on August 22, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Forbidden, Romance
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Two households. One secret that will change everything.
I was raised to believe his family was nothing but trash.I was raised to believe her family was the root of all evil.
I sent his brother to prison.I should hate her for what she did.
I’ve never fought a day in my life.I’ve fought every day of my life.
I need him to help me find answers.I need her to set the record straight.
I should stay away from him.I should walk away from her.
But I can’t.But I can’t.
*This book is a standalone, contemporary/mystery romance and is intended for readers 18 and older*
“There’re darknesses in this world and there’re lights. You’re one of the lights, the light of all the lights.”
This book is so much more than just a romance. There’s lies, deceit, betrayal, mystery and control, just to name a few. And while yes, it’s a romance book, it’s not super duper lovey. I’m fine with this, but I feel like some might not be a huge fan. The only way I can think to describe it is this: in books like The Hunger Games or Divergent, there’s a large elaborate story involving a lot of different people. While on these journeys, both Katniss and Tris happen to fall in love as well. This is sort of what I’m feeling like with All of the Lights. There are romantic elements and scenes, but the story’s sole focus is not on Rae and Jack falling for each other, it’s so much more than that.
When reading a romance novel, the first meeting between the hero and heroine is always an important one. The reader needs to be captivated, the attraction and chemistry need to be palpable, and it needs to be a strong enough connection to build an entire story off of. K. Ryan does just that with Rae and Jack. Not only did their first encounter hold all of these elements, but it was also charming and witty. I for one wouldn’t have been able to stop reading after that encounter, especially after the intense way it ended and their next explosive meeting; I was hooked in these two.
“Is it completely wrong that I’d gladly hand over my purse if he asked? […] I resist the urge to swat him on the shoulder. Do not get engage physically. Pretend he’s a creeper. God, if this is what a creeper looks like, then sign me up. He must have a waiting list.“
In a All of the Lights, the characters not only go on a quest to right a past wrong, but they start to uncover mysteries and family secrets that have long since been buried. Every little bit they find brings more questions and less answers until the truth is something they can no longer ignore. This story is created with layers upon layers of mystery and suspense, while balancing the highs of new relationships and the depths of uncovered deceit. The author does a spectacular job of connecting every element and detail, no matter how big or small – every word she put on the page serves a purpose.
“There’s no going back now. No place I can run and hide. That’s the thing about the truth—sooner or later, you have to look it in the eye.”
I’m not generally a fan of reading flashbacks but when the characters are uncovering almost three decades worth of secrets, it’s necessary. I loved these moments into the past and getting to experience these glimpses into another character’s world. I felt for her, I believed in her, I wanted her to succeed. These moments were both beautiful and heartbreaking because I as a reader wanted everything that this character wanted. These flashbacks were necessary to understand not only the past and what possibly caused each action, but they were needed for the present characters to understand, accept, and grow in the present and future.
Right from the get go, you know there’s a ton of family drama and that the Callahan family and the Moretti family are enemies; they do not get along whatsoever and never have. So what happens when a Callahan boy and a Moretti girl meet one night in an alley behind a bar? Shannon has a huge smile, that’s what. I’m a big fan of the forbidden love trope in romance novels so this element is right up my alley; Rae and Jack simply warm my heart. With this forbidden aspect, I also mentioned that this book has some mystery in trying to figure out the extent of this family drama and all the damage it has caused. When each secret is uncovered, small pieces of the puzzle finally start to fit but this is a picture that you can’t see clearly until the very end. There’s so many different elements at play to try and figure out first. But that first big twist K. Ryan included, wow. Simply wow. I was not expecting that but it made the story, relationships, forbidden aspect and the need to figure everything out that much stronger. I was amazed at how mature these characters were in dealing with it, but also loved the conversation when they confronted the ugly truth.
“I think real family is the one you make. Blood doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it.”
