Tuesday, April 06, 2021

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

About the Book
Molly McKenzie's bright personality and on-trend fashion and beauty advice have earned her an impressive social media following, as well as a shiny monthly paycheck. When her manager-turned-boyfriend tells her of an upcoming audition to host a makeover show for America's underprivileged youth, all her dreams finally seem to be coming true. There's just one catch: she has little experience interacting with people in need.
To gain an edge on her competitors, she applies to volunteer at a transitional program for aged-out foster kids during summer, only the program's director, Silas Whittaker, doesn't find her as charming as her followers do. But since forfeiting a goal has never been her style, Molly's only option is to accept the terms Silas lays out and submit to his rules--even the most ridiculous ones pertaining to social media.  
Soon as the residents of the home become more than a means to pad her career resume, and Silas becomes more than an obstacle on her path to fame, her once-narrow focus expands to include the deep needs of those she's serving... and perhaps the ones she's neglected inside herself as well. It took years to build her platform, but only one summer to discover what really matters most.

My Thoughts
Well, I’m officially, once again obsessed with a Nicole Deese novel. I will admit I was nervous about this one, because it was honestly one of my top five most-anticipated reads for 2021, and because a lot of books I’ve been excited for have been missing the mark lately. But this one didn’t just meet my excessively high expectations, it exceeded them beyond my greatest hopes! I was dopey grinning my way through the whole book, wanting to just ignore the world and devour it any chance I got.
Let’s start with the characters, because lets be honest they can make or break a book. Molly was so much more than I thought she would be based on the synopsis. Yes, she was a girly girl who loved make-up and fashion but she had such a genuine caring heart and I ached for the way she felt like she didn’t fit into her family and the loneliness she experienced despite her social media fame. I absolutely loved seeing her discover the ways her gifts and talents could be used to help others and finding the connections she’d been seeking long before she even realized she needed them. She had such a bubbly magnetic personality and was one of those people you couldn’t help loving.
Now for Silas Whittaker (can we take a moment to once again appreciate this author’s hero naming magic ability?) I loved him so stinkin much! He was more on the serious side, especially when compared to Molly, but not to the extent of being a fuddy-duddy. His job required a level head and he was the perfect man for the job but he had a sense of humor that snuck up on you and made me laugh out loud several times! The way he saw potential in people before they even saw it themselves was incredible and the compassion he had was unmatched. He took his hard childhood and turned it into an amazing way of helping others. He was everything I could want in a hero!
And the two of them were absolutely perfect together! From their rocky first meeting, to working together, to friendship, to the beautiful more than friends, every step played out in perfect timing and I loved watching their relationship unfold. Their strengths and weaknesses complimented each other balancing out to make them a pretty unstoppable team that I was behind 100%!
I also loved getting to know the residents at the manor with their unique stories, the author really made you feel their pain and be totally rooting for them to overcome! Glo was such a hoot with her wisdom and wit and I also loved Molly’s brother Miles and her assistant, Val. The entire cast of characters was so well done!
In addition to the characters, I was so impressed with the way Deese handled the plot. She tackled the issue of teens who’ve aged out of the foster system with such skill and really gave an authentic view of the troubles they face. And I absolutely loved the way that every time I thought things were about to go down a certain way, a way that I didn’t want them to, she somehow flipped the script and turned the whole situation around to a way that had me cheering for the characters. Grace was given instead of judgement, listening instead of jumping to conclusions, and admitting fault instead of laying out excuses. I wish more books handled things this way because I’m here for it!
So, if you made it this far in my ramblings I will end by saying that this book was amazing from start to finish, it’s going on my favorites list, and you absolutely need to go read it!

Meet the Author
Nicole Deese is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and INSPY Award finalist. When she's not working on her next contemporary Christian romance novel, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior. Find her online at www.nicoledeese.com.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 


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