Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
West Balkany is determined to do all he can to stop the slum lord who owns his apartment building from driving away all the remaining tenants. It is not easy, as the place is falling apart and is scarcely livable. West is barely making ends meet running his deli, and if it wasn’t for the fact that his friend bought the deli’s building, West would be in danger of losing his business along with his home. The fight against Larsen Property Management seems like a never ending impossible battle, as the elder Larsen has endless money and influence and cares nothing for those whose lives he ruins.
When West lets off some steam with a hot guy in a bar supply closet, he assumes it will be a one and done, just like all his other hookups. West doesn’t think he will ever find someone who can be there for him and support his passions, while not trying to take care of him. But even for one night, Jake rocks West’s world.
Jakob Larsen hates his father and everything he stands for, but Jakob hasn’t found it in himself to break free. It has always been easier to go along, but Jakob realizes it is time he stands up for what he knows is right, and that means doing all he can to stop his father’s way of doing business. The problem is that Jakob won’t have control of Larsen Property Management until his father dies, so it is either try to exert what influence he can now, or bail completely on the business and leave the place the mercy of those who care nothing for the tenants whose lives are being destroyed.
When Jakob encounters West again after their hook up, a misunderstanding means West doesn’t realize Jakob is a wealthy Larsen. Jakob knows he must tell him the truth, but he also knows it will ruin everything between him and West. West is facing so much pressure, between his failing business, problems with his apartment, family health scares, and school stress that Jakob struggles to find the right time to tell him. West and Jakob are falling hard for one another, and things are growing serious. But until Jakob can reveal the truth, they will never have a real chance at happiness together.
All You Touch is the second book in E.M. Lindsey’s Love Starts Here series. We met both characters in supporting roles in Without a Doubt, as West runs the deli Rhys frequents, and Jakob is Henrik’s brother. Rhys, Carter, and Henrik all appear here as well and the larger issue of the fight with Larsen Property Management carries over from the first book, so I think familiarity with the first story is helpful, but not essential.
The crux of the conflict here is on the mistaken identity, so I think a lot of your feelings about this book may rest on how much you enjoy that trope. To be honest, it isn’t my most favorite, but I would follow Lindsey pretty much anywhere and I think they do such a wonderful job with these characters that it rounds out this story well. Both men really have a personal journey throughout the book. For West, it is learning to trust and open himself up to others, and deciding what he really wants from his life and taking action. Jakob has to rethink his job and his connection to his father. He knows his father is awful, but he starts the book not quite ready to stand up for what he knows is right. Even as Jakob starts to recognize that he faces a crossroads and it is time to make a move, circumstances leave him struggling with how to affect the positive change.
There is such a nice connection between West and Jakob, and even as they start just as a hookup, they find they really work together so well. Jakob is there for West in exactly the ways he needs, giving him strength and support without pitying him or smothering him like past boyfriends. We watch as Jakob slowly becomes West’s rock, knowing all the while that it is all going to come crashing down when West realize the truth. I found I could understand how the confusion happened, and even why Jakob takes so long to tell West. It is clear how much these men mean to one another, so even when the axe falls, I could believe they could work things out and move forward together.
I often say the highlight of Lindsey’s books for me is the wonderful character development and once again I think that is what really makes this story shine. We get some interesting tidbits dropped here for the next story and I am really eager to see how things continue to develop for this series.