All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was one of my first reads that was a true contemporary romance. Before this book, I had kind of cringed at that label. For some reason, I had this image of a too-sweet, cheesy story being the only type of contemporary romance. And then, about seventy pages into this book, I looked over at my sister and told her I was now a fan of contemporary romance.
I think one of the most attractive things about this genre is the relatability of the characters. Often, in historical novels and even suspense novels, the characters border on superhuman status (at least compared to average people like me.) It can be difficult to imagine them as real people going about normal life, because, well, their life is definitely not normal. And that’s totally fine in those types of books, because not everyone should be as boring as myself. However, both Molly and Silas seemed mostly like normal humans. Molly had flaws and struggles and battles she had to fight, and things didn’t always turn out perfectly even with her best efforts. And her problems were more everyday – not saving half the world or something like that. Silas was much the same way. I might have not connected quite as much with him, just because his POV wasn’t as common as Molly’s, but he was still more of an average guy. His personality was so well-defined, quite different from Molly’s even though they were both written in first person. The author really had a great grasp on who her characters were, and that made so much of this book.
The plot was nothing thrilling – again, more of everyday problems without much danger or intrigue. But it wasn’t boring at all. I read this book over three or four weeks (because of time constraints and other necessary reading), but I was able to get into it and remain engaged even though it took me so long to read. The writing style was modern but flowed really well.
One of my only complaints were the themes. I was pretty skeptical heading into the book (preconceived notions about the genre and a couple reviews, too, I think), so I was watching for possible weird theology and strange beliefs. The more the book went on, the better it got, but there were a couple points where things were pretty muddy and could’ve been explained a lot better. There was a little bit too much focus on oneself and too little focus on Jesus. Silas’s mission was an admirable one, but there was no mention of his actually giving the Gospel to the kids he was helping. In the end, the themes were just too vague.
But overall, I really enjoyed this read – it wasn’t heavy but also not completely fluffy, either. There were plenty of emotionally-charged scenes and plot twists that kept the story moving. My mind has been changed on contemporary romances, and I hope to read more by this author in the future!