All of Me
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All of Me by Lori Wilde is a perfectly serviceable romance novel, with a few flaws. It has decent love scenes and a romantic plot, but unsympathetic characters and choppy writing ruin the fun. It is the final installment of Wilde’s “Wedding Veil Wishes” series, but it works just as well as a stand-alone novel. The one thing you have to know about the series is that the books center on a supposedly “magical” wedding veil; the legend goes that if you wear the veil you will somehow find your soul mate.

Jillian Samuels is the most recent owner of the veil. She’s a high-powered attorney from Texas—tough as nails and good at her job, but she has a few issues. One is that she doesn’t believe in true love, while the other is that she was abandoned as a child which wreaked havoc with her self esteem and ability to trust. The one person in her life whom she could depend on, her mentor, Blake, suddenly drops dead of a brain tumor and leaves Jillian his family’s lake house in his will. Jillian travels to the house, located in the charming town of Salvation, Colorado, only to find it already inhabited.

Tuck Manning was once called “The Magic Man,” and was a wildly successful architect in Manhattan, but retired to Salvation when his wife, Aimee, fell terminally ill with cervical cancer. There is a wrinkle in this story, because Aimee was also Blake’s daughter, although the man had always been more of a father figure to Jillian. It appears that Blake deeded the house to Tuck mere months before he died, only to leave it also to Jillian in his will. So Jillian and Tuck agree to live in the house as roommates while they attempt to clear up the matter of who really owns the house—and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the roommate situation leads.

Here is one of the flaws I found in the novel: Jillian is set up as the lead character, and so we’re supposed to be sympathetic with her, but Wilde spends more time delving in Tuck and his family, and Tuck’s grief over his wife, than on Jillian and her own back story. We really only learn about Jillian’s childhood and the reasons for her “ice queen” demeanor at the very end of the novel. If the reader is supposed to be fully sympathetic to Jillian, I think her back story should have come out earlier in the novel.

Another flaw I found was with the “magical wedding veil” angle. Wilde tries to put a somewhat supernatural spin on the story; while Jillian puts on the veil and has a vision of Tuck, Tuck goes into a Native American sweat lodge and has a vision of—you guessed it—Jillian. I don’t really have a problem with the supernatural aspects of the story, but the whole thing just seemed a bit out of place. Usually when there’s a fantastical angle, the author spins the whole tale around it. But in All of Me, I couldn’t tell if Wilde meant this to be a fantasy/supernatural story or a thoroughly contemporary one. And the issue of who really owns the lake house is resolved in a sort of deus ex machina from beyond the grave, which I found highly improbable and actually kind of hackneyed.

The final flaw I found had to do with the writing itself. Wilde really needs to learn to embrace the comma. She writes in short, choppy sentences, which makes for a stilted and uneven read. Reading fragmented sentence after fragmented sentence made me feel inexplicably tense. Unfortunately, it appears that more and more romance authors are adopting this “edgy” style, so perhaps I should start popping a Xanax before reading any new romance novels!

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