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
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.
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.