Linda Winfree’s 11th book in her Hearts of the South series caught me by surprise. I picked it up because the story line features an older woman/younger man trope, which I don’t see a lot of. Ironically, the age difference between Savannah and Emmett is inconsequential to the story, I actually forgot about it, but it was for all the right reasons.
All I Need is such a lovely book, one that has lingered with me and left me missing the characters. As the latest in a long series, I feared going in that I’d feel like I was missing something, but it was quite the opposite. Immersing myself in All I Need was like being welcomed with open arms into a close-knit community.
Savannah lost her fiancé to a tragic accident and has sworn to never allow herself to be emotionally vulnerable again. When she meets her new neighbor, there’s an immediate attraction that leaves Savannah considering a “friends with benefits” arrangement. Emmett was almost killed a year ago when he was shot while on duty. His painful recovery has left little time for romantic involvements and he quickly agrees to Savannah’s proposal of physical intimacy without emotional entanglements.
I’ve read this story a thousand times, but Winfree doesn’t settle for the formulaic emotional arc that we see so often. Instead, Savannah and Emmett’s road to love is realistic and poignantly emotional as these two face their tragic pasts. It’s the characters’ vulnerability that truly sets All I Need apart. The push and pull between these two characters brought tears to my eyes more than once. And while we see from the start what motivates Savannah, it’s Emmett’s journey that truly moved me as childhood insecurities and Savannah’s refusal to commit emotionally leave him raw.
As mentioned earlier, the community of characters made me feel welcome. Emmett and Savannah are part of an extended group of friends made up of service providers: police officers, EMTs, doctors, and nurses. The small-town Georgia setting gives the characters a shared history that’s organic and warm, the banter between characters true. Both main characters have important, close-knit relationships that draw the reader in and each character stands out as someone familiar. Winfree acknowledges the Christianity that is inherent in the deep south, but does so in a non-preachy way, the characters’ spirituality as much of a part of them as their drive to serve their community professionally.
4.25 stars for All I Need. Heat level: 4
I received this book from RockStarLit in exchange for honest feedback.
All I Need was published in July 2016 by Samhain Publishing.
About the Author:
How does a high school English teacher end up plotting murders? She uses her experiences as a cop’s wife to become a writer of romantic suspense! Linda Winfree lives in a quintessential small Georgia town with her husband and two children. By day, she teaches American Literature, advises the student government and coaches the drama team; by night she pens sultry books full of murder and mayhem.