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All Beautiful Things

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The scars. She'll never forgive her attacker.

Seven years ago, a knife-wielding stranger left socialite Ava Camden for dead on the sidewalk of an upscale Atlanta restaurant. She survived, but her face was brutally scarred. The police, the courts, and the powerful Camden family pinned the assault on only one suspect: Joel Sapphire, a twenty-year-old star athlete on the cusp of a pro football career. Too drunk to remember any details, Joel was found over Ava's body, holding the bloody weapon.

The letters. His brother is her only hope for the truth.

Graham Sapphire grew up fighting on the city's tough southside, and he'll never let the Camdens crush his family. Now a wealthy hotelier, he's determined to clear his brother's name--and to find the monster responsible for Ava's scars. Graham started writing to Ava the day his brother entered prison, asking her to give him a chance and offering his help. She never answered--but she never stopped reading.

The secrets. The truth may destroy them both.

Now Joel has been paroled, only to vanish before Graham can reach him. Is he lurking in the shadows or on the run from death threats? Ava is the lure that will bring him back, but she's not alone in the fight. Graham will give his life--and even his brother's--to protect her. The bond between them is hot, tender, and almost as dangerous as the hunter who waits in the shadows of the city's darkest streets.

Nicki Salcedo is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English and Creative Writing. She is a two-time recipient of the Maggie Award of Excellence and a Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and four kids.

192 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 2, 2014

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About the author

Nicki Salcedo

8 books52 followers
Nicki Salcedo is the author of a novel and three books of essays. The title piece for her latest collection, “In My Father’s Shoes,” is based on the bittersweet experience she had wearing her father’s shoes after he died. She’s a graduate of Stanford University where she studied English and Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Good Housekeeping, Decaturish, and AtlantaLoop. Nicki has four kids. She works in the corporate world by day and writes at night. She loves connecting with writers and readers. Find out more at www.nickisalcedo.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews
Profile Image for Gina.
134 reviews11 followers
February 25, 2017
A page turner

For a long time I wanted to read this story but for the 180 pages and the price I couldn't do it. Until one day the price was reduced and that was when I bought it. all Beautiful Things kept me me on the edge of my seat until the end it was just that good!
Profile Image for Lynn Spencer.
1,194 reviews80 followers
September 13, 2018
B+ at All About Romance, so 4.5 stars Those readers who are active on Twitter may have seen Nicki Salcedo’s response (https://medium.com/@nicki.salcedo/dea...) to Suzanne Brockmann’s speech at RWA. If you haven’t, it’s worth a read. I found it infuriating and eye-opening all at once. But then, as I read through Salcedo’s description of her debut novel, All Beautiful Things, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. A Beauty and the Beast story with the heroine in the role of Beast? Sign me up.

As with many début novels, this one has a few weak points, but it’s still a compelling read. Salcedo has a distinctive voice that really sets the mood for this deeply emotional story. The novel opens with letters from Graham Sapphire to Ava Camden. In the letters, we learn that Graham believes his brother Joel has been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, and we see also that he has compassion for Ava, the victim of the attack.

The main action of the book starts with the impending release of Joel Sapphire from prison. Seven years previously, he was found drunk and standing over Ava Camden with a knife. Ava’s face had been slashed, and this brutal attack has altered her life. From what the author shows us of Ava’s perspective, she lives every day with the towering anger that her attack awakened in her. She carries scars on her face and with a few exceptions, largely shies away from attention and human contact.

After his release from prison, Joel disappears and his brother Graham, who is searching for him, shows up at the homeless shelter where Ava works. Graham is still convinced of his brother’s innocence and Ava feels equally certain of his guilt. Not surprisingly, these two don’t initially have tons of positive things to say to one another. And yet, there’s something.

At times the dance between Graham and Ava feels painful to read. However, as I read, I realized the pain for the reader comes not from dreadful writing or over-the-top clichés, but rather from Ava’s pain and darkness bleeding out across the story. While she’s built a life for herself since her attack and her shelter is truly a passion of hers, Ava does shy away from much of life. Her solitary life and her unwillingness to be photographed all seem perfectly understandable, as does her bitterness and rage over what violence has stolen from her.

