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Friday, April 12, 2013

ARC Review: All The Way by Jennifer Probst

Confession time: despite the fact that I’ve had all three of her Marriage to a Billionaire series books in my epic TBR Queue of Doom for ages and that I’ve had everyone recommend her books to me, this is my first Jennifer Probst book. If the other three are anything like this one, they’re jumping to the top of my queue—I haven’t enjoyed a contemporary romance quite this much in a while, especially one so short!

ALL THE WAY is reunion romance (a trope I was initially ambivalent about but that has quickly become one of my favourites for contemporaries) done exactly right, with the perfect mix of heat, humour, angst, and heartwarming romance tied together with excellent writing and a great voice. The setup is nothing new—hero and heroine had a scorching love affair three years prior, hero runs off to pursue his dreams of incomparable globe-trotting career success, heroine vows to never experience such heartbreak again, family crisis brings the repentant hero back for a second chance at love—but it’s executed flawlessly. Gavin initially comes across as the over-confident, career-driven, selfish wanker he was three years ago, but we quickly get to see how much he regrets having walked away from the best thing in his life, how empty his career success feels, and how determined he is to atone for past mistakes and win the heroine’s heart (and trust) again. Loyalty to his family brings him back from Europe when his family’s Italian restaurant—something he always thought he wanted no part in—is on the brink of going under and he takes it upon himself to turn things around. The way he goes from ruthless suave executive to glorified waiter and seamlessly deals with the drama of his Italian family, his younger brother’s resentment for having left, the crazy antics of his high-strung chef (that scene about Gordon Ramsay is priceless!), and endless restaurant crises will have you wanting a Gavin of your own. And his attempts to re-woo the reluctant Miranda… those letters?That opera date?The scorching sex? Be still, my heart! [Seriously, can I have him for my own? Pretty please?]. Seeing him realize just how much of a wanker he was in the past, how much he’s grown since, and how much he’s willing to fight for what he wants once he realizes it’s outside of his comfort zone is incredibly satisfying.

Successful food critic Miranda brings the bulk of the baggage and angst to the relationship: childhood abandonment issues combined a major case of not-good-enough syndrome and the fact that Gavin broke her heart when he walked away and dumped her (via email, no less… ouch!) three years ago have made her rigidly controlled and unwilling to take that leap into love again. A purely physical relationship with Gavin she can do (or so she thinks), but she’s sworn to never involve her emotions again—especially not with someone as temporary as Gavin who will always put his career first. In less skilled hands, Miranda’s character could easily cross the line into overly dramatic and embittered, but Jennifer Probst plays it just right to create a complex, layered character that is incredibly realistic. You may not always agree with Miranda and may want to tell her to grow a pair, but you can understand and relate to her motivations. And, well, who doesn’t love a woman who puts a seemingly arrogant wanker in his place with a scathing review of his restaurant before falling head over heels in love with him again? Ultimately, the way Gavin peels back those prickly layers and gets her to open up again so believably will have you rooting for the two of them to successfully navigate their relationship issues. The great cast of secondary characters—from irascible chef Tony to Gavin’s spot-on teenage brother to Gavin’s Frank Sinatra-quoting dad and his posse—adds a touch of humour and rounds out the hero and heroine with well-developed familial relations and friendships, helping create three-dimensional characters that feel incredibly real and relatable.

ALL THE WAY is short enough that it can be read in one sitting, but it provides an astonishingly complete story that didn’t feel unrealistic (given that we’re talking romance here!). It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s sweet, it’s incredibly well written, and it will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside—what more can one ask for from a contemporary romance? Highly recommended, especially for anyone who enjoys foodie romances.

**ARC provided by Entangled Publishing**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |


  1. Oooh, now I *must read Jennifer's books. Like you, I've heard so many great things about them, but I haven't bought any yet. Now I'm so tempted to go on a binge with all of them this weekend.... If I do, I'm blaming you! :D LOL.


  2. Aarrrg I have this on my tbr pile too! I've been meaning to read her others for a while now after someone recommended them. Must read faster! I love reunion stories. Gotta move this one up the list.

    herding cats & burning soup