All I Ever Wanted
  • All I Ever Wanted
  • All I Ever Wanted

All I Ever Wanted

4.1 894
by Kristan Higgins

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For Callie Grey, coming to grips with her age means facing the fact that her boyfriend-slash-boss is way overdue with a marriage proposal. And that she's way off track, because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company's new Miss Perfect. If that isn't bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a Big Three-Oh

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For Callie Grey, coming to grips with her age means facing the fact that her boyfriend-slash-boss is way overdue with a marriage proposal. And that she's way off track, because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company's new Miss Perfect. If that isn't bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a Big Three-Oh birthday bash…in the family funeral home.

Bad goes to worse when Callie stirs up a relationship with the town's single—yet not so warm and fuzzy—veterinarian, in order to flag Mark's attention. So what if Ian McFarland is more comfortable with animals? So what if he's formal, orderly and just a bit tense? Friendly, fun-loving and spontaneous Callie decides it's time for Ian to get a personality makeover. But, dang—if he doesn't shock the heck out of her, she might actually fall for Georgebury, Vermont's unlikeliest eligible bachelor….

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Higgins [offers] strong storytelling and a refreshing, sarcastic wit...thoroughly entertaining."-People Magazine

"Well-placed flashbacks; snarky, snappy dialogue; and conflict both tender and traumatic will shove you into love with a perfectly irresistible array of imperfect characters. You'll adore every bit of this story...Higgins' latest is sexy, screwy, funny and fulfilling - a simply radiant read."-USA TODAY on The Best Man

"The result is a deliriously funny story...The Best Man is Kristan Higgin's best book -- and that's saying a lot."-Eloisa James

"A funny, poignant romance."
-Publishers Weekly starred review, on My One and Only

"Romance fans and lovers of women's fiction will devour this witty and tender novel. Highly recommended." -Library Journal starred review on Somebody to Love

"Both gut-wrenchingly emotional and hysterically funny at the same time...Kristan Higgins writes the books you don't want to end."-#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr

"Higgins specializes in the kind of prose that makes you laugh out loud...hilarious on the surface, but with a bittersweet subtext."-National Public Radio

"Higgins has a special talent for creating characters readers love."-Romantic Times, 4½ stars on All I Ever Wanted

"A heartwarming, multi-generational tale of lost love, broken hearts and second chances."
-BookPage on The Next Best Thing

Product Details

Publication date:
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6.94(w) x 11.08(h) x 1.09(d)

Read an Excerpt

As the man I loved approached my office, the image of a deer being hit by a truck came to mind. I was the deer, metaphorically speaking, and Mark Rousseau was the pickup truck of doom.

But here's the thing. The deer always freezes, as we all know, hence the expression like a deer caught in the headlights. The deer and I (Callie Grey, age thirty as of 9:34 this very morning) are well aware that the pickup truck is going to hit us. But we just stand there, waiting for the inevitable, whether it's a pickup truck (in the deer's case) or a man walking athletically toward me (in mine), perpetual smile in place, his brown hair carelessly curling, those gorgeous, dancing dark eyes. I waited, doe-eyed. It was all really too bad, because outside of Mark's influence, I was not at all a deer about to be run down. I was much more of an adorable, perky hedgehog or something.

"Hey." Mark grinned.

Bam! We have impact. The sunlight streamed through the windows of the old brick office building in which Mark and I worked, illuminating him so that he looked like something painted by Michelangelo. To make him even more appealing, he was wearing an old sweater vest his mom knitted for him years ago, shapeless and faded but something he just couldn't part with. A good son and a sex god.

It was as if there were two Callies…the smarter, more sensible self (I pictured her as Michelle Obama), and the dopey, in love part…Betty Boop. Would that Michelle could give Betty Boop a brisk slap, followed by some vigorous shaking. Alas, Betty just sat there, enthralled, as the First Lady snorted in disgust.

