"I yearned for love. I’d have it, and now with any ordinary boy, either. It would be overwhelming, undeniable, meant to be Love with a capital L. The kind that caused Johnny Depp to swing from a rope outside the mental hospital in Benny & Joon. The kind that made John Cusack hold up the boom box in the pouring rain so Peter Gabriel could do the talking for him."All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins falls neatly into the romance genre- one I would usually avoid reading. However like all genres, when done well I can certainly enjoy them, and fortunately All I Ever Wanted is a fun, sweet, and well written novel which makes it clear that Higgins is talented at what she does. The story focus on Callie Grey who turns thirty at the beginning of the novel, while working in marketing and waiting for boss/first kiss/the man she has been in love with for years Mark to finally propose, or at least ask her to be in a relationship. When it turns out that Mark has actually been dating a client's daughter for months- a woman who is now coming to work with Callie and Mark at the company, well let's just say it's not how she expected to start her 30th year. Mark is all she ever wanted, but as the novel progress will Callie finally realize that maybe he isn't what she needs? In the meantime Callie pursues a friendship with the new standoffish vet, Ian, who may have more than a touch of goodness hidden beneath his cool exterior.
For a romance novel, All I Ever Wanted is actually almost entirely PG rated which was a little bit of a surprise. The main relationship focus of the novel- Callie and Ian- takes almost the entire book to actually get going which I found a little surprising and admit at times I was a little impatient for them to get together, however instead of rushing into Higgins allows the characters to grow and get over their past relationships (mostly) first. The huge cast of secondary characters actually managed not to blur together once I got a hang of who was who because they were all so different- from Fleur with her fake British accent, Annie with her grade school romance, Hester with her focus on family without a man, and especially Noah, Callie's grandfather who she lives with and who was warm-hearted and reminded me a little bit of my own late grandfather with his miniature wood carvings as my grandfather used to carve family members walking sticks. The scenes between Callie, who offered to move in with Noah following his stroke and loss of his leg, had nothing to do with romance but were often the most touching ones.
All I Ever Wanted is not a perfect book, Callie hears the voices of Michelle Obama and Betty Boop in her head which I thought was both a little silly and repeated a few more times. I also found a few characters, notably Louis the mortician's assistant and Callie's mother, verged a little on caricature. However Higgins tells a cute, if predictable, story with quirky characters and if you're looking for a good romance novel to read, All I Ever Wanted is likely all you could ever want.
Number of Pages: 409 pages
Published: July 2010
Source: FSB Associates (Review Copy)