Book Review: All At Sea by Heather Wardell

Melissa and Owen met on New Years' Eve and he proposed on Valentine's Day. Now it's March, and they're about to set sail on a two-week Caribbean cruise - and get married on the last day at sea. Though their relationship's moving fast, Melissa's wanted to be married for years and she knows the smart stable Owen is a great catch so she's sure they'll be fine. At least, she's sure until she meets his brothers on the cruise and discovers she's dated both of them: Austin, the fun-loving flirt whose kisses still haunt her dreams, and Nicholas, the sweet horror movie fan whose lack of ambition upset her in ways she still doesn't understand. Melissa expected to spend tons of time onboard with her fiancé, but he instead spends nearly his every waking moment in the casino displaying a previously unseen love of gambling. This surprise, and the time she spends with Nicholas and with Austin, makes her question everything she thought she wanted. Her relationship with Owen was just fine before, but suddenly 'just fine' doesn't seem good enough to keep a marriage alive for a lifetime. Melissa has two weeks to decide: stay with Owen or jump ship.

Release Date: September 6, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

I am a huge fan of Heather Wardell, having read and loved all of her previous novels (she's written ten now and there's not a dud in the bunch!), so I was super excited when she emailed me to tell me she had a new release.  Her books are stop-drop-and-read kind of books for me: everything in my life comes to a screeching halt so I can devour her stories!  I was expecting to get drawn into a character-driven, emotional story, and Wardell delivered, as always.  I just loved All At Sea!

If you haven't already read the summary, please read it now.  I want to talk about the characters, but I can't do that without you knowing a little bit about them.  And, I'm not going to try to write my own summary, because there's no way I can summarize this book better than Wardell did.  

Melissa and Owen are getting married...and they've only know each other for three months.  I've always believed that it takes at least one year to get to know someone.  I think you need to experience birthdays, the holidays, illness, and all of life's ups and downs for a whole year before you truly know someone and know how they will react to certain situations.  For example, if Melissa had known Owen long enough to go on a vacation with him, she would have known that he likes to gamble on vacation.  And by gamble, I mean stay in the casino all the time, coming out only for meals and a few hours' sleep every night. By the way, how in the world could that be fun?  I can't imagine going on vacation and not wanting to sit and read by the pool---which is what Melissa does. 

I had a little bit of a hard time really identifying with Melissa.  I like to imagine myself as the main character as I read (if it's a female lead) and I just could not put myself in her shoes.  I could never make that kind of huge, impulsive decision, to marry someone I'd only known for a few weeks.  So, it took me some time to really get to know and understand Melissa.  But once I did, I really felt for her.  Here she is, about to get married, and she realizes this huge character flaw in her fiance.  Not only that, she is faced with being around not one, but two men from her past.  Oh, the horror!  

I had a feeling where Wardell was going to take the story, and I'm so glad that she resolved the conflict the way she did.  There were some surprises along the way, which I loved.  But my favorite part was the character growth shown in several of the characters, but especially Melissa.  Wardell always manages to grow her characters subtly, so slowly that sometimes I don't pick up on it until the end of the book when they are so much stronger than before.  I love that!  

My favorite part of All At Sea was the relationships between the characters.  I loved the way Melissa interacted with the men in her life.  I also really liked how she stands up for herself, especially with her future mother-in-law.  

I would highly recommend All At Sea.  It's one of my favorite Heather Wardell books.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with next: her writing just keeps getting better! 

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