"Hi," I said, feeling my face warm. You'd think that four years of seeing him almost daily would have built up some tolerance in me, but no. My chest prickled with longing and love, my throat turned Saharan, my feet and fingers tingled. Though I was trying hard for Intelligent Coworker, my expression was probably somewhere around Pathetic Adoration.

Mark leaned against my desk, which meant his crotch was, oh, let's see, about a foot and a half from my face, since I was seated. Not that I noticed, of course. "Happy birthday," he said, making it sound like the most intimate, most suggestive phrase in the world.

Face: nuclear. Heart: racing. Callie: half inch from orgasm. "Thanks."

"I got you a present, of course," he murmured in that voice… God, that voice. Low and soft and velvety…the same voice he used in the bedroom, as I well knew. Yes, Mark and I had been together. For five weeks. Five wonderful weeks. Almost five and a half, if you really analyzed it. Which I had.

From his back pocket, he withdrew a small, rectangular package. My heart flopped as my brain raced with contradictory thoughts. Jewelry? Betty squealed. That means something. That's romantic. So romantic! Oh! My! God! On the other hand, Michelle advised caution. Calm down, Callie. Let's just see how this plays out.

"Oh, Mark! Thank you! You didn't have to," I said, my voice breathy.

On the other side of the glass-bricked wall that separated our offices, Fleur Eames slammed a drawer. The wall only went up ten feet; the ceilings were twelve, perfect for eavesdropping, and I guessed she was trying to snap me out of my daze. Fleur, a copywriter here at the firm, knew about my crush. Everyone did.

Clearing my throat, I reached for the package in Mark's hand. He held onto it for a minute, grinning before he let go. It was wrapped in cheerful yellow paper. Yellow is my favorite color. Did I tell him that once? Had he filed away that little fact the same way I filed away everything he ever told me? I mean, really, it could hardly be coincidence, right? He smiled down at me, and my racing heart stuttered, stalled, then revved into overdrive. Oh, God. Could it be? Did he finally want to get back together?

I'd worked at Mark's firm for the past four years. We were the only advertising and public relations agency in northeastern Vermont. Our staff was small-just Mark and me; Fleur; the office manager, Karen; and the two pale computer geeks in the art department, Pete and Leila. Oh, and Damien, Mark's personal assistant/ receptionist/willing slave.

I loved my job. Excelled at my job, as proven by the large poster on my wall, which had very nearly won a Clio, the Oscar of advertising. Said Clio ceremony took place eleven months ago out in Santa Fe. And in that beautiful, romantic city, Mark and I had finally hooked up. But the timing wasn't right for a serious relationship. Well, at least that's what Mark had said. Honestly, has a woman ever said that? Not a lot of twenty-nine-year-old women truly have timing issues when it comes to being with the man they love. No. It had been Mark's timing that wasn't right.

But now…now a gift. Could it finally be that the time was right? Maybe now, on the very day that my thirties began and I entered into that decade where a woman is more likely to be mauled by a grizzly bear than get married…maybe today really was the start of a new age.

"Open it, Callie," he said, and I obeyed, hoping he didn't notice my shaking fingers. Inside was a black velvet box. Squee! I bit my lip and glanced up at Mark, who shrugged and gave me that heart-stopping smile once more. "It's not every day my best girl turns thirty," he added.

"Oh, gack," sniped Damien, appearing in the doorway. Mark glanced at him briefly, then turned his eyes back to me.

"Hi, Damien," I said.

"Hi." He stretched the word into three syllables of contempt… Damien had once again broken up with his boyfriend and currently hated love in all its forms. "Boss, Muriel's on line two."

Something flickered across Mark's face. Irritation, maybe. Muriel was the daughter of our newest client, Charles deVeers, the owner and founder of Bags to Riches. The company made outdoorwear from a combination of plastic grocery bags and natural fiber. It was our biggest account yet, a huge deal for Green Mountain, most of whose clients were in New England. I'd only met Muriel once, and then only briefly, but Mark had been flying back and forth to San Diego, where Bags to Riches was based. As part of the package, Charles had asked Muriel to come to Vermont and work as the account exec, so he could have someone close to him keeping tabs on things. And, since Charles was paying us gobs of money, Mark had said yes.

