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Release Day Blitz: All I Ever Wanted by Rhonda Helms, Lexi Ryan, Marilyn Brant, and Caisey Quinn {Review, Author Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway}

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All I Ever Wanted: An Abbott Springs Anthology
  by: Rhonda Helms, Marilyn Brant, Caisey Quinn, & Lexi Ryan

Publication Date: Jan. 10, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by the authors in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 336 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Winterfest is heating up in Abbott Springs...

As the town’s yearly festival kicks off, cold days turn into steamy nights, new flames will be ignited, and old romances will be rekindled.

All About Us by Marilyn Brant—All Sami Abbott ever wanted was permission to be herself. At home, she aims to be the perfect daughter but never measures up. At college, she’s the bold girl who had a one-night stand with sexy musician, Alex Hamilton. When he arrives unexpectedly in Abbott Springs, her worlds collide and she must reconcile the girl she tries to be with the person she really is.

All I Need by Caisey Quinn–All pink-haired rocker chick Everly Abbott thought she wanted was acceptance in her straight-laced hometown. But her best friend and bandmate Justin Cohen is about to show her that what she thinks she wants isn’t necessarily what she needs.

All for Love by Rhonda Helms–All Maya Monterey ever wanted was to belong. Happiest with the Abbott family, Maya’s been secretly in love with sexy pastry chef Oliver Abbott for years. With a flirty new look, she’ll pull out all the stops to get him to notice her. And if her plan fails, she’ll walk away from the only home she’s ever known–and Oliver–for good.

All or Nothing by Lexi Ryan—After years of placing the wrong bets, all Aubree Baxter wanted was someone to take a chance on her. Golden boy Kennedy Hale plays it safe in life and love, but to keep Bree in Abbott Springs, he’ll have to go all in.

 
 
When I first saw Lexi and Caisey were included in this anthology I knew I had to pick it up because I have so much love for their books! This was my first time reading anything by Rhonda and Marilyn and it will NOT be my last! It was so cool how each author took a different couple, but took the same background and spun it as their own. I loved the Winterfest setting in Abbott Springs! I also really enjoyed reading about all the characters I was introduced to in the first novella by Marilyn. These ladies did a fantastic job of making their novellas flow seamlessly with one another and creating characters you couldn't get enough of!
 
All About Us by Marilyn Brant was the first one up and it was adorable! I instantly fell for Alex Hamilton! He finds himself in the small town of Abbott Springs as a favor to a friend. The last person he ever expected to see was a girl he met while playing a show. Especially since she told him she'd be in Switzerland. Turns out Sami Abbott told Alex a lot of untrue things and that really stings him. The two connected that night and to find out most everything she told him was false really hurts.
 
Sami has her reasons for doing so, however. Living in a small town is not the easiest for her. Having everyone see you grow up and form this image of you can be quite suffocating. Sami doesn't want to be 'Sami' anymore. She wants to be Samantha- she wants to be different than the person everyone in Abbott Springs knows. Away at school she can do that. When she meets Alex it was natural to be that other person and not worry about their paths crossing again. Alex is definitely seen as an outsider in Abbott Springs and is met with some hostility, as he's not one of their own. Sami is shocked to see him there again, but all the feelings she had for him come rushing back as she sees him again.
 
I liked Sami and Alex, but definitely felt for him as Sami lets her insecurities and fears win out, leaving him behind once again. He knows this girl has the power to break his heart and I like that he confronts her and puts that out there for her. He was a good guy and I really liked him.
 
We got to meet a lot of the other characters in this story so we could be familiar with them in the later books which was really helpful.
 
All I Need by Caisey Quinn was next and it detailed the story of Justin (Jubb) and Everly. We met them in the last book briefly, as Justin was the friend Alex went to help. Justin and Everly are in a band together and have been best friends forever. Justin has feelings for Everly, but feels she has friend-zoned him a long time ago. Justin has the reached point where he literally cannot take it anymore. He can't continue on with the way things have been between them and is determined to make her his.
 