This is a partial review. You can find the complete text at All About Romance: https://allaboutromance.com/book-revi...
Profile Image for Sally Kilpatrick.
Author 16 books269 followers
May 19, 2016
Disclaimer: I know Nicki, and I've read her work before. I love Nicki, and I love what I've read. Even so, I wasn't prepared for the awesomeness of this book. I read All Beautiful Things on my Kindle while on vacation at Disneyland, and I learned to use the highlight feature on my Kindle thanks to this book because there were simply so many sentences and passages I wanted to remember. When, someday, I starting highlighting things from your books, you can thank Nicki.

Here's the story: Ava has been horribly scarred and is filled with anger--she's the beast. Graham is unfailingly beautiful both inside and out--he's the beauty. Graham needs Ava's help to prove that his brother wasn't her attacker. Ava has been hating Graham's brother, Joel, a long time and isn't ready to let go of the hate. Even so, she's won over by Graham's kindness and compassion. He sees her as beautiful instead of a scarred person to be pitied, and she can't help but love him for that, too. In the end, though, can she love the brother of her attacker? Can he learn to love the woman who put his brother behind bars for seven years?

Now, based on what I just wrote this book sounds like a romantic suspense. It is....and it's not. Read the first page and you'll think it's literature. It is....and it's not. All Beautiful Things is that rare story, full of meaning, metaphor and gorgeous prose while being so compelling that you can't help but turn page after page to see what will happen next. Ava is a complex and broken character. She loves her family yet can't quite give in to them. She feels safest in a homeless shelter and stays up all night going to crime scenes to take photographs. She sees the world in often opposite absolutes and kind Graham is the one who can show her how those opposites can coexist. In the tradition of fine literature, you will take something away from this book. In the tradition of romance, you have two characters to root for against seemingly impossible odds. In the tradition of suspense, the story will keep you hooked and surprise you, too.

I'll be adding some of my favorite quotes--nothing that will spoil the story, I promise. 2014, you've got a lot to live up to after this!
Profile Image for Bryonna Nobles.
33 reviews19 followers
February 1, 2014
There are few books in my collection that I find where I am texting every reader in my phone telling them you need to read THIS. Doesn't matter the genre you prefer, doesn't matter if you are man or woman, I was texting. I only hope that they listen.

I opened the book knowing it was inspired by Beauty and the Beast with a twist. The heroine, Ava, is the beast. As you read on the back cover, she was attacked and left scared.

The Prologue starts out with a few letters from the hero to the heroine. She never writes back but he never stops writing. I think that in itself tells you the kind of man he is. From chapter one, you can see that Ava is detached. A ghost moving through life but unsure how to live it anymore. She goes through the motions, she knows what she wants - to be a normal person for her nieces, to take care of the men at her homeless shelter - but she's never been the same since her attack and now her presumed attacker is back on the streets and the man who has been writing her letters for the last seven years is suddenly standing in front of her, flesh and blood.

There are a lot of fairy tale references, some obvious, some a little hidden, that, of course, had me fan-girling a bit because I love fairy tales.

Every writer out there has a message to send. We all have those authors who designate with us. By the time I closed this book, my heart was warm and my eyes were watery.

I find myself having a difficult time doing this review without spoilers which is unusual for me but I'm just so eager to discuss it. I need those people I text to get reading.

For me, the overlaying message is that all of us have scars and sometimes we get so lost in our own pain we forget that bad things happen to other people too. Its not about saying my pain is worst than yours, its about just trying to find those people who can help us heal.

This is a book I think everyone needs to read. - And then write me so we can discuss it!
Profile Image for Pirouette.
83 reviews9 followers
January 19, 2014
This story was recommended to me by a friend and was a complete surprise to me, very original and unlike what I usually read.

I loved the mix between mystery, suspense and women's fiction and I loved Nicki's writing style, which is also fresh and original. Stark realism mixed with poetic moments and insights.

The resolution of the mystery was a little bit too quick for me, and I felt as if there were a few loose ends I would have liked to hear more about, but it was a truly great read and I am looking forward to more books by Nicki Salcedo.

