All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Probably wrongly, I feel a little bit misled by this book. Based on the cover, the title and the release date of October I kind of thought that this was going to be a Christmas romance and unfortunately it’s not. I no doubt should have paid a bit more attention to the blurb but I just got too excited about a Claudia Carroll Christmas story. I absolutely loved Meet Me In Manhattan and would probably rate it as one of my all time favourite Christmas romances.
Alas in this case it was not to be. That’s not to say this is not a great story, because it is. It’s the story of two women, Kate and Tess who are at very different points in their lives. Kate’s marriage to billionaire Damien King is over and Tess is planning her wedding to art historian Bernard. Their lives intersect one day on the Ha’penny bridge, when Tess comes across Kate in tears, and then a couple of years later when Tess is called for jury duty and ends up embroiled in a legal dispute between Kate and Damien over a painting.
The chapters alternate between Tess and Kate for the most part (Bernard gets a couple of chapters) with Tess’s chapters set in the present and telling the story of her wedding plans, the court case and her relationship with Bernard, his family and hers. Kate’s chapters are mostly flashbacks, telling the story of her relationship with Damien from their first meeting to the events that resulted in them in court battling over custody of a painting.
I have to admit that initially I found the story a little on the slow side and this wasn’t helped by the fact that I didn’t really take to either Tess or Kate. Both came across as quite weak characters, with Tess particularly frustrating me with her blindness to the fact that she and Bernard were a complete mismatch.
Where the story really picks up however is when the court case begins. I really enjoyed Tess’s attempts to get out of jury duty and loved some of the conversations between the jurors who are primarily composed of pensioners.
I don’t think I ever took to Kate unfortunately and this is probably the main reason why I rated it as I did. The flashbacks were interesting but as a lot of them were in the form of newspaper articles it was kind of difficult to get that connection. She felt a bit absent to me and honestly I don’t think I cared what the outcome of the case would be.
Bernard and his family were also a little annoying to me. They were just that bit too stereotyped as socially awkward, eccentric, intellectuals. I think I spent most of the story waiting for Tess to come to her senses and call the wedding off which I suppose in a way did keep me reading.
As a Claudia Carroll book it is well written and there is some fantastic dialogue but it just seemed to be missing that little spark for me.
Overall, therefore I’d say good rather than great.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb (from GoodReads)
A gorgeous story of chance meetings and unexpected friendships . . . because sometimes what you’ve always wished for isn’t necessarily what life has in store . . .
Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?
One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…
All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…
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