cover image Most of All You

Most of All You

Mia Sheridan. Forever, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2734-8

In this gimmicky romance, bestseller Sheridan (Archer’s Voice) unites two individuals who have experienced so much tragedy that their combined anguish may exhaust the reader. Ellie lost her beloved mother at an early age and was foisted on a father who had never known she existed and preferred it that way. Escaping at 18 from his insufficient protection, she is now a beautiful but wary young woman known as Crystal. While working as a stripper (Sheridan emphasizes that she had no choice but to pursue this career path), she has developed the necessary shell to survive. Then preternaturally handsome Gabriel appears in the strip club and makes an unusual request: he wants to hire Crystal to help him tolerate being touched so he can have a relationship with a woman. Gabriel’s backstory is as horrific as hers: he was kidnapped as a child, locked in a basement, and tortured for years until he managed to kill his assailant to escape. Somehow, he has achieved a fairly normal adult life. Crystal is initially unwilling to participate in his experiment, afraid of being made to experience feelings herself, but circumstances force her to rely on Gabriel, and they fall in love quickly. Gabriel is brave and wants to move forward with his life; Crystal struggles with doubt and does not believe she deserves anything good. This novel often reads like a sappy, overwrought TV movie, but some readers who like seeing lost souls find each other and emerge stronger may enjoy it. Agent: Kimberly Brower, Brower Literary. (Oct.)