Everly was a bit of a stubborn one. She had a hard time accepting what Justin was telling her. Sure she's wondered what it would be like to be with him, but she's afraid of what crossing the line will do to their friendship and their band. Everly, like Sami, has her own set of insecurities. She hates being back in Abbott Springs and especially after how hurt she was after what happened last year with Kennedy Hale. She is desperate to play their gig and get the heck out of Dodge. After Justin puts it all out there for her, he is beyond devastated when she agrees to meet with Kennedy again to talk about what happened between them. Justin doesn't understand why she would feel the need to, especially when he's been a jerk to her. Justin mistakes what's going on with Everly and Kennedy and really makes some rash decisions. I'm glad Everly finally realized what Justin really meant to her, but I hated how hurt he was while she was figuring that out.
 
All For Love by Rhonda Helms is about Sami's older brother, Oliver, and her best friend Maya. This was a really sweet story, even though Oliver drove me a little crazy! Maya is incredibly sweet and is probably one of my favorite characters. She has been crushing on Oliver hardcore for years, but he's always seen as her as his sister's best friend. This year, Maya is determined to make Oliver notice her. I felt for Maya. She is crazy in love with her best friend's older brother, her parents are never around, her best friend has gone away to school, and she always feels so alone. Yet, Maya has always been the one to smile through the pain and she does her best not to show how much that affects her. Maya has a difficult decision to make in this novella, as she knows her heart can't take things staying the same much longer. She knows she needs to make her feelings for Oliver known and if he doesn't reciprocate, then it's time for her to move on.
 
Oliver, Oliver, Oliver! He's a great guy, but wow he can be dense! He starts to notice subtle things about Maya early on (like how warm her eyes are and how good she looks in her sweater) but just blames these things on his lack of sleep. Oliver is an important asset to his family's bakery and is a pretty busy guy with Winterfest rolling around. When he finally learns the true nature of Maya's feelings, he's in disbelief. He doesn't know how to act around her and he's afraid of misconstruing his own feelings- thinking that maybe he's only noticing these things about her because of how she feels about him. Maya definitely took him by surprise and it took him awhile to see what had always been right in front of him. He definitely gets stuck on the whole "we're friends" business and that definitely made me mad. Maya seriously is one of the sweetest characters I've read about in a long time and she doesn't deserve to continuously be hurt by the one person she cares about most. Thankfully, Oliver realizes his feelings for her, but will he be too late?
 
All or Nothing by Lexi Ryan is the last novella in the anthology and wow. I absolutely loved it! I didn't think I would like Kennedy very much, especially after how he treated Everly, but I ended up falling for that boy hook, line, and sinker! I also really liked Bree, Everly's best friend. We have another best friends turned more story, which is cool because that's one of my favorite tropes. Bree and Kennedy have been best friends since they were teens. Bree comes from another important family in the town of Abbott Springs, but has always spent a lot of time at the Hale's and is really considered a part of Kennedy's family.
 
Bree has been in love with Kennedy since sophomore year in high school and this past October she decided to act on it- in the wrong way. Alcohol was involved and well- it wasn't pretty. Coming back for Winterfest is hard on Bree because she knows she'll have to face the music.
 
Kennedy isn't blind to Bree. He knows he's attracted to her, but he, like the others, is afraid to ruin their friendship. He knows he handled what happened in October badly and he wishes he could go back and change things. He is angry when he finds out she is moving to Paris and he doesn't understand how she could keep letting her mom let her down time and time again with her false promises. He doesn't understand that for Bree it's easier to go after the people who you know will let you down, rather than place your trust in someone (like him) whose rejection would shatter her.
 
 Kennedy has his own set of issues to deal with though. Being the mayor's son and having all these expectations placed on you isn't easy. His father has his life planned out without taking into account what he really wants. Instead of standing up to him and telling him what HE wants, Kennedy takes the submissive road and that infuriates Bree. She pushes him to be better and to make a stand for what he wants and in turn he pushes her to stop running and realize that she run as much as she wants, but she won't find her happiness that way.
 
I loved Kennedy and Bree's chemistry. It was probably my favorite in the anthology. They complement each other really well and once Kennedy was able to get over his fear of ruining their friendship and take stock in what an incredible woman he has standing right in front of him, there was no going back for him.
 
