All That You Are

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Overview


Single mom Danalee Jackson owns the Blue Note?an Alaskan bar offering nightly jazz and a cocktail of regulars who have an opinion about everything. Between dealing with her son's dad, a failing float-plane business and her bar's code violations, Dana has no time for romance.

Mark Moretti is burned-out after finishing his father's legacy project, the multimillion-dollar Grove Marketplace in downtown Boise. He's ready for a break from the family...

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Overview


Single mom Danalee Jackson owns the Blue Note—an Alaskan bar offering nightly jazz and a cocktail of regulars who have an opinion about everything. Between dealing with her son's dad, a failing float-plane business and her bar's code violations, Dana has no time for romance.

Mark Moretti is burned-out after finishing his father's legacy project, the multimillion-dollar Grove Marketplace in downtown Boise. He's ready for a break from the family construction business—maybe for good. And a summerlong fishing trip looks like just the ticket.

When a canceled flight leaves Mark stranded in Ketchikan, he finds himself at the Blue Note. One look at the exotically beautiful Dana and he decides to stay in town. But her fierce independence not only could jeopardize Mark's help with renovations—it could also bring their mutual attraction to a screeching halt.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans who have followed the escapades of the older Moretti brothers in All The Right Angles and All That Matters will enjoy meeting wild-child Mark, age 40 and facing a midlife crisis. While spending the summer in Ketchikan, Alaska, he’s thrown out of the Blue Note bar and into love with its beautiful proprietor, Danalee Jackson, a part-black, part-Chinese 28-year-old with a murky history, a young son and a policy against dating customers. When the Blue Note is cited for building violations, financially strapped Dana accepts Mark’s offer of help, and their relationship unfolds through verbal jabs that turn gradually into conversations. Tin-ear dialect and Mark’s alpha-male aggression will turn some readers off, but Holm’s affection for her characters and the beautiful setting lend a hint of savor to this sweet soufflé. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602856202
  • Publisher: Center Point
  • Publication date: 11/28/2009
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 423
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Stef Ann Holm lives in Meridian Idaho, a small suburb of Boise. She has two beautiful daughters, and one space cadet dog who will stare for hours at any food substance. She loves hot summers, sunshine and floating in water—even if it's a plastic pool in her backyard. Visit her website at http://www.stefannholm.com to read more about her fascinating (hah hah) life. Or you can write her the old-fashioned way at P.O. Box 1206, Meridian, ID 83680-1206

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Read an Excerpt


Sitting at her son's bedside, Danalee Jackson tucked the Spiderman bedspread next to her sleeping five-year-old. Eyes peacefully closed, he didn't stir as she gave his forehead a loving stroke. Even as a baby, Terran had been a deep sleeper.

A soft light enveloped the bedroom, its source the night-light plugged into the wall. Two dresser drawers remained half-opened, as if Terran had been looking for socks and underwear after his bath. Toys were scattered over the floor: a vibrating and light-blinking astro-man gun, dinosaur card game and the remote-control stingray with a water puddle spread beneath it on the hardwood floor. He must have brought the toy into the tub with him. His ice skates and hockey stick lay where he had dropped them Monday night after practice.

As she watched her little boy sleeping, her heart swelled with a sweet, aching love. Life before him seemed a distant memory, and Dana couldn't help reflecting back upon all the years that had brought her to this moment in time.

Everything had happened at once. One life began and another had ended. It had seemed the worst of ironies six years ago.

Dana had been earning a decent wage as a checker for the town's only Safeway grocery store, when Cooper Boyd began regularly waiting in her line. Sometimes he bought one meal's worth of food. Other times he bought paper products. Most of the time, he didn't bother with the main aisles—he became strictly a checkout-aisle shopper. He bought the stupidest things just to go through her lane so he could talk to her. Spicy corn nut packages and a sudoku puzzle book were among his purchases, and later she laughed when she discovered Cooper had zero aptitude in math.

While he did passably well in the looks department, it was Cooper's sense of humor that provided relief to her day. Working at a grocery store had been like working at a circus. Between the check staff, the managers, the various department heads and the box boys, there were a lot of issues, and many customers came with their own set of quirks.