Mark didn't answer Damien, who was quivering with the joy of running Mark's day. "Boss?" Damien said, a bit more sharply. "Muriel? Remember her? She's waiting."

"So let her wait some more," Mark answered, tossing me a wink. "This is important. Open the damn box, Callie." Damien sighed with the heavy drama that only a gay man can pull off and hustled down the hall.

Cheeks burning, I opened the velvet box. It was a bracelet, delicate silver strands that twisted and turned like ivy. "Oh, Mark, I love it," I whispered, running my finger over the intricate lines. I bit my lip, my eyes already misting with happy tears. "Thank you."

His expression was soft. "You're welcome. You mean a lot to me. You know that, Callie." He bent down and kissed my cheek, and every detail was immediately seared into my brain-his smooth, warm lips, the smell of his Hugo Boss cologne, the heat of his skin.

Hope, which had been lying in ashes for the past ten months, twitched hard.

"Think you'll make it to my party later on?" I asked, striving for perky and fun, not lustful and ruttish. My parents were throwing me a little bash at Elements, the nicest restaurant around, and I'd invited all my coworkers. No use pretending: I was turning thirty; might as well get some presents.

Mark straightened, then moved a pile of papers from the small couch in my office and sat down. "Um… Listen, I need to tell you something. You met Muriel, right?"

"Well, just that once. She seems…very…" Hmm.

She'd worn a killer black suit, had great shoes…kind of intense. "Very focused."

"Yeah. She is. Callie…" Mark hesitated. "Muriel and I are seeing each other."

It took a few seconds for that to register. Once again, I was that stupid deer, watching mutely as the pickup truck hurtled down the road. My heart slammed to a halt. For a second, I couldn't breathe. Michelle Obama stood by, shaking her head sadly, her fabulous arms crossed in regret. I realized my mouth was open. Closed it. "Oh," I heard myself say.

Mark looked at the floor. "I hope that doesn't cause you any…discomfort. Given our past involvement."

There was a white, rushing sound, like a river engorged with snowmelt and hidden debris. He was seeing someone? How could that be? If the timing was okay for Muriel.why not. Oh, crap.

"Callie?" he said.

Here's the thing about being hit by a truck. Sometimes those deer keep running. They just bound into the woods, sort of like they're saying, Whoo-hoo! That was close! Good thing I'm okay. Um…I am okay, right? Actually, you know what? I'm feeling a little strange. Think I'll lie down for a bit. And then they wake up dead.

Mark's voice lowered. "The last thing I want to do is hurt you."

Say something, the First Lady commanded. "No, no!" I chirruped. "It's…just…no worries, Mark. Don't worry." I seemed to be smiling. Smiling and nodding. Yes. I was nodding. "So how long have you been…together?"

"A couple of months," Mark answered. "It's…it's fairly serious." He reached out and took the bracelet out of the box, then put it on my wrist, his fingers brushing the sensitive skin there, making me want to jerk away.

In the many years I'd known Mark, he'd never dated anyone for a couple of months. A couple of weeks, sure. I thought five was a record, quite honestly.

Ah. My body was catching on to the fact that I'd just been slammed. My throat tightened, my joints buzzed with the flight response to danger, and a sharp pain lanced through my chest. "Right. Well. You know what? I have to get my license renewed! I almost forgot! You know…birthday. License. Renewal." Breathe, Callie. "Okay if I zip out for lunch a little early?" My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat again, studiously avoiding Mark's dark and now sorrowful eyes.

"Sure, Callie. Take all the time you need."

The kindness in his voice made me feel abruptly murderous. "I won't be long," I chirped. "Thanks for the bracelet! See you in a bit!"

With that, I grabbed my oversize pink hobo bag and stood up, excruciatingly careful not to brush against Mark, who still sat on my couch, staring straight in front of him. "Callie, I'm sorry," he said.

