All In by L.K. Simonds
Genre: Gritty Realistic / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 282
A woman’s empty pursuit of happiness leads to a crisis before finding redemption in the Lord in this challenging and gritty Christian novel.
Twenty-nine-year-old novelist and blackjack dealer Cami Taylor seems to have it all—but just underneath her confident exterior and newfound celebrity is a young woman in trouble. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to get married, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family—a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami would rather bolt like a deer. Breaking things off with Joel, Cami launches herself on a new quest for happiness. But her pursuit of pleasure only takes her further from herself—and toward a harrowing new reality unlike anything she’s faced before. What follows for Cami is a fight to the death that can only be waged with God’s love.
I LOVED the premise that L.K. Simonds wrote her first novel about a young writer in the aftermath of her own breakout novel. It is hard to write a character like this and not be turned off with how stuck up and arrogant they are, but Cami was beautifully portrayed written right on that border of dislike that actually became a source of empathy towards her and was very realistically portrayed. My favorite part of this book was how well she was portrayed. As much as I loved Kate, Cami was just so gritty and real. I enjoyed the contrast between this strong independent woman and the fear she had in emoting. I loved her trouble past, her denial and bitterness, and her pessimistic views of the world. I loved the honest look into therapy and the internal dialogue in those first few sessions. She originally was only going to please others in her life and slowly realized she wanted to continue going for herself. It was very real wondering why you are there, thinking that you don't need this, and the awkwardness of those first few conversations. I'm always nervous picking up a Christian fiction thinking I'm going to be drowned in religious references and hammered with an overwhelming evangelical presence and the author is going to forget to focus on the story. I've encountered that many times before and this was not it. This is the best balance of a great fiction intertwining with religious elements that I've ever read and the two actually complemented each other very well. Since the author focused so outstandingly on this story and its development having the small glimpses into religion actually made them stand out and made them have more of an impact. I did feel like the book was running out of time though getting into the last few chapters to have this revival I had envisioned. I wish it would have ended at the dining room table with Kate and left the reader with all kinds of warm fuzzies and the ability to ponder all the possibilities of her future, but instead almost decided it for us and took things a little too far. The only thing that prevented this from being a perfect rating for me was almost everything after the dining room table in that last chapter or two when the story was extended into the church scene. That scene was a little too unexpected for me not really fitting in with the rest of the story. I was happy to see at that dining room table the title finally making an appearance, but I think the cover with that title seemed very deceiving. I almost didn't pick this book up because I know nothing about gambling and knew I wouldn't understand any references, but the title and cover are far from a good representation. Gambling is briefly mentioned being the subject matter or her first book, but it is a background element to what is really going on. All In is truly about tragedy, redemption, hope, and a selfless love that saves.
Whether I purchase, borrow, or receive a book in exchange for a review, my goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive regardless.
L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She's an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.
Autographed, library-bound copy of All In + $50 Visa gift card
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