Tiny McAllister is getting married. When she came out to her conservative Connecticut family, she never thought there would be a place for her to be able to get married. But Tiny and her fiancé, Caroline, are on their way to Bermuda to meet their families for a destination wedding. It’s not exactly everything Tiny wanted, as her mother, Bitty, is controlling and has everything planned to the minute over the next few days. Tiny is also apprehensive. Even though Caroline was the one that proposed and for as much as Tiny loves Caroline, she has to reassure herself often that Caroline is as committed to this wedding as Tiny is.
Tiny also doesn’t have the support she would like from her family. Although they are at the wedding and publicly attempt to present a united front, there is definitely an undercurrent that they would rather be somewhere else, anywhere else, and they would all definitely prefer if Tiny wasn’t marrying a woman. As the weekend unfolds, emotions get stirred up and secrets begin to unravel the carefully constructed façade that everyone around Tiny has in place. Tiny thought she was coming to Bermuda for her happily ever after, but with hidden agendas and schemes breaking open around every corner, Tiny will have to stand up for herself like never before to make her own happy ending.
As this story opens, we meet Tiny and Caroline on the way to their destination wedding. There is already an incident on the plane where Tiny and Caroline have to stand up for themselves and so begins this debut book from Liz Parker. All Are Welcome is an interesting title choice because, from the beginning, it is clear that no one is truly welcome between these two families and there was never that pivotal point for me where the title came together with the story.
The story is told through multiple POVs with an ensemble style cast. We get insight through Tiny; Caroline; Tiny’s mother, Bitty; Tiny’s father, Dick; and Tiny’s brother, Trip. The stereotypes of a conservative, upper class family are alive and well and are vacationing reluctantly in Bermuda. From the start, I could feel the unease. Tiny and Caroline are not quite acting like a couple on their way to be married and it sets the tone for the larger story to come. Tiny’s family is physically present, but they are not much of a support and Tiny is mostly lost in a family that overwhelms every aspect of her life. Caroline has a story of her own to tell, but she came off as bland and for a central figure in the story, her character was underdeveloped and not overly interesting.
The tagline for this book calls it “a darkly funny novel,” but I did not find anything funny about this book in any kind of way. All of the characters are awful to varying degrees, as Tiny’s family is mostly concerned with themselves and appearances, and it wasn’t the kind of awful that added any type of humor for me. The foundation is laid out well and there is a good sense of all the characters, but by the end, I felt no draw to care about any of them, which unfortunately included Tiny as well.
The story and the weekend begin to unravel piece by piece as a storm comes through to physically and emotionally shake up all the characters. There is no one left untouched at the end by scheme or secrets and, while this added movement to a story that needed it, every aspect still stayed too flat and even for me. This story should be classified under LGBT fiction and while Tiny and Caroline are engaged to be married, this book is not a romance. I like ensemble style books with multiple POVs, and while this book did have that, the characters didn’t carry this story for me.