One of the notes I kept making over and over again was relating to how charming and witty the writing is. I loved Jack and I loved how Rae could feed off of him and give all his crap right back. Plus they were so sweet when they were just joking around. One of my favourite moments *ahem* end of chapter 17 *ahem* was exactly this. Just these two, joking around, having a good time, and being awesome while doing it. Even separate from these two, the other characters were fun as well. I enjoyed how they could have these moments even during hard times when nothing was known and everyone was at risk.
Are we looking for a distraction? Absolutely. And Bennett’s served up the perfect one as he dances some kind of sloppy, half-drunk two-step in Rae’s living room, sloshing back gulps of wine in between singing, “Don’t call my name, don’t call my name, Alejandro.”
Laughter bursts through our self-imposed silence and I realize that I’m laughing right along with her. It’s a welcome change from all this awkwardness and all this…whatever it is.
“Ugh,” she laughs. “He’s impossible to take seriously.”
Of course, she says this right as Bennett belts out, “I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe, Fernando.”
Like I mentioned, this book isn’t over the top romancy, so if you’re looking for enough sweetness and cheesiness to give you a stomach ache, this might not be it. But I’ll definitely recommend this book because those who get through it will be rewarded. It seemed to be about the 75% mark where ultimately a relationship is started. Just to give you an idea, it’s not hot and heavy the entire way. Also on that note, some people believe that romance = explicit. No, this is not always the case, but in interest of those who down vote a story if scenes aren’t detailed, here’s your warning. All of the Lights has fade to black sex scenes.
“I want this moment to last—this moment where he’s looking at me like I’m the only person who matters. Like my safety and well-being is all he can think about. It’s foreign, this feeling, but I want to live in it forever.”
Everyone loves a strong heroine, am I right? So how about one who is going against everyone and everything she has ever known and loved to try and make her past right. To save innocent people, and to finally get some answers. She’s sassy and level headed while making strong and mature decisions. Rae has been one of my favourite heroines in a while. Now let’s talk about a hero. With a female this strong, you can’t possibly have a hero that’s going to lie down and let her take care of everything, now can we? Nope. Jack is by Rae’s side every step of the way offering loyalty, protection, trust and supporting her completely. I really, really liked this guy. He never got in her way but aided in her search. He let her fight her own battles while jumping in where he could. These two really were a great match.
“We started this mess hating the very air the other breathed and now…now I was sitting here, trying to convince myself to forget her. If given the chance and if I threw all caution to the wind, I think I’d ride into hell and back for her.”
Even if there wasn’t a full blown romance throughout the entire novel, stolen moments, glances and actions are all present. Throw in little moments of angst and my heart is pitter-pattering. I love angst, I really do, and one scene in particular had me over the moon and cheering for Rae.
In the entire story, there’s only one thing I would’ve liked to change, hence my 4.5 star rating instead of 5 stars. I would’ve loved if the romance could’ve been built more steadily from the beginning, not just starting in the last quarter. Because of this, I questioned the authenticity a bit at times. Not even taking away from the other elements going on, but small moments, conversations, alone time, opening up, anything to feel the connection and the longing grow between Jack and Rae would’ve been appreciated and enhanced their relationship.
“The sins of our parents have followed us for too long and I just don’t know how to shake them. Everything I want, I can’t have.”
Just a quick note on the prologue and epilogue, they were perfect. The prologue entrances the reader immediately with its heartbreak, while the epilogue gives a haunting and perfect conclusion to All of the Lights. It was the exact ending that I didn’t know I needed, while every page in between shares a story of love, loss, life, family, loyalty and sacrifice.
This book has a really well developed storyline that you can’t help but become immersed in, loveable characters who you can’t help but route for, and a broken love story that you can’t help but feel for. I wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out and how everything fit together until the very end. K. Ryan keeps you guessing until the last page with this alluring and original take on romance.
*An ARC was received from the author and IndieSage PR in exchange for an honest review.