Reviewed by Tori
Ben Knight has been itching to find his own happily ever after as he watches his friends succumb to love, marriage, and babies. When a dear friend tells him his soul mate is coming and he’s already met her before, he’s shocked when he is called to the scene of a crime and runs into Kate Morrison; a social worker he had an interlude with a few years ago.
Kate Morrison is reeling from the sudden deaths of her sister, Margo and Margo’s fiance, Donald. Made to look like a suicide/murder, Kate is convinced there was foul play involved and she knows exactly who it was. Now the sole guardian of their young son, Alex, Kate vows to not stop until their murderer(s) are brought to justice.
To make matters worse, Donald’s ex-wife and son are not only contesting the will, but trying to get custody of Alex and his trust. Kate and Ben will have to learn to trust one if they want a chance to explore their mutual attraction before the killer strikes again.
Everything She Wanted in the fifth installment in Jennifer Ryan’s Hunted series. Easily read as part of the series or as a standalone, this installment centers around Ben Knight whom we met in Saved by the Rancher. Ryan begins her story in a rather unusual fashion, choosing to negate the mystery by showing us the crime, the identity of the killer, and the reasons behind the murders right off the bat. Rather than use the mystery as a separate entity, Ryan instead chooses to essentially spoil that aspect and focus instead on the romance and lets the police investigate off scene; giving our protagonists ample time to build a relationship.
Heavily character driven, Ryan sets the scene and immediately introduces us to our protagonists-Ben Knight and Kate Morrison. Steady pacing keeps us firmly moving along as Ryan slowly combines some action and drama with a steamy chemistry drenched romance. As we already know the where, when, why, and how…we now watch as the hero and heroine (along with some friends) do everything possible to bring the killer to justice.
Ben and Kate are perfectly matched. Both are intelligent, proactive, protective warriors who champion the underdog and their jobs reflect this- Ben’s an attorney who helps battered women and children and Kate is a social worker who works with disadvantaged children. I loved the fierceness in this couple both in their personal and professional lives. Kate steals the show though with her strength and independence. This is no mary sue waiting for a white knight to save her. She is more than able to save herself and proves it repeatedly. Having rose above her own traumatic childhood, she now does everything possible to make sure other children aren’t ‘tossed’ away like she was.
The romance reveals slowly but firmly with the right amount of sexual and emotional tension. I appreciated that Ryan doesn’t make this an ‘insta love’ connection. Though the chemistry is well established from their first time seeing each other again, she uses Ben and Kate’s past to push past the awkward meeting stage, giving them a base on which to deepen their acquaintance and move into something deeper and more meaningful.
A cast of familiar and new faces dot the landscape; facilitating subplots and helping to see justice served. Characters from previous books all step in to offer advice and guidance; giving Ben and Kate the family they both desperately crave. A plethora of children are present, used as strong plot devices to not only draw out Ben and Kate’s maternal instincts but to also help cement the growing relationship between them.
Some twists and turns keeps you engaged though I found my attention waning at times because I knew what the end result would be even if I wasn’t sure how it would all go down. The villain(s) of the piece weren’t developed enough to hold my attention on their own, especially since I already knew what they had done. The anticipation and suspense were missing for me so the overall appeal remained low-key.
Everything She Wanted is a nice escape from the everyday world with a little bit of everything to appeal to the masses but if you’re looking for a high impact romantic suspense that will keep you guessing till the end, this isn’t it.