REVIEW: All I Am by Nicole Helm
Recovering from his time in Afghanistan, Wes Stone prefers the company of his dogs and himself. People, especially of the female variety, are…difficult. He appreciates that Cara Pruitt doesn’t treat him like an invalid, but hiring the party girl of New Benton to help out with his dog treat business is probably a mistake. And when her brightness and unexpected vulnerability somehow slip through his defenses, suddenly something terrifying is ignited inside him. Something thrilling. Something that could make Wes whole again…or consume him completely.
Dear Ms. Helm,
This book was mentioned back in October when Harlequin was having their giganto sale. It sounded interesting. If I were on twitter, this would have been me too.
To everyone on Twitter who responded to “wounded-veteran-dog-treat-making-bearded-virgin hero” with a resounding YES. Hopefully Wes lives up to the billing.
Yes Wes does live up to his hype and I enjoyed watching Cara and him work for their HEA but at one point Cara mentions how she and Wes were having the same argument over and over and I said, yes and yes.
Wes is literally a wounded war veteran. PTSD isn’t his problem – though he has an occasional dream or two – instead he’s suffered nerve damage to his dominant hand and has a pin in his hip to go along with his life long history of anxiety and self reserve. He had found his place in the Army and planned to use his GI Bill to fund his dream of veterinary school but an IED stripped both from him. He takes his lemons and makes them into lemonade by starting a pretty cool business – organic, home made dog treats – and one which he can use the abandoned many dogs he’s acquired as taste testers.
Cara is the middle sister of the Pruitt family and the one her family has come to expect little from. They love her but honestly she doesn’t have any track record for success as she manages to self sabotage all her prospects. Her choice in friends or boyfriends isn’t much better. Cara readily admits to it though she resents the lectures the family feels obligated to deliver to the screw-up sister. When she does see an opportunity to help Wes organize his business, she knows she can do it.
Loner Wes lays down some rules but Cara is soon pushing them a little. Each little half smile she can wring from him feels like a victory but turn about is fair play and Wes gets her to give up some of her secrets too. When his Major Confession emerges, Cara thinks she can help him with this too. Sex is one thing she’s good at.
Their tentative relationship starts slowly and has some fireworks along the way. Both can be stubborn and in their way, each avoids change or too much self reflection. They like what they have but what if one pushes for too much? Will they lose what they have?
I do like that not everything here is smooth sailing. Even after it’s more than sex or physical, that doesn’t magically shift them straight to HEA. Given they’re dealing with lifelong habits and patterns of behavior, this makes a ton of sense. I’m happy with how they eventually work things out and that both give and take to get them there. But as I mentioned earlier, we get stuck watching them hash out the same argument a time too many. B