Review: All I Have by Nicole Helm

All I Have (A Farmers' Market Story, #1)All I Have by Nicole Helm
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a really hard review for me to write. I wasn’t even sure how to rate this book. Based on my enjoyment level of it, it should probably only get 2-2.5 stars. But that was far more to do with what I brought to the reading, than the quality of the book itself.

Let me explain.

The story is that two people with competing market stalls at a farmer’s market – Mia and Dell – end up starting a relationship and falling in love.

It sounds like a fun premise, but the conflict and tension is high, meaning it isn’t as fun a read as the premise suggests. I already wasn’t primed to like this book. The virgin woman/sexually experienced man dynamic is one that I generally dislike, even by extremely skilled writers. It didn’t work for me here, either, but again that was because of my own preferences, not anything to do with the book itself.

The main problem I had is that so many of the characters were simply awful to each other, in really subtle, unpleasant ways. Dell bullied Mia, trying to put her out of business. I don’t care what his reasoning was, I thought he was a complete asshat.

Dell’s father was a dick to Dell. The two couldn’t have a civil conversation. One of the main things that gets me upset when reading (which I never fully understood until reading this book) is when a character simply won’t listen to what a protagonist has to say, or willfully misunderstands them. Dell’s relationship with his father was like this, and I found it deeply unsettling in their scenes together. Dell’s brother was honestly not much better.

Similarly, Mia’s relationship with her mother was smothering. The fact that the woman was horrified because her 26-year-old daughter was in a relationship – it was horrible judgey and made me deeply uncomfortable how guilty she tried to make Mia. It was so uncomfortable to read. I don’t care that they tried to make her have a sympathetic back story later in the book. The fact that she made her daughter feel so awful made her unforgivable in my book.

Obviously, since I was so upset by these things, I was not the right person to enjoy this book. I suppose what I’m saying is that if you like the virgin heroine/playboy man dynamic, and aren’t too fussed about people the protagonists love being awful to them, then you’ll most likely enjoy this book more than I did. However, I am already reading All I Am and thoroughly enjoying it. With the virgin hero, and no awful secondary characters, it’s far more my speed.

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