Here’s what readers are saying
J. Z. Howard dares to confront the confusion between love and sex through his main characters, Dean and Kate Nelson, baby boomers who strive to have it all. In this contemporary love story, the cast of characters comes alive on each page as they confront important questions that give readers much to think about. We empathize as they live, love and struggle with the true meaning of intimacy. I highly recommend this story to anyone in a committed relationship or who wants a committed relationship–one that not only works, but brings it up a notch to a sacred sexuality where sex and love no longer compete. Though geared to Christian couples, there are lessons for all. Kudos!
Dr. Brenda Schaeffer, author of the best-selling Is it Love or Is It Addiction?
“This kind of [book] is badly needed in Christian Circles”
You will be intrigued and educated and entertained all at the same time. I strongly recommend All of Me Wants All of You – no matter if you’re newly married or years wed. You will learn so much about God and yourselves and your marriage. The further I read, the more convinced I became that this kind of discussion is badly needed in Christian circles. [JZ says: Read more of this terrific review here!]
Deb Haggerty, Positive Grace
5 Stars! Daring Topic Handled with Grace and Insight
In this compelling story of marriage, intimacy, connection and community, author JZ Howard handles a daring, difficult topic with grace and insight. Important issues are examined — how long should someone stay in an unfulfilling marriage? Is there something more to sex than simply the physical act? How does someone balance a partner’s needs — physical, spiritual and emotional — with one’s own? The most crucial questions raised by Howard are these: Is there a place for spirituality in the marriage bed? Or are faith and sexuality mutually exclusive?
The four main characters don’t seem to have much in common at first. Dean and Kate’s marriage is in deeper jeopardy than Kate wants to admit. As a single mom, Larissa struggles with balancing independence and parenting a teenager while lamenting her grim childhood in foster care. Trevor knows what he wants in a woman but doubts he will find her. Each character is searching for something — connection, community, and intimacy.
In his portrayal of these people, Howard makes it easy for us to connect with them. They are completely human, with strengths and struggles, looking to help and be helped by their loved ones. These are original characters that turn stereotypes upside down. What I found most refreshing about the book is how the characters talk about their relationship with God without being preachy, strident or judgmental. The best part — they are all searching to connect with each other and Howard’s storytelling demonstrates their journeys in the most complete way possible.
Amazon review by EZcoach
A Running Leap at an Unusual Subject – RECOMMENDED*
“Regardless of how lonely and disconnected it felt,… the dream of sexual
enjoyment and intimate connection with Kate remained dim.”
This is an intricate story about love—between men and women, between people and God. Seasoned author J. Z. Howard has taken a running leap at an unusual subject: how people whose lives are grounded in Christianity deal with, or don’t, problems of marriage and faithfulness. Kate and Dean are trying to regain their wedded bliss in the face of encroaching middle age, while single mom Larissa is looking for some quick solace as she despairs of raising her teenage son. When Larissa and Dean meet, it looks as though things will take a conventional turn: lonely man whose wife’s affections have grown cold bedding a charmer who has always had sex first and love later. But in Howard’s competent hands, this dilemma is far more complex and solutions aren’t that easy. Kate and Larissa decide not to hate each other; there is a man for Larissa, Dean’s friend Trevor, but he is tough to capture because he puts love first; and Dean’s desperate dreams will always be of his conflicted Kate, who must conquer demons from her childhood.
As Kate and Dean gradually reunite after battling “like two weary boxers,” and Larissa learns that real love doesn’t happen overnight, the reader sees genuine character development. Because God hovers around this well-written non-genre fiction (not solely Christian, not solely romantic), the philosophical overtones will give the reader a lot to contemplate. Modern society has become mute on some of the ideals the author gives voice to here: Temptation doesn’t have to be yielded to, and love can grow with age. All of Me Wants All of You would make an enthralling study guide for sincere intelligent adults committing, or recommitting, to long-term relationships.
* Less than 10% of books submitted to US Review of Books are RECOMMENDED. This rating denotes “compelling and lasting reads.”
©2014 All Rights Reserved • The US Review of Books • http://www.theusreview.com
Gritty, Emotionally Charged, Page-Turning Saga
All of Me Wants All of You is an emotional and provocative tale portraying the depths of love. “In order to receive love, it is essential to enjoy pleasure – and to trust being vulnerable to it.” Dean and Kate’s marriage is pleasing to the eyes of others, but in reality it is a train-wreck, a play of deception. Under the covers of their marital bed sheets, nothing is happening. When a young vibrant woman, Larissa, haphazardly enters their lives, their marriage and relationship is tested to its foundation’s core. Facing an impasse, both spouses hold on to their devotion to faith and family values. Kate looks at their lack of intimacy as a “problem to ignore,” while Dean’s perspective is a “mystery to be solved.” Looking deep within their souls, will they surrender the past, open up and enjoy the present, and seize the strength to change their future?
