All Beautiful Things by Nicki Salcedo

May 19, 2014 Contemporary, Reviews, Romantic Suspense 4 DNF

A light skinned black woman look out at the viewer with wary defianceAll Beautiful Things is a DNF review, however the problem was not the quality of the book. Salcedo’s writing was too vivid, her world too immediate for me to continue. I like my angst well seasoned with lightness. All Beautiful Things is a dark read without much to break it up. The first half of the book is about pain and recovery. I skipped ahead before writing this review to ensure that there is a HEA or a HFN because if you’re able to take the trip I think Salcedo is worth your time.

Seven years ago Ava Camden was viciously attacked in a random piece of street violence. She was left shaken and scarred, her world turned upside down by the unpredictable brutality. Her attacker, Joel Sapphire, saw his nascent NFL career ended by his conviction. His brother, Graham Sapphire, believes the wrong man was convicted. All Beautiful Things opens as Joel is released on parole.

Ava spends her afternoons working in a homeless shelter. Her nights are spent wandering the streets of Atlanta looking for murder and crime scenes to photograph. There’s a police officer, Brad, who seems to work every scene she arrives on. Graham is your conventional romance hero. He rose from poverty to become the sort of multi millionaire who can stalk a woman for seven years (Ava has refused all contact with the Sapphire family), offer her a million dollar shelter donation, withstand her prominent family’s attacks on his business, spearhead an investigation into his brother’s innocence, and still find time to take care of his cancer stricken mother. There’s a lot going on with him. He alternates between accuser and victim, all in a low key manner.

“We all have scars, Ava. Just because mine are hidden doesn’t make them any less painful. Whenever someone looks at me, I feel their eyes on my skin where bruises used to be. I would never have approached you if I thought my brother could have done this to you. Never. He couldn’t. He would never. He saw what our father did to me and our mom. I understand why you like to hide. My attacker was a man who was supposed to have loved me. But I understand if you want to make me pay. If you need to use your knife on me, I’m not afraid.” Salcedo, Nicki (2014-01-02). All Beautiful Things (p. 93). Bell Bridge Books. Kindle Edition.


My Issues With Graham.
Graham has written her countless Nice Guy letters. He offered her a million dollar bribe (which she declined to accept) so he starts showing up at her place of work and her family’s charity party under an assumed name. Super not cool. When one appearance leads to a panic attack merging with an allergy attack, it’s Graham that rushes Ava to the hospital despite her entire family being nearby. They have no concern for Ava disappearing shortly after Graham appeared. (If Ava was my sister I’d have been calling the city looking for her and checking the GPS on her phone.) Ava decides to find Graham comforting and keeps him by her side in the hospital.

Ava and Graham both need a lot of therapy before I’d want to spend more time with them. This isn’t a story about two people with a painful event in their past, it’s a story about two people trapped in a painful present. Salcedo beautifully evokes depression and mental illness. She also serves up a healthy side of fetishization. My praise for All The Beautiful Things comes from Salcedo being able to trigger emotions other than simple impatience with their willful self destruction. It’s not going to make me finish the book. If you like your main couple dark, damaged and struggling to cope you will likely enjoy All The Beautiful Things quite a bit.

Final Assessment: So many people on the cross, they ran out of wood. DNF

Source: Purchased copy.

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Meoskop's first non-compulsory book review was in 1973. Although a hit with the 3rd grade, concerns raised by the administration necessitated an extended hiatus. Reviews resumed in 1985 but the concerns are ongoing.

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4 Responses to “All Beautiful Things by Nicki Salcedo”

  1. Tina

    I have this on my TBR list and was waffling a bit. I am now a bit more intrigued by it because of this review. It sounds like it has a bit of meat to it that I might …enjoy is not quite the right word…but appreciate more than I have the tissue thin insta-sex books I’ve become proficient at DNF’ing.

    The one thing that gives me pause though is this: ‘She also serves up a healthy side of fetishization”

    Can you give a little more specifics about that? I hate fetishization in IR romances almost as much as I hate insta-sex.

  2. Nu

    I was curious about this too, but I’m a little leery lately of this recurring theme, Daddy knows best, where the hero spends the entire book teaching the heroine that she was wrong to trust her instincts about him when there are a dozen red flags or she doesn’t know her own sexuality (I just read a book like that; it wouldn’t have been so bad if the heroine wasn’t so OTT convinced she was unworthy; she was a rape survivor so I can see the reasoning, but…) or something similarly condescending. But we’re gonna run out of plot devices at this rate, lol.

  3. Meoskop

    It’s not a racially based fetish – I wrote this one with a fever – meant to say that his excessive acceptance of her emotional unstability and her cultivation of her internal damage felt way too goth for my personal comfort level. I don’t find emotional breakage beautiful or tortured recovery admirable. Having had a huge amount of drama and trauma to work through myself, my tolerance for self inflicting problems on top of externally inflicted ones is low. I felt their struggle to heal was viewed through a lens that admired pain in a way I do not and can not. Dropping at exactly the 50% point was because she takes an action against him that generates self loathing in her. I loathed both of them for their reactions up to and after the (minor) event. I was so out. The quote in the review is from just a few pages before I bounced.

  4. Nicki Salcedo

    Thank you for this review. Call me crazy, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts and viewpoint. I appreciate your comments even if you did not finish.