Overall- I thought this was a great anthology! The only disappointment I had was that each novella ended with the MC's making their way to the Winterfest toast they have every year on the Hale bridge. I was really hoping to see them all reunite with one another and toast to new relationships, friendships, and love or something like that, but we didn't. Even then that's a minor thing in the grand scheme of things. This is definitely a treat for New Adult readers and I highly encourage you pick it up!
 
 

ALL I EVER WANTED is a winter anthology, complete with sledding races, spiked hot cocoa, and ice skating. Are you a winter lover?
 
 
Marilyn: I grew up in Wisconsin and now live in Illinois, so I’ve had to make peace with shoveling snow and scraping ice away every winter, LOL, but I can’t say I love the cold temps. I am very, very fond of hot cocoa (both spiked and unspiked), however, and I’ve always enjoyed ice skating and watching the Winter Olympics when they’re on.

Caisey: I love winter clothes, but the actual cold part, not so much!

Rhonda: For the most part, yes! But usually when I’m inside, sitting by a deliciously roaring fire. lol. I hate being super cold, but I do enjoy making snowmen, sled racing, and ice skating. I also like taking outdoor pictures.

Lexi: Maybe I’d say yes if it were a sweltering Indiana summer out my door right now, but instead it’s twelve inches of snow and negative windchills and I’m feeling like I really, really don’t like winter. But I sure don’t mind writing about it.

This anthology is really unique in that all the stories are connected and scenes from one story might appear in another. What was your favorite part about working on this anthology?

Marilyn: I loved the experience of getting to see a scene told in multiple viewpoints by our differing main characters. And it was fascinating to work so closely on a writing project with three authors whose stories I admire so much.

Caisey: Getting to see the many differences and similarities in each of our writing processes.

Rhonda: There was a community created by working so closely together that I’ve never experienced before. It really made me connected to my story and to the others. We were all vested in each other’s novellas, which I loved.

Lexi: We spent a weekend in Louisville to really nail down some of the continuity issues on the anthology. We worked a lot, but we also laughed more than I think I’ve ever laughed in my life. We writers spend an awful lot of time in solitude. It was wonderful to laugh with people who “get” the business like you do..

What was the most difficult part about putting it together?

Rhonda: Oh, all those nitpicky touches, the back-and-forth exchanges of scenes, then going over and over and over it all to make sure we didn’t mess up the timeline. FUN. lol

Marilyn: Yeah, Rhonda nailed it. There were a lot of details!

Caisey: What Rhonda said!

Lexi: To echo what Rhonda said...When we were in Louisville, we sat down at about 10am to start nailing down some of the details. We went page by page through each of our stories. “Oh, here your character says this.” “No, he wouldn’t change it quite like that. Change it to this.” “What’s Maya wearing that night?” “How would Kennedy be acting at the opening address?” Yes! Tons of details! But it was worth it to create what I think is a really unique product.
 
 
 
Obviously, a love of new adult romance brought you four together for this anthology. Name two of your favorite NA reads.

Marilyn: Aside from Lexi’s, Caisey’s, and Rhonda’s stories, which are awesome, I’ve also really enjoyed The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski and Violet Duke’s Resisting the Bad Boy.

Caisey: Oh gosh. There are so many good ones it’s hard to pick just two! My two faves of 2013 were probably Escaping Me by Elizabeth Lee and Break It Up by E.M. Tippetts.

Rhonda: Well, I love all of my fellow anthology authors’ works, lol. Seriously, they’re brilliant--make sure to check them out. But if we go beyond those, I also adored EASY by Tammara Webber and TANGLED by Emma Chase. So good!

Lexi: Oh, yes, I echo what everyone else said. Read them first! Obviously we enjoy each other’s work and that’s why we decided to do this together. After them, definitely EASY by Tammara Webber and ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND (well, the whole series) by Monica Murphy.
 
 

From ALL ABOUT US by Marilyn Brant

 


“I want to hear the song you wrote live,” Samantha said. “Tonight. Don’t you have your own guitar with you? I thought you brought one here.”

“To Abbott Springs, yes. Not to the barn. Mine is back at the B&B.”

“So, okay then,” she said, studying me with those watchful blue eyes. “Let’s go there.”

