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Synopsis: 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.
When I first heard of Christina Lee’s All of You, I wasn’t sure what to think. Even after I read the synopsis, I wasn’t feeling the love or the urge to really read it. Virgin heroes in the past haven’t wowed me. Lee’s All of You came highly recommended by a friend and I decided to give it a try.
If Avery Michaels had a personal motto, it would probably be: love ‘em and leave ‘em. Growing up with a mother who didn’t have the best relationships with men, Avery quickly learns to avoid the trouble relationships entail. Instead, she’s satisfied with having a friend with benefits and the occasional one night stand. The night she first spots Bennett, he’s all she wants, but he ignores her. She puts the incident beyond her until she comes face to face with him in her building. He’s her newest neighbor and while he might be attracted to her, he’s looking for something more; something Avery can’t give him. Soon they develop a friendship, but when Avery’s life is threatened, they realize their feelings run deeper than friendship.
It’s not very often we get a virgin hero and it’s even more uncommon in a contemporary. In the day and age where virginity is looked down upon or the person is considered a freak, I have to commend Lee for tackling a sensitive subject. Bennett has been burned by past girlfriends especially once it’s known he’s a virgin and while he comes clean to Avery, he expects her to react the same way as others. When she doesn’t, he’s surprised and he knows she’s different.
Character development is good and we get to know both Bennett and Avery equally. Both share a similar background especially regarding their mothers. Your heart will break when you finally realize what Avery’s mother did and makes you shake your fits at the injustice of the world knowing that it does happen in real life. We have several secondary characters that you’ll adore including one of Avery’s patients, Mrs. Jackson. Lee made me wish she was real so I could hug Mrs. Jackson for being there for Avery. Then we have Avery’s friends Ella and Rachel. Plus we have Bennett’s friend Nate and an ex-girlfriend who make an appearance.
Narration is first person via Avery and while I’m not a fan of first person POV, I don’t feel as if we missed anything. It is a fast paced read and could be easily read in a few hours. If you’re looking for a big show stopping moment as to the reason for the conflict, you won’t find one. What you will do is question your own ideas regarding sex and what’s your comfort level regarding the number of sexual partners. Avery makes no apologies for her past and for a moment Bennett does make her feel ashamed of it, but in the end, she holds her head high and she refuses to let a man make her feel a certain way. I liked Lee’s message: do not be ashamed of yourself. Sure, society and people will always judge others regarding that particular number, but really whose business is it in the end?
I debated with the rating between a three and four. Even up to the moment before writing this review, I was leaning towards a three. In the end, I decided on a four because we have two characters of similar background who refuse to be defined by their past. I really liked how both Bennett and Avery got to know each other and became friends. And because of that, sex isn’t at the core of a relationship in order for two characters to be together. What a refreshing read!
If you’re a fan of New Adult, you’ll want to add Christina Lee’s All of You to your to-be-read list. For those unsure about NA, I recommend looking at sample or reading a few more reviews (both positive and negative) before deciding.
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New Adult/Young Adult author. NA Contemporary Romance, ALL OF YOU, releases September with Penguin. BEFORE YOU BREAK in 2014. Repped by Sara Megibow.
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