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Book review: ‘Everything She Wants’ is an angst-filled yet light-hearted romance

"EVERYTHING SHE WANTS," by Sarah Alva, Covenant Communications, $15.99, 212 pages (f)

At 30 years old, Lucy Kappal is basically a spinster among her Utah peers, many of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And although her on-again, off-again boyfriend seems perfect, she jumps at the chance of leaving the country for a week to escape his marriage proposal in “Everything She Wants.”

In England, Lucy meets the handsome and obviously worldly Emerson James who is clearly not her type or religion. Except, for some reason, the two seem continually put in each other’s paths. Before she realizes what her heart is doing, Lucy falls in love with Emerson. But when he abruptly leaves, and they lose contact, she goes back to her ex-boyfriend and accepts his marriage proposal. After all, it’s impossible she and Emerson will ever cross paths again and her marriage prospects are few. But cross paths they do, and Lucy must ask herself what kind of a relationship she wants and with whom.

With the deaths of parents, a religious awakening and a Latter-day Saint single's life issues continuously in the mix, “Everything She Wants” has an appealing depth, great supporting characters and a wonderful premise. Author Sarah Alva easily captures interest with the delightful escapades of Lucy in England, and the book moves at a great pace while there.

But a shift in both the pacing and personality of the novel occurs once Lucy travels back to Salt Lake City. The seemingly careful, kind woman in England is now shown as a self-doubting weakling who is unable to decide her eternal future. So, while the romantic ending is a happy one, it is unfulfilling due to Lucy’s never-resolved character flaws.

“Everything She Wants” has clean language and zero violence. Romance doesn’t go beyond kissing but occasionally references sex outside marriage. The main characters are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with typical faults and virtues.

A native of Arizona, Alva lives in Salt Lake City with her family.