I exhaled. Slowly. “Listen, Samantha. I’ve had a chance to get a solid look at your town these past two days, and you’ve got a lot of people here who are real protective of you. Half of them are maybe just looking for gossip or to stir up trouble, but the other half are trying to make sure no one hurts you. I don’t wanna cause you any problems, okay? It’s getting late, and well, we should probably—”

“Go to bed,” she finished for me, her voice low.

I nodded. This was the best thing to do, I told myself. The best thing for her. Though, God, I wanted her. So. Damn. Much. I could taste the wanting. Feel it in my fingers. If I touched her, the electricity would leave scorch marks.

“Then we’d better do that.” She leaned close and whispered, “At your B&B.” She snatched her fluffy pink coat and slipped it on. “Time for you to take me to bed, Alex,” she added, her expression so determined I didn’t dare to contradict her. “Right now.”

 

From ALL I NEED by Caisey Quinn

 



“You okay, Jubb?” Her eyes were full of concern when she looked up at me from under her thick, dark lashes. The kind of concern no one had ever had for me. Just her. Always her.

I gave her a quick nod and smirked as if it were a silly question. It wasn’t. My need for her had built to a dangerous level, and Hale had thrown gasoline on my fire.

We reached her house and she took out her keys.

I was good until we made it to her door and I caught a whiff of her sweet strawberry scent. She’d used that same shampoo forever, and it had been driving me crazy since we were kids. But we weren’t kids anymore. So I let go. Gave up my death grip on keeping my distance. Stepping into her space, I pressed her up against the door without actually touching her.

“Jubb, what the hell are y—”

“Feel that, Ev?” I grabbed her hand and slid it under my shirt. Her slender fingers grazed my stomach. I pressed her hand against me more firmly. Made her trace the hard ridges of my abdomen.

“Yeah,” she breathed out, gaping up at me with eyes glinting with heat and panic. “I feel it.”

“No more Jubb,” I told her. “No more Jubb, or Jubby, or any other childhood nickname you might have had for me. Call me Justin or Cohen. Take your pick. Got it?”

My face was so close to hers I could hear the sound of her licking her sweet lips. And swallowing. Hard. “Um, okay. W-why not?”

This was it. Go big or go home. Shit, I was already home. Everly was my home. “Because,” I began, releasing her hand to brace both arms on either side of her head, “Jubby won’t sound as hot when you’re screaming it out later. And if I have anything to say about it, you will damn sure be moaning my name in the very near future.”

 

From ALL FOR LOVE by Rhonda Helms

 


This town was my everything. My family, my friends, my life’s breath, even. I needed these people. I found fulfillment, purpose here.

My gaze landed on Oliver, sitting with Kennedy, the mayor’s son. Oliver waved his fork in the air as he talked, and Kennedy’s head threw back with a burst of raucous laughter. My heart clenched tight as I watched Oliver’s perfect mouth moving, the way that one dimple in his left cheek deepened as he grinned.

Oliver was such an integral part of me. This love I felt for him, it filled my entire being. It set me on fire. It made me strive to be a better person. One who was worthy of him, the man who was so damned good at everything.

I would see him work hard at the bakery, without complaint, and it made me want to work harder. I would watch the protective way he nurtured his family, his usual gentle demeanor changing in an instant if he felt someone he loved had been wronged, and it made me want to pay that forward and care for others like that.

I tried in a thousand ways, every day, to show him the impact he had on me.

 

From ALL OR NOTHING by Lexi Ryan

 

I had gone so far as to tell Kennedy I wasn’t coming home for the festival this year, but much like Paws, I was weak. When Everly called and told me she was going to perform here, I’d known it was the perfect excuse. I’d wanted to see my friends and remember the good old days. I’d wanted to see Kennedy and forget October.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t going to let me.

I scrubbed my scalp and exfoliated my limbs to within an inch of my life, and by the time I turned off the water, my skin was humming.

I grabbed a towel off the heated rack and ran the plush terry cloth over my skin before tucking it under my arms and heading through the bathroom door to the bedroom.

“Did you decide to save some water for the rest of the town after all?”

I jumped at the sound of Kennedy’s voice and clutched at the towel wrapped under my arms. “Holy shit! You scared the daylights out of me!”

He kept his eyes on my face. Of course he did. But I was standing there in a freaking towel, and I would have thought he’d at least look at my legs or the way the towel clung to my breasts or…something. There I stood, weak in the knees just because he didn’t shave this morning, and he didn’t have the courtesy to sneak a peek?

