect, it was a fantastic read and it pulled me through every emotion imaginable.  I struggled with my rating of this one, but in the end decided on 3.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and Penguin in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***