There was the four-hundred-pound woman who clipped ankles with the wheels on her power chair. On his breaks, Scout, the morning box boy, took the electric cart out and spun doughnuts in the icy parking lot, then returned the chair to charge by the front doors. Another regular customer was the unshaven, out-of-work guy who always came in wearing his pajama bottoms and cheap rubber flip-flops.

And then there was Tori Daniel.

Without fail, whenever Tori came in wearing a thin top, black leggings and knee-high Ugg boots over her shapely calves, you could be assured every male within a ten-mile radius had her on his radar. When she turned her cart into the frozen-foods section, her headlights came on and suddenly anyone wearing boxers or briefs seemed to have business by the fish-stick case.

Grocery store work hadn't been Dana's dream job, but it had been a great employment opportunity in Ketchi-kan. She'd been without a college degree and had no desire to get one. If it hadn't been for…well, a lot of things. Who knew, maybe she would have stuck it out and applied for a managerial position.

Cooper, with a dirty-blond shock of hair over his brow, was slightly stocky but not overweight. She found out through the gossip circle at the Pioneer Café that he'd been born here, but moved to Homer in the first grade. Now that he'd returned to Ketchikan, he planned on starting a hockey league at the local rink.

She began looking forward to seeing Cooper Boyd's smiling face in her lane.

On a rainy Saturday morning, a ginormous jar of extra-crunchy peanut butter came rolling down the conveyor belt with Cooper trailing behind it. That was the day he asked her out.

As far as first dates went, theirs had been low-key. Burgers at Burger Queen and a make-out session afterward in the front seat of his Dodge Ram at a scenic overlook. They didn't do anything other than kiss, but his technique had lit her on fire like a Fourth of July rocket.

A few days later, she brought him to meet her parents.

Dana's father hadn't thought too much of Cooper's potential, and neither had her older brother, Terrance— who'd been her idol since she'd been a toddler and able to stand and look up to him. Terrance said Cooper rubbed him the wrong way, claiming Cooper didn't readily look him in the eyes when they had a conversation. He said an honest man would have nothing to hide.

Rare were the times when Dana disregarded her brother's advice, but that had been one of them. She caught herself making excuses for Cooper, telling her brother he needed to extend himself more and get to know Cooper better.

Maybe she felt that way because it had taken Cooper so long to ask her out. So he had a few shortcomings. Who didn't? He was easy to talk to, he always picked up the tab and the physical attraction was too hot to deny.

In the end, Terrance's final word had been she'd have to learn from her own mistakes. After all, at twenty-two, she lived on her own and took care of herself in her own apartment.

Dana's mom, Suni, had been reserved in her opinions about Cooper. A cultural thing perhaps, but since Terran's birth, her reticence had all but vanished in a vapor. Now she had plenty to say about Cooper.

Leaning forward to kiss Terran's sweet-boy cheek, Dana let memories from the past slip away. Things that had happened six years ago shouldn't be dwelt upon. She only had one sinking regret; it caused a dull heartache that sometimes consumed her. Her father and brother weren't here to watch Terran grow up.

They would have been so proud of him. Even of her, and the woman she'd turned into.

As Dana rose from the twin bed, fatigue overtook her. Even after so many years as the owner, the late hours she put in at the Blue Note still felt foreign to her. There were moments when she longed to call it quits by nine o'clock and be home to put Terran to bed herself. She savored Sunday when the bar was closed. And she looked forward to Tuesday and Thursday nights when her trusted employee, Leo Sanchez, took over her duties and she had a couple of blessed nights at home.

Tonight was not such a night.

The hour had to be somewhere around two-thirty. Walking to her bedroom, she paused, then took the stairs to the kitchen. She knew from experience it was impossible for her to come home, crawl into bed and fall instantly asleep. She had to decompress and unwind, look through the mail, make out a grocery list, mindlessly click through the television stations. After today, she might even eat a Twinkie.

Quietly heading into the kitchen, she flipped on a light, then stood bleary-eyed in front of the open cupboard. No Twinkies. No Ding Dongs. Not even a homemade cookie. Just Goldfish crackers. Not her usual choice, but she was hungry and decided to plunge into the box of processed cheese and sodium.

Today had been very, very long. Made longer by the two fish-brains belting each other this evening.

