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All That Glitters Paperback – October 5, 2012
About the Author
Ashley Quinn is a writer residing in the Chicago area. After getting a B.A. in Marketing Communications from Columbia College Chicago, she worked in a variety of offices (and still does, but just in one these days) before deciding that writing contemporary fiction with relatable characters experiencing honest stories was her passion. When she's not cooking up her next novel, Ashley shares her life with friends, two spoiled dogs, two bratty cats and, most importantly, family that includes her long-term partner. Aside from writing, photography and reading everything that she can get her hands on, Ashley enjoys all other things art-related, hiking, traveling, being outdoors, kickboxing, yoga, attempting to cook (without burning her food) and the occasional trashy reality show.
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For those interested, the book hits upon several themes which were all handled fairly well:
1) second chances,
2) returning home (to a much hated podunk town in Florida),
3) Hollywood (and being in the closet),
4) coming out to self and others
There are definitely things to like about the book. I felt like the author wrote with earnestness, i.e. there's passion coming through in the writing. The story and cast of characters are thought out, editing and dialogue are strong. The two leads have undeniable chemistry and I was compelled to read through to the end. And, the author definitely has a knack for creating a setting and bringing that to life as much as her characters.
The love Michelle and Alexis felt at their younger age was also given some credence which I liked.
For the most part, I'd consider this a feel good second chance romance.
With that, there are a few things that held this book back for me.
The biggest issue I truly had was in Alexis' feelings in present day towards Michelle. With their history, no matter how understanding Alexis is/was, I really needed her to be angry, reticent, or guarded with Michelle and I wanted her to be that way for much of the book, thawing out as their relationship was rekindled. Michelle did some soul carving damage to Alexis yet Alexis warmed to her almost immediately only having a few spikes of uncertainty here and there. I wanted Michelle to really have to work for Alexis which wasn't really the case.
I get the feeling Alexis was written that way because she knew the "real Michelle" and said she'd wait for her despite whatever happens, as if she has an untouchable maturity about the whole situation. A girl doesn't have to petty but I needed some major persistent doubt about Michelle's intentions at the very least.
That easy forgiveness and a couple of other things in the story were wrapped up too quickly or easily, especially at the end.
The book also uses flashbacks, flipping between Michelle and Alexis's lives when they first fell for each other versus who they are in the present day. I'm just not a flashback fan so that's down to personal preference.
On another completely personal thing, Alexis' younger brother is described as having severe Autism and I was really curious how that would be represented. It turns out, other than a mention, it wasn't really represented at all so that was a bit of a let down.
At times, the book felt long or a little clunky, but it was still solidly written.
I think Ashley Quinn's writing definitely matured with her latest book "Summer of Love" and I will continue to check out what else she has to offer.