For Aristide, Perrin, and Leandre there is no higher calling than to serve as musketeers to the French King. Theirs is a life of shared passion, mutual camaraderie, and joyful sacrifice. But when a supposed plot ensnares their beloved commander, Treville, the musketeers commit themselves to clearing his good name. In doing so, they stumble across a wounded messenger, Benoit. A blacksmith by trade and from a small farming village, Benoit finds himself suddenly swept into brilliant chaos of Paris.
Without friends and without trade, Benoit is dependent upon the musketeers for shelter. And as he spends more time with the raucous trio, he develops complicated feelings for Aristide, who more than welcomes his attentions. But with the plot involving Treville now reaching to highest levels of royal government, Aristide and his fellow musketeers are racing to protect the King. If they survive, then Aristide and Benoit may just have a chance to forge a future for themselves.
All For One is the direct sequel to Checkmate, and I was looking forward to reading it because Checkmate had real potential and I have a serious love for all things even remotely relating to Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. It was one of my favorite books growing up and I’ve enjoyed many of its reinterpretations. Unfortunately, all the potential that Checkmate possessed seemed to evaporate with All For One. But let’s start with the positives.
The significant pacing issues that I had with Checkmate were vastly improved in All For One. The overall flow of the book was strong and the plot moved swiftly. The writing remains technically strong and a great deal of time is given to the natural ebb and flow of language, including the use of French. It makes All For One very readable and had there been substantially more plot, less sex, and better characters, this book could have been amazing.
Each of the four main characters in All For One fails to jump off the page. They tend to read as flat and singular in their dimensions. Their interactions are stiff and often so sexualized as to be both ridiculous and boring. And while characters from Checkmate do show up and have significant time on page, in this lackluster environment they have no chance to shine. I enjoy erotica as much as the next person, but when it completely consumes a story then, for me, it serves little purpose. Nearly every chapter of All For One either started with or contained multiple page sex scenes that went on and on and merely smothered whatever plot might have been lurking amongst the rest.
The reality is that All For One was nearly a DNF for me. Everything I hoped to see as an extension of Checkmate failed to materialize. It was especially disappointing because the authors have such talent and real skill when it comes to creating a believable sense of time and place. Too much meaningless sex and characters that failed to develop any sense of personality overshadowed these strengths. I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.