Sometimes she wanted to walk out of the Blue Note and never go back… but she couldn't do that to her father. Never. Ever. He counted on her, even in death. She felt it. She knew it was what he'd want. And a part of her, the part she kept hidden from everyone, even her mother, was a part of her that was afraid to let go.

"I didn't know you liked Goldfish."

Dana turned to find her mom standing in the kitchen doorway wearing a flannel housecoat and squinting against the bright light. Her inky-black hair brushed her narrow shoulders.

"I don't," Dana replied, digging back into the bag. "We don't have anything else to munch on."

"There's fruit in the fridge. Apple slices. Terran had some with his dinner."

"I'm not in the mood for fruit."

Suni reached around her for the peanut butter jar. "You don't eat enough fruits and vegetables."

Had Dana not counted on her mother in a hundred different ways, she may have made a retort. But she kept her comments to herself. If it hadn't been for her mother helping with Terran, she'd be lost.

Her mom whipped up two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then poured two icy-cold glasses of milk. "Sit down, Dana. You look ready to drop."

"I'm so tired." She sank into the chair, grateful to be off her feet. "A pair of mainlanders broke two glasses and a beer pitcher and spilled hot wings all over my floor."

And a guy called me sweetart, as if I were a piece of candy.

Dana's thoughts hadn't dwelled on the man who'd said it, but now she let herself recall the sound of his voice. Deep and husky, a dose of sarcasm mixed into his words. He was good-looking and he knew it.

Quiet resistance fell over Suni's face. A long moment passed and she said nothing, as if biting her tongue. Then, the inevitable question: "When are you going to sell the Blue Note?"

Dana didn't respond. "You don't have to get up every night to check on me when I get home, Mom. I'm okay."

"You're not okay."

Refusing to have the same discussion over and over with her mother had gotten easier. Dana had her own tactics in their verbal warfare. In a way that usually worked, she steered the conversation in a different direction.

"The bears haven't gotten into our garbage cans lately. It's a pain to keep the trash on the service porch, but at least it saves us from cleaning tipped-over cans on the front lawn."

"I'm grateful for that. Nothing worse than smelly trash in the grass." Suni put the peanut butter and bread away. "Come to bed, Dana."

"I will."

A single light on a side table remained switched on downstairs as they climbed the steps. When Terran had begun walking, Dana feared that he'd somehow get up from his bed at night and fall down the stairs. She started leaving a light on, just in case he woke and ended up on the landing. For a time she'd used a baby-gate, but he figured out how to open it, and the restraint was all but worthless.

No longer worrying about Terran and stairs, Dana still kept the lamp on for comfort and no other reason. The milky glow helped make the home feel guarded downstairs.

Dana had few fears, but being home alone in a dark house was one of them. There was something to be said for having a man in the house at night. Too bad she didn't know of any.

Too bad Cooper Boyd had turned out to be a bad nightmare.

Dana undressed for bed, then slid between the warmth of new flannel sheets letting go of the day. She finally relaxed.

Closing her heavy eyes, her thoughts drifted like a tide rolling back into the sea. She was too tired to keep the man who had challenged her to smile from her mind. She tried to remember his face.

He had nerve, that's for sure, and a confidence she rarely saw in men who flirted with her, and this one had done so quite blatantly. Most came on to her with a lot of pretense—cock-and-bull stories, but when it came to asking her out, many didn't follow through. Her brother had told her that since she was so beautiful, men had a difficult time with her looks. They felt threatened.

Dana rolled onto her side, hugging the pillow and settling into a drowsy warmth. She didn't think she was that pretty, but she did acknowledge she was different. Nobody else in Ketchikan was black and Chinese, with a quarter Caucasian thrown in. And that did set her apart.

"But I'll come back another time to make you smile."

Yeah, sure… go ahead and try.

Those were her last thoughts before falling into a deep sleep.

"I'm not going to Kenai—just thought you should know." Mark spoke into his cell phone.

From the redwood deck of Jeff's rental condominium, Mark gazed at the panoramic scenery below. Cedar and hemlock trees flanked the steep hillside, the ground alight with white and purple blooming flowers. An overcast sky hung heavily in the air, but he could make out the waterway. Earlier this morning, the harbor had been cloaked in fog. Now he could see four monstrous cruise ships, like large bleached-white whales, lining the dock space.

