All I Never Needed by Katie Klein
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: November 12, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
Format: e-ARC
Source: the author

When seventeen-year-old Harley Belle Thorpe is rushed to her father’s house on the opposite side of the country, she’s only expecting to stay a week at most—just until things settle down. She doesn’t expect her ex-boyfriend to violate the restraining order against him, or for her trip to be extended indefinitely, and she certainly isn’t expecting River Havencroft, her stepmother’s nephew. River’s summer is unfolding exactly as anticipated—working alongside his twin sister with their two young cousins and attempting to reconcile the future he’s envisioned for himself with the one his family has already planned for him—until Harley, that is. Everything about his uncle’s daughter works against their world of country clubs, prep schools, and trust funds, but the more time they spend together the less River can imagine this world—and his own—without her in it. She is everything he didn’t know he needed.

But as the sun sets on summer, Harley’s ex-boyfriend will make a dangerous play to lure her back to him, leaving River desperate to keep her safe. The only question that remains: how far is he willing to go?

Ms. Klein’s books always hit the sweet spot for me with fantastic storytelling and amazing characters.  Her books offer the perfect balance of realism and entertainment.  And, she’s done it again…although in this book there’s a twist.  Where she usually has my heart fluttering mostly because of the romance, this time the rapid beating came thanks a roller coaster ride of a story with unexpected situations and an ending that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Harley’s story brings to light some scary truths…that sometimes we don’t judge people’s characters correctly and that, try as we might, we’re not always in control of what happens in our lives.  With an obsessive ex-boyfriend who poses a real danger and being forced to move across the country to stay with the father she doesn’t see very often, Harley’s stress levels are high and we’re taken along for the ride as she figures out her new reality and deals with all the baggage from her past.

I loved Harley’s strength and determination in the face of this great challenge.  I really enjoyed taking a closer peek at what made her tick and at her underlying fears.  She opens up her heart to the readers and shares her insecurities and doubts.  It’s not often that a writer takes the time to dig deeper into a character’s feelings so that we can better understand her motivations.  There’s nothing superficial about this story – everything is raw and authentic.  Not everyone likes each other, not everyone gets along and characters have their individual quirks that you’ll either love or hate but that, in the end, make them unique and real.  I adored River.  His sweet demeanour and his devotion to Harley had me sighing and swooning.  He is the best kind of beta…the kind with a whole lot of alpha tucked away in his soul (and, if you don’t get this reference now, you sure will when you read this book).  Together, these two were wonderful and I, for one, want to know more about their future.

I can’t end this review without saying that, as always, we’re treated to some great secondary characters here and that the author does a fantastic job of letting us peak under the hood at their personalities and motivations.  Jean-Luc and Gia, for example, were wonderful, each with their own personality that was much bigger than that of an average 6 year old.  The roles they played in the story were very important and the characters treated with care.  This is one of those books that’ll stay with you for a while…the storyline, both troubling and beautiful…the characters, both strong and vulnerable…and the multitude of emotions that come from battling the worst life can throw at you and the ability to come out the other side.  Trust me, give it a read!

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