"No! Nothing to apologize for!" I sang. "Gotta run. They close at noon today. See ya later!"

Thirty minutes later, I stood in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the effects of being emotionally run down by the man I loved-and now hated- but still loved-were catching up with me. Michelle Obama had abandoned me, regretfully acknowledging that I was beyond help, and Betty Boop was clamping her lips together and blinking back tears. Trying to keep the choo-choo train of despair at bay, I glanced around. Gray, grimy tile floors. Dingy white walls. I stood in the middle of a line of about ten people, all of us listless and lifeless and loveless.or so it seemed.

The whole scene was like something out of some French existentialist play… Hell is not other people. Hell is the DMV. Robotic clerks shuffled behind the counter, clearly hating their lot in life and contemplating the easiest form of hari-kari or embezzlement so they could leave this grim place. The clock on the wall seemed to taunt me. Time's a'wastin', kid. Your life is passing you by. Happy fucking birthday.

My breathing started to quicken, my knees felt like a hive of angry bees. Tears burned in my eyes, and on my wrist, my stupid birthday present tickled. I should just rip it off. Melt it down into a bullet and kill Mark. Or myself. Or just swallow the bracelet whole and let it get tangled in my intestines and require emergency surgery and then have Mark come to the hospital and realize just how much he really loved me after all. Not that I would have him now. (Yeah, sure, Callie, said Mrs. Obama, making a reappearance. You'd eat a baby if it meant having him.)

Well. Maybe not a baby. But the idea that Mark was with someone…for a couple of months, fairly serious…ah, shit! Panic loomed like the jaws of a great white shark, terrifying and unexpected. Stupid Muriel with her black hair and white skin, like some vampire in fabulous shoes…when the hell had they started dating? When, dammit?

Oh, crap. Should I go? No. I had to get my license renewed. Today was the last day I could do it without incurring a fine. I'd picked out this wicked cute outfit, too-red-and-white printed blouse, short red skirt, big gold hoops, and my hair was perfect today, all shiny and swingy. Besides, what could I do? Sit in my car and wail? Kick a tree? Strangle a moose? I really wasn't the type. The only idea that held any appeal was that of sitting in my rocking chair and eating cake batter.

A dry sob raked my throat. Shit. Shit on a shingle. Shit on rye.

"Next," called one of the DMV drones, and we all shuffled forward six inches. The man behind me heaved an audible sigh.

Without another thought, I fumbled in my purse for my cell phone. Where was it? Where was it, dammit? Tampon…no. Book on CD…no. Picture of Josephine and Bronte, my nieces…even their beautiful faces failed to cheer me. Where was the phone? Ah. Here. I scrolled down to Annie Doyle. Damn! I got her voice mail. Somehow, it felt like a personal insult. How could my best friend be unavailable in my time of need? Didn't she love me anymore?

Clearly the choo-choo was chugging faster now, so I scrolled down for backup. My mom? God, no…this would just be confirmation that the Y chromosome should be erased from humanity. My sister? Not much better. Still, it was someone. Mercifully, Hester answered, even though I knew she was at work.

"Hester? Got a minute?"

"Hey, birthday girl! What's up?" My sister's voice, always on the loud side, boomed out of my phone, and I held it away from my ear.

"Hester," I bleated, "he's seeing someone! He gave me a beautiful bracelet and kissed me and then he told me he's seeing someone! For a couple of months and it's fairly serious, but I still love him!"

"Jesus, lady, get a grip," muttered the man behind me. Without thinking, I whirled around and glared. He raised a contemptuous eyebrow-jerk-but okay, yes, heads were starting to turn. Miraculously, no one I knew was here today…the DMV was in Kettering, the town next to Georgebury, so at least there was that.

"Is this Mark we're talking about?" Hester asked, as if I'd discussed any other man for the past year. Or two. Or four. Ah, shit!