I was pathetic.

So. Pathetic.



Marilyn Brant is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of eight novels to date, writing in the genres of contemporary women's fiction, romantic comedy, and new adult/mystery. Recently, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English selected her as their 2013 Author of the Year. As a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer, and national book reviewer, Marilyn has spent much of her life lost in literature. Her books have been featured by the Doubleday Book Club, Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Guild, BOMC2, and Rhapsody Book Club, and they've won awards such as the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart, the Booksellers' Best, and the Aspen Gold Reader's Choice. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family, reads a lot of Jane Austen, and loves chocolate, old movies, and road trips with music blaring and the windows rolled down. Please visit her online at www.marilynbrant.com or find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.brant and Twitter @marilynbrant


Caisey Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, daughter, and other assorted animals. She wears cowgirl boots most of the time, even to church. She is the bestselling author of the Kylie Ryans series and writes New and Young Adult books about country girls finding love in unexpected places. She can be found online at www.caiseyquinnwrites.com or on Twitter as @CaiseyQuinn where she spends entirely too much time chatting with readers, writers, and anyone who’s willing.


Rhonda Helms started writing novels several years ago and loves teen and New Adult romance. She has a Master's degree in English and a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing. She also freelance edits (visit rhondaedits.com to learn more about her services). When she isn't writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat way too much cheese. Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her family, dog, and a very loud cat. Visit her at rhondahelmsbooks.com for details about her and her books. You can also find her on twitter @rhelmsbooks or Facebook at facebook.com/rhondahelmsbooks.


A New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, Lexi Ryan considers herself the luckiest chick she knows. Her books have been described as intense, emotional, and wickedly sexy. When not writing, she enjoys watching football, perfecting her chocolate martini, and reading her way to the title of Biggest Romance Fangirl Evah. A former college professor, her biggest fears include faculty meetings and large stacks of ungraded freshman composition papers. She now writes full-time from her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and two children and their neurotic dog. You can visit Lexi at her website www.lexiryan.com or find her on Twitter @writerlexiryan or Facebook at facebook.com/lexiryanauthor.

 
 



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12 comments

  1. Jessica,
    You already know how much we all loved your review!! Thank you again for taking time to read our anthology, share it, and be a part of our book blitz, too -- you are awesome!

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    1. Thanks so much Marilyn! I am so glad I got to read it!

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  2. JESSICA THIS SOUNDS ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!! You know how much I love new adult and I just know this will be a treat! All the characters sound like well-rounded characters and I can't wait to meet them and see how their relationships develop and how they grow as characters. I also love best friends turned more romances, so I'm anticipating Justin and Everly's story as well as Bree and Kennedy's story the most. Fabulous reviews, Jessica! I'm glad you enjoyed all the stories featured. And great interview as well! :D

    ~ Maida xo

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    1. You will love it Maida! Especially since you're a NA fan! And I loved all the relationships and how they all interconnected! :D

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  3. Awesome Review & Interview Jess! I'm glad you loved this anthology. I love how all of the stories are connected to one another. You know how much I love New Adult stories, and this anthology sounds like a winner!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

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    1. Thanks Lindy! This was such a great anthology! :D

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  4. Jessica! This post is fabulous!! From your wonderful review (brilliant breakdown of the different stories) to the interview, excerpt, and giveaway, you did an amazing job ensuring this one is going on my TBR! I LOVE anthologies, and I can't wait to check out these authors. Thank you so much for putting this on my radar. On a side note, I absolutely flailed over the comment you left me -- thank you for fangirling with me over OTL ;) *hugs*

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    1. Thanks girl! Every time someone tells me they add a book to their TBR because of a review, it makes me SO SO happy! :D

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  5. Awesome reviews girl, I can't wait to read these. Yay for NA romances!! I'm espically excited to read Caisey's story, as you may know I'm kind of a fan of hers lol. But damn those excerpts are such a tease, now I'm dying to get my hands on this book haha!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Amy! I loved Caisey's story! And they are all so great!

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  6. Sounds like wonderful characters and great stories. Thanks for sharing :)

    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lori! It will definitely put you in a feel good mood!

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