Mon
Sep 16 2013 9:30am

First Look: Christina Lee’s All of You (September 17, 2013)

Christina Lee
All of You
Intermix / September 17, 2013 / $3.79 digital

In this powerfully emotional debut New Adult novel, 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.

Christina Lee's debut All of You pairs a trend-setting genre and an elusive trope in a wholly unique combination: New Adult and the virgin hero. And it works. Bennett Reynolds may go down in romance history as the tattooed virgin hero whose depth and sensitivity you have to read to believe. He's a refreshing alternative to the take-charge alphas who are everywhere now. And if Bennett were to usher in a whole new archetype for the romance hero, that would be a very good thing.

Roles are definitely reversed here, as Avery Michaels is a girl who prefers her independence. She uses guys and sex for the rush and mutual satisfaction, but keeps her heart close. She's not interested in romance, connection, or a relationship. Bennett, meanwhile, is waiting for all of these.

“What's the problem, then?”

“Avery.” He reached for his shirt on the floor. “I'm... waiting.”

“Obviously,” I said. “Waiting for what?”

“For the right girl,” he said, sitting up.

So he did think I was some kind of whore. A sexy whore at that.

I balled my fists and considered using them on him. “Oh I get it, I'm nice to sleep next to and grope on the dance floor...”

I didn't know what I was getting so uptight about. He had clearly explained to me that he wanted a commitment. And I had made it clear I wasn't girlfriend material—so why did it upset me that he didn't think so, either?

“No! You don't understand, Avery,” he said. “I want you. Damn it, I want you like I've never wanted anyone before.”

“But...?”

“But...” The look in Bennett's eyes was resigned, dutiful even. “I'm a virgin, Avery.”

All of You is a study in sexual tension. Avery and Bennett are drawn together in an almost magnetic way, and this makes for those delicious toe-curling moments throughout, but they're at a stand-still. Avery can't give more than her body and Bennett won't settle for less than all of her. What they do have in common, besides smoking chemistry, is a similar upbringing and home life. The fascinating paradox is that it's their backgrounds that have made them who they are, but they're kept apart by their completely opposite responses. Yet in addition to his morals and values, Bennett is endlessly patient and sets out instead to show Avery different.

“It's a reminder to me—of two very different kinds of love.”

I held my breath, praying for him to keep going.

This man, this gorgeous man, continued to astound me at every turn. I pleaded with my eyes for him to continue.

“There's the kind of love that's unhealthy, all-consuming. You give up entirely who you are for that other person. Like my mother has done her whole damn life.”

He took a deep and meaningful breath.

“And the other kind of love is freeing. It allows you to be your best self. You're seamless when you're with the person you love unfathomably – but never invisible.”

As I sat there listening to him, something profound happened in the very center of me. Stuff began rearranging and clicking into place. My heart burst through my chest and landed at Bennett's feet – asking, pleading, begging him to smooth out her creases, sooth all her wounded parts, mend her shattered center.

As Avery lets herself go, she and Bennett remind us all that sex with love is the most powerful thing there is. This is a lovely example in a sex-saturated world that a foundation carefully built on a deeply abiding, respectful friendship that slowly simmers into something more is incredibly profound. And it sends out the best possible message to readers of every type, coming-of-age and beyond.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of All of You by Christina Lee before its release (September 17, 2013):

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble

 

 


Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.

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2 comments
Sandy Pants
1. SandyPants
Deep down inside of me I want a virgin for him, it makes no sense, and yes.. I skimmed the article and WILL re-read it.. but that's my politically incorrect gut reaction.
Tiffany Tyer
2. TiffanyTyer
@SandyPants, I totally get it. All I can say is that Avery, though she's been around, is damaged enough emotionally to still be very fragile in all things love and relationships, and in this way, Bennett fits the bill of protective hero. I didn't feel like he was shortchanged because in many ways, he was still Avery's first. I'd encourage you to still give it a read. It worked for me.
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