All the Things You Are

Title: All The Things You Are
Author: M. Jules Aedin and Anna J. Linden
Publisher: Dreamspinner press
Genre: Contemporary M/M, interracial
Length: Novella (88 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

THE BLURB

Bryant is a college football star from Alabama who is as closeted about his romantic personality as his sexuality. Kai is a Japanese-American anthropology student who believes romance and marriage are empty societal constructs. When they meet by chance in San Francisco, they’re swept away by their mutual attraction. But if they want a relationship to survive, they both must learn to see past their differences to accept each other for who they are.

THE REVIEW

Bryant’s dreams about being a football star were crushed when he suffered a career ending injury. Although it was the end of one important chapter of his life he was relieved that he would not have a pro football career like his friend Jamal because he didn’t want to be under the glare of the lights, cameras and all the attendant publicity. He relocated to California shortly after because he wanted to experience what life as a gay man was like as he could not reveal his sexual orientation at home in Alabama due to the strong religious background of his family.

After he arrived in San Francisco he started exploring and walking around to get to know the neighbourhood. On this particular day he stopped and rested for a while due to the physical pain caused by his injury. As he was waiting for the pain to subside he noticed someone struggling with several boxes in his arms, and at first he  thought the person was a woman because of his small build and long hair but Kai  soon disabused him of that idea when they had a minor tug of war for the boxes. After the boxes were rescued Kai who was a massage therapist, noticed that Bryant was limping as he was leaving so he offered to give him a massage as repayment for helping with the boxes. That evening Bryant dropped by to see Kai and invite him out to dinner,  but instead they had dinner in, and this led to their initial attraction blossoming into something much deeper. Kai and Bryant couldn’t stay away from each other after that first night and Bryant ended up sleeping over and spending a lot of time at Kai’s place.  Two weeks later when Kai’s roommate moved out Bryant moved in. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction for our newly minted lovers, except for one major stumbling block, their philosophical disagreement about commitment and love and marriage which led to Bryant taking a time out without telling Kai.

I must admit that I did have a problem with Bryant’s characterization. His ideas around love and commitment at such a young age seemed unrealistic; this was his first big romance and it did seem highly unlikely that a young man would be so focused on marriage. Kai’s characterization on the other hand was more practical and seemed realistic. The issue about marriage appeared to me to be the usual Big Misunderstanding in M/M books to create conflict, and while this might have been relevant for a couple who had been together for much longer, a few weeks of togetherness didn’t seem to be enough time to get to know someone much less want to marry him. In addition, Bryant’s way of dealing with his feelings was not to talk to Kai but to stay away without leaving a message about where he was going. He had not even discussed the matter with the man he professed to love before he decided that the only way to clear his head was to be away from Kai. As a reader it occurred to me that Bryant was so immature about the way he handled his issue that he definitely was not ready for a big step like marriage.

All The Things That You Are has a lot to recommend it including the writing which was very good, and I really liked Kai’s character. Bryant was pretty mixed up and needed some time to grow up but he was very likable and a fun character. Even though I had difficulties with some aspects of Bryant’s character I would recommend this book to readers who want a quick read with an HEA, and are not looking for something with a lot of emotional depth.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

12 comments

  • Hi Larissa
    Jules said that getting married very young is apparently the rule not the exception in the South where she is from. Why knew. 🙂 It was really a good read except for this one area for me which I now find out is not that unusual.
    *
    I should also mention that the other concern I had was about Bryant’s maturity since he did not discuss anything with Kai but chose to leave.

    Reply
  • Sounds like a good read! I’ll put it on the list!
    *
    It’s not quite that uncommon for people so young to think of love and commitment. It happens when they grow up in certain circumstances. Especially small towns where getting married is a big deal. Personally, I wouldn’t dream of it 😉
    *
    Thanks for the review 🙂

    Reply
    • Eve
      I have a couple more of her books to read and review and I was quite pleased with this one, other than my only quibble about Bryant. I really like her writing style.

      Reply
  • Ooookay, the internet ate my comment. *ahem* Let’s try this again.

    Wave: Yeah, some guys are into being wild and free, but someone as strongly romantic as Bryant would definitely be into the marriage idea. (It’s a good thing he knew he was gay, or he’d have probably married some hapless girl straight out of HS and that would’ve been a mess. I wish that didn’t happen as often as it does.)
    *
    I do feel the story suffered from the upper word limit (which we were WAY over in our original draft and had to cut things out of). We tried on an ambitious story for that word length, really. I’m glad you enjoyed it despite that, though! 🙂
    **
    Tam: I have a feeling Bryant actually has a bit of a psychological disorder. 😉 (That being the psych major in me talking.)
    *
    There is actually more we have in mind for them. We have plans for a fun mini-honeymoon story that would go up for free on my website and bridge the time between All the Things You Are and the novel we have planned, tentatively titled Sweet Home. But AJL and I are both braindead at the moment, so no guesses on when that will be. 🙁 Sorry.

    Reply
    • Jules
      Please send me a link when you have the free read about Bryant’s and Kai’s honeymoon. Do you know what I loved best about this couple? Bryant’s wish to bottom. 🙂
      *
      If you do write another story about them I would love to read it as well.

      Reply
  • I really enjoyed this book although I wanted to smack Bryant at the end when he took off. But I did love him and Kai together. Jules explanation above makes even more sense. Those southerners are odd. 😉 Kidding, really.
    *
    Any chance we’d see more of those two Jules or is that it for them?

    Reply
  • Hi Jules
    I never knew that guys were into getting married at a very young age in the South. Isn’t youth the time when you sow your wild oats? I thought that only girls had this fixation about weddings. 🙂
    I really enjoyed the book and this was the only area where I had a problem.
    *
    >>Note to self: Explain more next time.< < That would be an excellent idea Jules. 🙂

    Reply
  • Thanks, Wave! I grew up in Alabama, and Bryant was actually characterized after a few guys I knew. Marriage is really emphasized in the South, and it’s not uncommon (although it’s changing a little bit) for teenagers to get married right out of high school. My parents, for example, had to get my grandparents to sign for my Dad because he was still 17. That’s still not unusual. Note to self: Explain more next time. 😉

    Thank you for the kind review!

    Reply

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: