Nicole Deese has written over a dozen humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels, which include a Carol Award winner and a RITA finalist. When she’s not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Inland Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two tech-nerd sons, and one princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.
In this interview, Nicole discusses her latest book, All That It Takes.
FF: All That It Takes follows single mother Val Locklier. Can you tell us a little more about her character and what her life has been like up to the start of the novel?
Val is a calculated risk taker who adores her free-spirited 10-year-old son, Tucker. But much like her son, she’s felt some growing pains in recent years and is debating a fairly big change of scenery and pace. Val and Tucker have lived in Skagway, Alaska, in a home with her parents since he was a baby, and the itch for some space and independence has made itself known.
For the past several years, Val has worked as a virtual assistant for her best friend, popular beauty influencer Molly McKenzie (from my previous book, All That Really Matters), though her secret passion is in the area of filmmaking—documentaries to be specific. Despite Val being risk averse, she knows the best thing she can do for her adventure-seeking son is to say yes to the marketing job Molly has offered her in Spokane, Washington, even though it will mean putting her dreams on hold . . . or will it?
FF: Although they’re standalone novels, are there any connecting elements between All That It Takes and your previous novel, All That Really Matters?
Yes! There are several connections. Val and Miles were both active side characters in All That Really Matters, and I thought it was only fair for Molly and Silas to make an appearance in All That It Takes, too. Although both stories can be read by themselves, readers will be happy to note there are some exciting relationship updates since the close of the last book.
FF: All That It Takes explores how life can often derail our plans and shatter our expectations. How does this theme present itself through your characters’ experiences?
Both Val and Miles will face some unique challenges and hardships—each in their own way—and just like in life, the most logical solution isn’t always the best one. In All That It Takes, Val and Miles will explore the value of waiting on God’s perfect timing even if that perfect timing seems to directly oppose what they want most.
FF: This book also addresses the relationship between authentic love and sacrifice. Can you tell us a little more about how these elements come into play in the lives of your protagonists?
Authentic love and sacrifice often go hand-in-hand with motherhood and maternal instincts, but Val will be given several opportunities to deepen her understanding of love when a few surprise characters are introduced in this novel—no spoilers, sorry!
FF: What other lessons do you hope readers gain from reading your new novel?
I hope Val’s lifelong struggle with the fear of rejection will resonate with my readers as she gains a healthy understanding of what it means to fully step into her true identity in Christ. I also hope that Miles’s journey of learning to be still when he’s so used to being on the go and tackling service project after service project will resonate with those of us who find it hard to wait and ask for guidance.
FF: What do you love most about writing contemporary romance novels? Are your readers guaranteed a “Happily Ever After”?
The short answer: All of it! And YES!
The not-as-short answer: I love to write redemptive love stories featuring flawed characters in need of grace and hope because my own true-life story has been afforded the blessing of redemption many times over. I simply can’t imagine holding such a beautiful gift back from any of the characters I’ve come to know and love over the course of drafting a novel.
All That It Takes
Release Date: April 5, 2022
When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she’d planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend’s brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers’ mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val’s community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord.
Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he’s also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects—not the least of which is pursuing Val—without stopping to consider the future.
As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they’ll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.
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