by Jo Goodman

March 2003
ISBN: 0-8217-6868-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Jo Goodman’s latest novel, Everything I Ever Wanted is a heady mixture of mystery, intrigue, espionage and passion!

When the Earl of Southerton’s mission calls for him to investigate a beautiful Drury Lane actress, India Parr, on suspicion of being involved in a murder, he never expected to find himself entangled enough to abduct her for her own protection! But South knew that India was keeping something from him and in order to ferret out her secrets and the real killer, he was forced to take drastic measures. However, there was one flaw to his plan... South is falling in love with the talented and mysterious actress and his involvement with her could very well lead to his death!

India Parr is a heroine shrouded in mystery, with just fragments revealed about her secrets as the novel progresses. This circumstance might frustrate some, but undoubtedly causes the reader to keep turning the pages until all the mysteries are resolved! Unfortunately, once the enigma of India is exposed, it is a bit of a letdown after all the suspense of waiting for some expected shocking disclosure that never really happened until the very end. And since India’s character isn’t thoroughly revealed to the readers until more than halfway through the novel, it wasn’t easy to form an opinion regarding her as the heroine or to “get inside her head” enough to like or dislike her. And in my opinion, there is nothing worse than a lukewarm principal character!

Matthew Forrester, Earl of Southerton, or otherwise known simply as “South”, is part of a daring group of gentlemen known as the “Compass Club”. (Look for other Jo Goodman novels featuring the remaining members of the “Compass Club”, including the soon to be released All I Ever Needed, coming in October of 2003.) South’s character, while much more open than India’s, was still somehow lacking - I believe this is mainly because India’s secrets took up so much of the storyline and left little room for his character development. Therefore, being unable to really connect with neither the hero nor the heroine, left me unsatisfied with the romance of the story.

But despite those disappointments, there were several aspects of Everything I Ever Wanted that I enjoyed. For one, the deranged villain was very well-written and while India’s “surprises” weren’t all that surprising, several of the secrets he revealed were. Also, the love scenes between India and South were very passionate and gave them an intimate connection they were otherwise lacking. Further pleasing was Ms. Goodman’s expertise at building the suspense throughout the storyline.

If you are a fan of Ms. Goodman’s work or enjoyed her earlier work, Let Me Be the One, featuring the members of the Compass Club, you might want to pick up Everything I Ever Wanted to continue the quartet.

Reviewed in April 2003 by Nicole.

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