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All I Ever Wanted 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 894 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Georgebury, Vermont Callie Grey knows she loves her boss, Mark Rousseau, who dumped her. She dreams he will realize she is his one too until he shatters her dreams breaking her hart when he announces on her thirtieth birthday he is engaged, but not to her. Callie's mother throws her a birthday party at the family run Misinski's funeral home. Embarrassed by her mom's kindness and her family's advice to ignore the butthead, Callie decides to wake up her unrequited beloved by dating someone else to make him jealous. Shy veterinarian Dr. Ian MacFarland prefers animals to people especially after his former wife toasted him. However, he likes Callie, who lives life to fullest; she thinks he is pathetic, but decides he will do to achieve her mission. As they fall in love, he fears commitment so Callie who has revised the mission has a tough assignment, but she has Bowie to serve as her matchmaking canine. This is an amusing contemporary romance starring two wonderful likable lead protagonists, a charming setting (even the funeral home), and a strong support cast. Fans will enjoy Callie's strategy to provide the vet with a personality make-over though sitting on his lap while he sits on a rocker makes her think he is perfect. Fans will enjoy this entertaining lighthearted frolic due to the eccentric cast (canine and human) who bring out the fun in this charmer. Harriet Klausner
FaythfullReader More than 1 year ago
I stayed up all night unable to put this one down. The relationships were deeper in this latest installment (I've read all of them thanks to my nook in the last few months. ). I could have read more! I'd love to see things from Ian's perspective-so Kristan if you're reading this-it's a thought :) ! The family relationships were wonderful and descriptive. I really felt as if I understood more about who Callie was. I laughed at all the witty jokes out loud. The parents were a mixture of the humorous and the truly real. Thank you for Noah. I just loved that relationship. Can't say enough wonderful things about this book. I could read 1000 pages of this type of writing.
PrincesaYari More than 1 year ago
I love Kristan Higgins books. This book I read it through a flight from Vegas to New York. Kristan Higgins always makes her main characters likable and relatable. It was fun and had a great ending. I was always laughing and sometimes got teary eyed. Little bit of everything! Totally recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by this Author and I loved it. I can't wait to read another one of her books. I couldn't stop reading it. I usually read serious romance novels. This one was great because it was more fun and funny than serious.
PhoebeMarie More than 1 year ago
This is the first Kristan Higgins book I've read. Gotta say, never thought I'd cry over a rocking chair :). I absolutely loved this book. The characters were amazing. Her family made me laugh non-stop. Now, I'm off to buy another one of her books to enjoy!
Lindsay_Reviews More than 1 year ago
All I Ever Wanted is quite honestly a guilty pleasure. It's a pretty predictable book, full of characters who have no financial worries or obligations, it seems. As much as I don't want to like romances, I like this book. The characters are likable, the story is sweet and there's really nothing not to like about it. It's probably not something you want your super classy book club to catch you reading, but it's definitely a good beach read. This book is great for a young 20's reader and, I will admit, older readers will likely enjoy it as well (if you like some fluff in your reading, that is).
pat54 More than 1 year ago
I have read all of this author's books-mostly by accident-they were economical from the e-book library. This one is truly her best one,though I have enjoyed every one of them. This book however, seemed to have more depth to the characters and the humor and wittiness of the main character was entertaining and she was very charming.Her relationship with her grandfather was touching and the storyline kept me interested from the very beginning. I look forward to reading more from this author and will add her to my list of authors to watch for new books.
Versalvr More than 1 year ago
Kristin Higgins does it again with her writing style and her approach to writing this book. There were some points in the book that were unrealistic, but it made it humorous when you read the reactions of the characters in the book. The characters of Callie, Mark and Ian present the turmoil of finding love and for Callie trying to get hitched. Some reactions of the characters are a little misunderstood and it became hard to follow the characters at some points. Otherwise, this was another read great for a day when you are stuck in the house or need to escape from something.