Profile Image for Brenda Maxwell.
228 reviews5 followers
January 19, 2014
Righting a wrong may never happen fully in this lifetime, Nicki does a fantabulous job of trying though. "The rest of the world grew around her absence." (what? NO! the world had better stop!)"I had an accident, but I'm fine now." Tell yourself that enough times and you may ALMOST believe it. "I am beautiful, because I'm wearing you." If I tell you that enough times, you'd better believe it. This is a powerful book, beautifully written. Take the time to read it.
Profile Image for Darrell Grizzle.
Author 7 books56 followers
March 24, 2017
A thoroughly engaging novel about a young woman dealing with the aftermath of a violent crime that left her disfigured. When she meets the brother of the man accused of attacking her, a complex and complicated relationship develops. This is a novel with mystery, suspense, and romance, but overall it's a character-driven story, very well-written.
Profile Image for Wendy.
Author 4 books69 followers
August 20, 2014
Nicki Salcedo's story can be counted as a beautiful thing. The writing was lovely, pulling you into Ava's world of limited living since she was attacked. This is the story of her awakening back to life with the help of the most unlikely of romantic interests, her convicted attacker's brother. This book had some romance, drama, suspense, mystery... even arguably a unique retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale. It's a quick read, but there's an awful lot packed into it. Even being outside my usual genres (paranormal & the like), I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Hildie McQueen.
Author 194 books754 followers
February 19, 2014
I read all things beautiful in two days. I woke up not he third and thought about it. It's that story that will stay with you and you'll recommend to others. The juxtaposition of the characters is done in a good and believable way. I felt anger, sorrow and happiness. Love it, recommend it!
Profile Image for Fashionista .
343 reviews58 followers
March 30, 2015
This is a great heartfelt book. I love how patient Graham is during the entire story. I also like the "first person" flashbacks that the author used.
Profile Image for WiLoveBooks.
861 reviews57 followers
April 15, 2019
I loved this.

Ava is so sad and broken and angry, even seven years after the attack that left her face scarred. Graham just wants to prove his brother didn't do it. They end up helping each other. Loved it.
Profile Image for Kristen Mae.
Author 7 books442 followers
December 1, 2018
Beautiful story

Loved this story. Loads of heart and beautifully drawn characters. My only tiny issue was a few POV slips that were speed bumps for me, but they didn’t detract from this sweet story about learning to live again and shouldn’t stop you from reading.
Profile Image for Mrs Giggles.
138 reviews28 followers
March 9, 2014
Nicki Salcedo is an author that is new to me, but the plot synopsis of All Beautiful Things intrigues me enough to pick this up. I'm in the mood for some romantic suspense that does not involve cops, secret agents, or Navy SEALs, and this one looks like what I'm looking for.

Some seven years ago, Ava Camden almost died when she was brutally assaulted after hanging out with some friends in an Atlanta restaurant. She survives, but her face is badly scarred. Joel Sapphire - seriously, that's his name - was convicted of the crime and her father, a lawyer who held considerable social clout in Atlanta, went all out to ensure that Joel never had a chance in the court. In the process, the whole thing turned into a circus, and it became a Black Woman Assaulted By Crazy White Guy farce. Today, years later, Ava is still trying to come to terms with what has happened to her. She distracts herself by managing a shelter for homeless men, although that refuge is fast coming to an end as her mother decided to exert some tough love and close down the shelter, in hopes of forcing Ava to stop hiding from the world.

Things become more complicated when Joel is paroled when the story opens, only to go MIA. His brother, Graham, seeks out Ava because he has no other options. His mother is dying of cancer, and she'd like to see Joel again. Meanwhile, Ava decides that confronting Joel may be the only way she can find closure. Alas, it may just be that Joel is not the man that assaulted her years ago, and the actual villain may still be on the loose.

The focus of All Beautiful Things is on the psychology of the main characters than on investigative procedures. And yikes, this story is full of people who are so beautifully damaged in so many ways, if I were a therapist, I'd feel like a kid let loose in a candy store where all the adults are missing and I can eat all I want. It doesn't matter to me whether the characters are likable or not, as the authors unpeel her characters' fragile psyche in such a way that I don't know whether I'm a voyeur or an innocent bystander in a stark yet irresistible tale of sad, depressed people.

Ava is, of course, broken, and the author manages to make her a fascinating character when Ava could have easily become whiny or annoying under other circumstances. Even Graham and Joel, who seem like too nice to be true on the surface, have some horrific scars in their psyche.

The mystery isn't anything earthshattering, but the compelling unraveling of the main characters' damage make the whole thing a fascinating read that just can't be put down. Here's where the book gets a bit hard to pinpoint. The author's technique can be on the unpolished side at moments, especially when it comes to how she can get tad too melodramatic for her own good now and then. Yet, even the flaws seem to amplify the charms of this story. The rough patches seem to underscore the rawness of the emotions burning on the pages, so much so that the pain feels more real because there is something about the imperfections of the narrative that make things feel more... real, somehow. Am I making sense here?

