Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61922-889-4
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Interesting, how Arianna Hart has written quite a number of full-length titles but I have never read any of them until now. Well, today is everybody’s lucky day, because Giving It All is actually a breezy light read despite the hero Grant Anderson lugging along some pretty hefty baggage along with him as he comes back to his hometown of Dale, Georgia.
Grant is a former Navy SEAL, having been discharged after he lost his lower leg while on duty. He personally can’t stand defeat and failure, so he stayed away all this while until his father took ill and he finally made his way home. His marriage also crumbled – it wasn’t all sunshine and roses even before he lost his lower leg, and that was the last straw that drove the now ex-wife away. As you can imagine, our hero isn’t exactly smiling when he comes back.
Fortunately, Ellie Hall is still in town. She had a crush on him since, like, forever, and now that he’s back, she’s feeling like that gangly skinny girl whose brain shuts down in his presence all over again, despite the fact that she’s now all hot and sexy. She also dotes on her parents as well as his, she loves children and animals, and she also has the right amount of feisty spirit and some kookiness to round up the whole cute/kooky/sexy package the author is clearly aiming for with Ellie.
“Elyana, darling. How’s my favorite bean counter?”
“I gave Grant a blowjob in my apartment tonight and we would have had sex if his mother hadn’t interrupted us,” she blurted out.
There was dead silence.
As you can imagine, she’s more than happy to take over from where the ex-wife left and turn the story into a happily ever after one, but oh, can Grant let go of his baggage or will he be unable to see how much Ellie loves him until it’s too late?
The best thing about Giving It All is the author’s charming, breezy narrative style that makes it so easy for me to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the story. When she wants to be funny, she makes me chuckle, and when she wants to hit the mushy spots, I go, “Aww!” There is a very nice balance of humor and emotional drama here, although the angst isn’t too heavy. This isn’t a heavy duty read, it’s more like an easy-to-digest feel good story. Grant is a pretty well-balanced hero, too. He has issues, but he isn’t too obtuse or stubborn, and he can be a very memorable hero in his own right.
My only issue here is that Ellie doesn’t seem like a character as much as she is basically Grant’s trophy for having lost that first wife. Ellie is a likable thing, sure, but her feelings for Grant are static, apparently never developing or maturing after all these years. The fact that she’s so sweet, selfless, and caring only seem to be the author’s overtime efforts to make sure that our heroine is a complete 180 from that ex-wife. Grant gets the emotional development and the epiphany; Ellie exists solely to be the perfect girlfriend who has been waiting in the wings for him all this while. I can only wonder what happens a few months down the road when Ellie realizes that Grant has traits that annoy her, such as making the bathroom stink to the high heavens after he does his business, or that he chews his food very loudly. Will she still love that man no matter what, or will she be another crazy Southern chick who channels her frustrations into her taxidermy hobby?
Still, there is no denying that this book is a very charming story that can make me smile with disturbing ease. I’ve had fun, and it’s all good.