"Where are you?" his sister, Francesca, asked.

"Ketchikan. My connection was canceled on Monday, then I missed Tuesday afternoon's flight out. We went fishing first thing and didn't make it back on time. So I'm staying at Jeff Grisham's rental condo for the duration."

Mark fought off a yawn. He'd woken when the sun began to break just after four—six o'clock Boise time— and he could have used a couple more hours after last night's lack of sleep. Years of hitting an alarm at that hour and the habit of getting up early meant he was awake for the day.

"Duration of what?" Franci's voice reverberated through the line, concern marking her tone. "Who's Jeff Grisham?"

"A guy from Seattle I met at the Pioneer Café two days ago. I went in for lunch to wait for the next flight out and we got to talking. He's here to go fishing, so I decided to stay overnight because he hooked me up with a sweet fishing charter in town. Then I missed my re-ticketed flight because our boat was late getting back." A sparrow swooped onto the deck, pecked at something, then flew off. "Be on the lookout for a big box of frozen fish. I sent you, Robert, John and Mom some halibut and salmon."

His brother Robert owned a restaurant and would appreciate the fine catch. John was a lawyer and his kids probably wouldn't go for fresh fish, but he'd sent some anyway. His mother would cook it for sure. Fran-cesca… she'd probably have her husband, Kyle, fix it for them.

"Okay, thanks." Then just like his sister, she went on with the grilling. "So why aren't you going to Kenai now?"

"What for? Fishing's great here. And that's the whole reason I came to Alaska."

The line grew quiet for a long breath. "I know why you went to Alaska, Mark. Don't try and hide the truth from me. You need time to think about Dad and what you're going to do."

"Yeah, sure. I know that." He leaned against the deck stair, his bare feet propped on the railing's lower rung.

There was a cold chill this morning, but he hadn't readily noticed when he'd stepped outside wearing jeans. His long-sleeved Moretti Construction T-shirt warded off some of the earlier morning bite, but not much. Coffee cup in hand, he'd been thinking about too many other things to bother with boots or a sweatshirt.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Stef Ann Holm Delivers

    All That You Are by Stef Ann Holm is another delightful romance filled with real life ups and down.

    Dana Jackson took over the running of the local jazz bar in Ketchikan, Alaska after the tragic death of her father and brother. Running the Blue Note and raising her young son takes up every hour in the day. As a single mother she has no time for romance, especially with a man only in town for the summer.

    Mark Moretti needed a break after his families company completed a major project in Boise, Idaho. He travels to Alaska for some much needed R & R. His first meeting with bar owner Dana Jackson doesn't end well but Mark keeps coming back to see her. He stumbles upon Dana's bar needed major renovations. He offers his help partly to get closer to Dana but mainly to help him decide the direction of his life.

    Mark and Dana start spending more time together at first in regards to the remolding. But Mark has a habit of getting under Dana's skin. He makes her feel things she never thought existed. They both start to have feelings that are beyond a summer fling. What will happen to this budding relationship after summer turns to fall?

    All That You Are is another wonderful romance by a keeper author for me. I look forward the next book every time. Mark and Dana don't have an easy relationship but their fight for their love is well worth the price.

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  • Posted September 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The location and the eccentric Blue Note patrons add depth to an enjoyable relatively simplistic contemporary romance

    In Ketchikan, Alaska single mom Danalee Jackson runs her late father's jazz club, the Blue Note. She is lonely and struggling to balance managing the bar and raising her son, but loves living in this gateway city to the final American frontier.

    With the death of his father, Mark Moretti finished their last job alone in honor of his dad. However after completing the downtown Boise project, he never had time to grieve his loss. Feeling a desperate need to get away, Mark goes off on a summer long fishing trip with no end in mind. In Ketchikan, Mark meets Danalee and her young son, who take away the blue feelings even as he goes back to work renovating her bar to meet the code.

    The location and the eccentric Blue Note patrons add depth to an enjoyable relatively simplistic contemporary romance of two lonely people falling in love. The lead couple and her son are fully developed protagonists and the audience will want the best for each of them, but the city and its surrounding area steals the show as Stef Ann Holm vividly paints the landscape. Mark now knows the answer to the Beatles' tune "Where do all the lonely People go?" is Ketchikan.

    Harriet Klausner

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