J.Z Howard writes with unbridled passion in All of Me Wants All of You. I applaud his boldness and non-hypocritical approach to marriage, sexuality and temptation regarding the contemporary Christian Church. His use of biblical verses are placed dynamically within the storyline and are non-sanctimonious. His characters are ruggedly handsome men and empowered, yet very feminine women. These are not your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical Christian novel characters. Instead, they are real people, facing big issues, holding on to their faith. As a reader, your heart and soul bleeds for the characters as they face the enormity of their personal conflicts. All of Me Wants All of You is a gritty, emotionally charged, page-turning saga that peaks and then dramatically recedes into a promising, redeeming conclusion.
Reviewed by Readers’ Favorite reviewer Cheryl E. Rodriguez, 4 Stars
This story is AWESOME!
I love that it dealt with real issues and I’m glad the author did not shy away from these issues. So often the church wants to hide, but we should not; this story lets us know that hiding is not an option, if we hide we can’t be made whole and we may even perish. Thank you J.Z. Howard for giving me the opportunity to read your book, I knew it was going to be good after reading the 1st chapter.
A Memorable and Worthwhile Read
J.Z. Howard dramatizes the mid-life confusion of a married couple at odds over a prolonged loss of intimacy that threatens their future. Interwoven with their struggles—a story of their falling back in love—is a second love story that involves two late-30s singles, a resilient single mom and a worldly-wise missionary. The story weaves through the lives of these people and their college-age children as they experience life-changing connections in various ways.
I empathized with the ups and downs of their challenges, having wrestled with similar relationship issues in my own life. The final chapters brought tears to my eyes through the emotional connections I felt with the characters and the choices confronting them. We all have to make complex choices, don’t we?
In the end, the four adults, each wounded in different ways, make individual decisions to let go of their grief and pain, and to discover new ways that stretch their faith and open themselves up to experience touches of divine timing and emotional healing. We live in a universe of spiritual energy, I believe, and surprising outcomes can occur that are divinely orchestrated. I found the author’s writing style realistic and engaging, and am grateful for the moving storyline that made for worthwhile reading.
M. Brandow, Entrepreneur and Free Spirit
Very Human Characters Seeking Intimate Connections
This very impressive novel tackles a sensitive and captivating topic, the role of sexuality within marriage, and offers very human characters wrapped in an all-to-familiar dilemma, the loss of intimacy. The author does a wonderful job of exploring this issue deeply through the journey of Kate, Dean, Larissa and Trevor. Unlike many other couples, however, Kate and Dean treasure their vows and use their Christian faith to work through the problem rather than just calling it quits (though Dean is on the edge at times). I believe this book could be very meaningful to readers who struggle with the difficulties of Dean and Kate.
I also appreciated the inclusion of Larissa in the book. On the surface, she might have come off as a home wrecker, but the author did a great job of making her sympathetic. Her doubts about God and resistance to organized faith are completely understandable and make her a well-rounded character.
Stellar Story Told With Style
The author of All of Me Wants All of You addresses a problem in many marriages today… sexual emptiness and lack of intimacy. We follow a couple married for over twenty years as they struggle with this problem. Kate and Dean Nelson grow steadily apart as they become “strangers in the same bed.” This leads to a momentary infatuation on the part of Dean for another character, Larissa Beaumont, an attractive younger woman with her own dashed hopes for connection. Eventually the marriage becomes so strained that Dean moves out, and Kate must choose to make difficult choices or count her losses.
The author spends a great deal of time exploring the interrelationships of these characters, and shows sensitivity toward the ramifications of all their decisions. He weaves an intricate plot that will have you searching your own heart as to what God may want you to do in your own marriage or life.
In dramatic strokes, this story interweaves many godly principles into the trials of these identifiable people seeking wholeness, and will challenge readers to take stock of their own thoughts and actions, which can lead to a restoring of broken relationships. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to go “deeper” in a love relationship that is struggling. This book champions numerous positive ideas and solutions that can help heal a relationship with a spouse, using the spiritual power of a Christian perspective to live victoriously.
Former Teach and Small Group Leader
More Than Just An Entertaining Story
What a great book! All of Me Wants All of You hit so close to home for me as a married man. I could relate in so many ways to the husband in the story, Dean, and found myself walking in his shoes through much of the narrative. But I was moved the most by his wife Kate’s story. I cheered for her the whole way and was brought to tears as she had her breakthrough in Larissa’s studio. The author did such a wonderful job showing that problems like this can exist in an otherwise loving marriage, and that there is hope.
The topic of sex can be a bit taboo for Christians and many couples, even in the context of marriage. That’s why, for me, this book was actually very therapeutic in that it related insights into how I might improve my own marriage and the confidence that I can, and should, be talking to God about it. Perhaps the next best step will be to encourage my wife to read it. I highly recommend this novel.
Chad Neuharth, Husband, Father and Avid Reader