I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2013-04-11
Genres: Erotica, Historical Fiction, Romance
Buy the Book • Goodreads
All I Want Is You by Elizabeth Anthony is the story of an unlikely romance between a scullery maid and a duke. Sophie Davis will never forget the day that her dying mother took her to London. A kind but mysterious stranger takes Sophie’s mother to a hospital, and after she passes away, he helps Sophie secure a position as a maid at Belfield Hall. Sophie is grateful to him, and continues to write him letters as the years pass. She has a crush on him, but she knows that it will never work out, and her secret ambition is to return to London one day and become a dancer. Hoping to find a way out of the confines of her role as a servant, Sophie allows herself to be caught up in a plan by the scheming Lady Beatrice to seduce the new duke, but Sophie and the duke have already met…
This blend of historical fiction, romance, and erotica was fast-paced and hard to put down. I found myself invested in the story and eager to find out what would happen next. I adored the setting. Caught between World War I and the Great Depression, All I Want Is You explored the changing social climate of the 1920s as England modernizes. Skirts are getting shorter, radios and phonographs abound, and there’s a sense of excitement and adventure in the air. This also means that social roles that used to be rigidly defined have become much more fluid. It’s possible for Sophie to make something of herself, even though she was born to a poor mother and was probably illegitimate.
However, there were a couple issues that bothered me. The first is something that sometimes crops up (pun intended) in BDSM fiction, and that’s when the dominant partner gets all emo and apologetic about his desires. All I Want Is You doesn’t even really count as BDSM, but it ran into the same problem. Lord Ashley was pretty tame (when he wasn’t having an asshole moment, anyway), and I felt like he didn’t need to be so down on himself for enjoying some light bondage and a blindfold. It’s irritating when characters that are supposed to exude confidence and control start getting all whiny and depressed because they think that their desires make them evil. I wanted to tell Ash to knock it off on several occasions.
Then there’s Sophie, who was incredibly naive about life in general. She doesn’t realize when she’s doing something that’s actually dangerous. Like, she’s the kind of girl who thinks that being blindfolded by a hot guy is dangerous, but then she lives with a drug addict or walks into a strip club without having any inkling of what she’s getting herself into. She would have been a much more sympathetic character had she one whit of common sense.
Mostly I’m just in the mood to complain right now (and probably unfairly) because I wasn’t a fan of the way that the book ended. And now I’m going to get all spoilery and rant about it for a few minutes. DID YOU HEAR THAT? SPOILERS IN ITALICS BELOW! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
So, pretty much the entire book is a game of cat and mouse as Sophie and Ash dance in and out of each other’s lives. The two are madly in love with each other, but one is a duke and one is a commoner. Ash is willing to make things work and love and accept Sophie. Sophie has this weird complex where she thinks she’s ruining Ash’s life by being in a relationship with him, so she keeps pushing herself away from him. Normally, what you’d hope and expect is that the two would reconcile their differences and live happily ever after (kinkily ever after?). That’s not what happens here. Sophie winds up dumping him to pursue a singing career in America. That’s stupid! When I read silly erotic romance, I want a happy ending. Not just *want* a happy ending, I DEMAND A HAPPY ENDING! And the fact that the book ended the way it did seemed to imply that Sophie was right and that a poor girl and a rich guy just can’t be together, and that’s poppycock. You should be able to fall in love and create a life with whomever you damn well please. I don’t give a shit about class, gender, race, etc. Love conquers all, goddammit!
So, basically we have a case where I enjoyed 99% of the book and was willing to overlook it’s faults until the very ending, at which point I became irrationally angry and would have chucked the book across the room if I hadn’t been reading on my Kindle. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?