That's not to say that this book is that awesome. The author's biggest misstep here is to have her characters fall in love. That is simply not believable in the context of this story. If these characters have sex and decide to start dating by the end of the story, I would be happy for them. For them to use the L word, however, well, that's a different story. When these two decide to drop the L word, that's when I'm jarred from the story. I can happily go with the melodrama, the occasional implausibility in the suspense department, and more because the story is just too good to read, and then comes the L thing and I find myself thinking, "Okay, now the story feels fake."

Oh well. Still, for a debut release, All Beautiful Things is everything I'm not expecting, and I mean that in a good way. I really like it, and I'd make an effort to remember how to spell the author's name for future shopping sprees.
Profile Image for Tanya Agler.
Author 31 books513 followers
July 13, 2014
Seven years ago, a brutal crime was committed. A crime that left haunting consequences for all involved in its aftermath. For Ava Camden, she has lived with three life-altering scars on her face. For Joel Sapphire, his conviction for the crime ended his dreams of playing in the NFL following his selection as a first round draft pick. For his brother Graham, his brother's conviction led to threats while he spends his time trying to prove his brother's innocence.

Ms. Salcedo did a beautiful job intertwining the characters of Ava and Graham in the aftermath of Joel's release from prison. For Ava, her life has become a web of sleepless nights intertwined with her chasing police sirens to document the crime scene, her counting everything in sight from ceiling tiles to sidewalk cracks, and her running a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta that offers refuge to all who enter its door. For Graham, his life has led to the moment he finally encounters Ava in the midst of her homeless shelter, the one place she feels comfortable, the one place she doesn't feel like she has to hide the scars.

I didn't expect to cry while I was reading this book. But I did. I didn't expect to read it in a children's play area enthralled by the different characters and their world. But I did.

While not your typical romance, this book is a strong read. It is also a dark read. Many of the scenes take place at night while Ava takes in other crime scenes. Ava herself wears black for seven years following the crime. There is a scene of violence between Ava and Graham that shows the deep scars both have from their lives going into their meetings.

A very strong debut novel from a talented writer.
Profile Image for Sheri.
Author 6 books39 followers
February 11, 2014
4.5 stars.
Nicki Salcedo has a unique voice. It's very different and I wasn't sure that I liked it. But it reflected the heroine, who is a bit "off." She's forged ahead from her life-altering injury and created something worthwhile. It allows her to share parts of herself. As strong and well-adjusted as she appears to the world, inside, she's trapped.

Mostly the reader is tied up within Ava's head. Descriptions act merely as place marks. Sometimes the reader is pulled from one scene to another. It can be abrupt, disjointed. Like the inside of Ava's head.

It comes together for the reader with a long sigh. A sigh and a slight smile and a good feeling. Optimism shines, and I didn't have a single disappointment.

I'll be thinking of these characters for a while, especially Joel, the man who is barely in it. For Ava and Graham, I have confidence that good things shall come.

I ended up thinking Nicki Salcedo is brilliant.
Profile Image for Dren.
267 reviews135 followers
January 8, 2014
Let me start with this simple fact. I'm biased. I know the author, Nicki Salcedo. She's a beautiful person inside and out. Funny. Snarky and a Superwoman. I was thrilled when I learned her debut novel was launching this month. So - I purchased it. I geared myself up for a wonderful novel of heartbreak and romance.

I was sorely disappointed. This is book is so much more than that. SO MUCH MORE!

ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS was fantastic. The storyline, the characters and the writing had me hooked from the first chapter. It's the perfect blend of romance and suspense. One never overpowered the other. And the story flowed, and flowed, and flowed. I was happy and sad when I reached the end. Happy for the characters. Sad because I didn't have any more to read.