hms2mf More than 1 year ago
Kristan Higgins is the best if you want a good light romance novel with added humor. This book was a great quick read. Not my absolute favorite of Kristan's but I still enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love books that make me laugh and cry. Can't get enough of this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like her books. Great characters and witty prose. Wasn't crazy that she chose Michelle Obama as the "lady" Cassie longed to immulate. Jackie Kennedy would have been a much better choice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this contemporary romance piece, and it's one of my favorites by the author!
Anonymous 3 months ago
What can I say? This book made me laugh, it kept me captivated, and it made me cry. This book touched all the important areas that make a story memorable and award worthy. I hope you, too, find it inspires all kinds of emotions. A definite recommended read. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SO GOOD! Loved this one! Very funny, the laugh out loud kind. Ian doesn't say much but, when he does...swoon!! Callie is hillarious! Great combination. I definitely recommend this book. S.A.K.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A &#402&alpha&tau&epsilon&#402&upsilon&iota m&epsilon&epsilon&tau<_>i&eta<_>g <p> Rosa was at the park, despite it being closed today and the gate locked. <p> She was so determined to find out what it was that was here that she had climbed over the fence. She was now covered in mud, which blended in with her dark skin and clothes. Her hair was tied into many brades and curled up around her head. <p> She looked around and walked forward, creeping up to the bathroom. It was raining, and thunder was clapping. <br> She peered behind and saw nothing. She crept there and looked around. <p> Suddenly, a man wearing a big, muddy cloak with the same simbol as on the note jumped out at her and put his hand over her mouth. <br> "Shhhh. It is not safe here." <p> She bit him and twisted out of the hold, grabbing her knife. <p> He held his hands up to show he had no weapons. "I mean no harm. We cannot talk here." <p> After a few minutes of inspection, Rosa loosened her possition and put her knife back. <br> "Come." The man said, leading her to a tree. <br> They jumped into a hole and Rosa was mistified. It was an underground library! There were oversized eggs everywhere, organized in groups of ten. Some eggs were naturally sized, some were humongous, and some were slightly smaller than humongous but still fairly big. <p> "What's with the eggs?" <br> "It's part of our job." <br> "There's more? What do you do?" <br> "I can tell you, but you must keep it a secret." <br> She nodded quickly. <br> "We... hatch, train, and ride dragons. Dragon Riders of the Ka. Also known as the Dragon Riding Ka." <br> Rosa burst out laughing. "There's no such thing..." She said between laughs. "Dragons!" <br> He picked up one of the eggs that was cracked and tapped on it, until a creature popped out. <br> It was as big as your hand, had giant, blue, transparent butterfly wings, and it was a sort of greyish black. It had four legs, a long neck, and it was... a dragon. <br> "Then what is this?" <br> "Um." <br> "A SoaringRain dragonet. It is female, or properly called a dragoness." <br> "Can I have it?" <br> "If you join us." <br> "Do I have to wear a weird cloak?" <br> "No. We have a few open possitions for traveler and trainer." <br> "Does that mean I have to travel? I don't know the first thing about dragons, and I don't even know how to train them!" <br> He put down a book, Dragopedia, on the table. "This book has every dragon ever. Over a hundred. So, are you going to join." <br> "Can I have that draon and name it whatever I want?" <br> "Everyone gets a dragonet that they have as there first dragon." Sadness filled his eyes. "But that doesn't make them imortal." <br> Rosa picked up the dragonet and put it on her shoulder. She opened the book to the page about SoaringRains. 'They eat small insects, and whenever they flap their wings, droplets of water come off.' <br> "You shall be.... hmmm... Droppette!"
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I have read a few of this authors books, with mixed results. I liked this one. The heroine was a bit much at first, but I really came to like her. The hero was a bit too stoic, but not dislikable. Good chemistry, but very PG. Good storyline, very compelling. I liked it. I will keep my eyes open for the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Ian was great he was so shy and Callie so "big". The only drawback was the whole Michelle Obama thing. That was a no no for me. Also the line about the Bush administration. Leave politics out. If you like light, funny, and a little romace give it a try.