I'm looking forward to her next book. And the next. And the next. This is clearly a perfect start to a long career in publishing.
Profile Image for Megan.
27 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2014
For years I have purposefully avoided the romance genre novel, but for no particular reason. But then my friend wrote one and I really wanted to read her book... so began my first romance novel. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I wasn't surprised that it was good because Nicki is an exceptional writer, but I was surprised how it challenged what I believed the genre to be. The plot was fast moving and I quickly became attached to the characters. This led to me finishing the book in just two days. I look forward to Nicki's next book already!
Profile Image for Kelly.
39 reviews9 followers
August 5, 2016
The story was breathtakingly beautiful! I can not even begin to tell you how I was moved while reading this book and I was enthralled from beginning to end. I don't want to give away the story in the review because this is just a book you have to read. It is about accepting the beauty beneath ones scars both physical and emotional. Nicki Salcedo has an amazing voice and I am looking forward to reading her in the future. Definitely read this book!
282 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2014
A friend gave me this book. I am not really into romance writing but I read it. I liked that Atlanta was the setting and so many spots were very familiar to me and the plot was interesting. It WAS more than just a romance. The writing had merit also. I think I just do not enjoy the devices of romance writing-the italicized inner thoughts, the drama, the description of embraces and I am not a fair critic for the genre.
1 review
March 1, 2015
I just read All Beautiful Things. I really enjoyed the book. I couldn't out it down. Ava was so strong and she over came the attack on her. Reading this book made me think about myself and how over came the bad things that happened in my life. Ms.Salcedo you do a great job writing this book and my your next book hold your readers attention like this book. Keep on writing wonderful books.
Your fan four life.
Profile Image for Carissa Gilman.
55 reviews
January 19, 2014
A lyrical, sexy novel about loss, family, race, class, finding your place in the world, and the nature of beauty. The flawed characters ring true, as do the complex feelings surrounding the familial ties that bind us. Lots of beautifully written sentences here that will have you nodding your head in agreement at the universal truths they impart.
Profile Image for Lindi Peterson.
Author 24 books83 followers
February 12, 2014
Amazing debut novel. The writing is superb, the character's heartaches becomes yours as you read, as well as their triumphs. Brilliant secondary characters round out this story. This is a book that you recommend to everyone. Nicki Salcedo has a gift and I can't wait to read more from her. Write fast, Nicki!
Profile Image for Carol Burnside.
Author 12 books77 followers
January 22, 2014
As the star ratings say, I really liked it! In the spirit of disclosure, I'll admit I know Nicki Salcedo personally. We are both members of Georgia Romance Writers and blogged for awhile on a group blog.

The writing has a definite literary feel with a lyrical quality about it that draws you in.

Thanks for an enjoyable read, Nicki!
Profile Image for Kristin.
Author 4 books5 followers
February 23, 2014
You should know that I never give 5 stars unless a book can unseat one of my "Top 5 of All Time" books. This book doesn't do that, but its deft characterization, compelling storyline, vivid sense of place, and just plain readable-ness (late into the night in a hotel room when I clearly needed to go to sleep early before my big meeting the next day) handily earned 4 stars.
Profile Image for Tomika Moody.
1 review1 follower
September 25, 2014
No need to recap the story--others have already done that. This novel is where good writing and good story meet. The dialogue is crisp, the exposition is just right--Nicki allows the characters to lead us instead of bludgeoning us with too many details. The story moves quickly and leaves you satisfied. A good read, indeed!
Profile Image for C.E. Hart.
Author 5 books40 followers
September 10, 2015
I love beautiful storytelling.

I love when passages from a book get stuck in my head like a catchy tune I can’t get enough of.

I love falling in love with fictional characters and the authors who create them.

And I love finding that rare gem that upon reaching the final page leaves me forever changed.

I love All Beautiful Things.
Profile Image for Carolyn Keel.
54 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2014
I received this through First Reads Giveaways.

I really, REALLY enjoyed this book. It blurred the lines between several different genres... romance, drama, thriller... I don't know... it just... it took the best parts of each of those genres and mushed them together into something great, powerful, and moving.

I really look forward to reading more of Ms. Salcedo's work in the future.
Profile Image for Alina Field.
Author 34 books305 followers
March 22, 2015
This is a lovingly written story of a woman's journey to forgiveness and justice. I think it might be slotted as a romance but IMHO is more correctly described as women's fiction. I love that the author avoided the easy clichés and worked against the racial stereotypes so prevalent in the media. In spite of the brevity of this short novel, she developed each character as an individual.
Profile Image for M.J. Flournoy.
Author 5 books9 followers
January 23, 2015
This was a very good read. I enjoyed the internal struggle the heroine faced, she grew from a wounded, broken girl into a vibrant, strong young woman. The plot held many interesting twists. Just when I thought I had it figured out, it took off in another direction. Kept me guessing to the end.
Profile Image for Romily Bernard.
Author 7 books371 followers
February 27, 2014
What a phenomenal debut. I loved this one. Just LOVED it. Salcedo hears a rhythm in words that NO ONE else gets. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and poetic. Welcome to your new auto-buy author. Amazing debut.
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