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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

'Undeniably Yours' by Shannon STACEY

From the BLURB:

One-night stand + two percent condom failure rate = happily ever after?

Bar owner Kevin Kowalski is used to women throwing their phone numbers at him, but lately he’s more interested in finding a woman to settle down with. A woman like Beth Hansen. If only their first meeting hadn’t gone so badly...

Beth’s tending bar at a wedding when she comes face-to-face with a tuxedo-clad man she never thought she’d see again. She tries to keep her distance from Kevin but, by last call, she can’t say no to his too-blue eyes or the invitation back to his room. Then she slips out before breakfast without leaving a note and, despite their precautions, pregnant.

Kevin quickly warms to the idea of being a dad and to seeing where things go with Beth. After all, he’s not the player she thinks he is. But she’s not ready for a relationship and, given his reputation, it’s going to take a lot to convince her to go on a second date with the father of her child...

Kevin Kowalski was happy being a bachelor. After his disastrous marriage finally crashed and burned, in one gloriously horrific finale that took his police career with it, he lapped up his bachelor lifestyle. He bought a sports bar and enjoyed the attentions of artificially enhanced women in too-small, belly-bearing jersey tops and tight jeans. But then his oldest brother went and got engaged to his high school sweetheart, and suddenly Kevin is the last man standing in his family. He’s the third wheel at family functions and the only bitter soul in a sea of happy couples . . . and then Kevin meets Beth Hansen.

Their first meeting isn’t exactly encouraging. He breaks her boss’s nose in a barroom brawl and gets her fired.

Then they meet again at his brother’s wedding, where she is tending bar in her new job. Kevin can’t take his eyes off of her all night long. He doesn’t pay attention to any of the lipstick napkins handed his way . . . he just wants Beth. And after some coaxing and moonlight dancing, they share one explosive night together.

One night. That’s all it was supposed to be . . . until Beth finds a little blue plus sign on her home pregnancy test weeks later.

Beth is a nomad. Since was the only miracle child in her family; which saw her rebel against her smothered upbringing and has spend her 20’s roaming around America. She lives month-to-month, hand-to-mouth and never stays in one place long enough to make friends let alone fall in love. And then one beautiful night with Kevin Kowalski throws a spanner in her works and a bun in her oven.

Kevin is finally ready to settle down, but Beth doesn’t want to be tied down. Beth can’t deny her baby its father, so she’s staying - with ground rules. She and Kevin will be acquaintances, bordering on friends, who just so happen to be having a baby together. Unless Kevin can change her mind in nine months. . .

‘Undeniably Yours’ is the second book in Shannon Stacey’s contemporary romance series, the ‘Kowalski Family’.

I excitedly dived into this book after reading and loving the first instalment, ‘Exclusively Yours’.

I was really looking forward to this second book, especially because Shannon Stacey dropped such tantalizing tidbits about Kevin and his past in that first instalment. I don’t really want to give anything away for those who haven’t read ‘Exclusively Yours’ yet, but there is a certain ‘OMIGOD’ element to Kevin’s past and the reasons his marriage crumbled. Save to say, it’s a devastating tale that will have you sympathizing with Kevin, and understand the reasons behind his promiscuity. I loved Kevin’s background because it instantly turned him into a wounded puppy, with a tortured past . . . in other words, my kinda hero!

I did wish that Stacey had dug deeper into Kevin’s past. I really thought that the way his ex burned him would have some affect on his relationship with Beth. But aside from explaining to her how the marriage ended, there was no real discussion or impact from his past pain. I was even hoping that Kevin and Beth would run into his ex, but no such luck.

Regardless, I loved Kevin. He’s a total heartbreaker – to the point that he has a bin especially for disposing of the numerous napkin numbers he gets handed while working at the sports bar! But even though Kevin is a ladies’ man with a killer smile, he’s also a family man . . . and it takes his brother getting engaged to highlight to him just how ready he is to start a family and settle down (with the right woman, this time).

Enter Beth. In the beginning I really loved Beth. She’s this ballsy woman with itchy feet – constantly moving around and never settling down. She meets Kevin and isn’t impressed (he gets her fired, after all) but eventually, slowly, succumbs to his flattery and flirting. I really loved that all other women came so easily to Kevin, but that Beth put up a fight. I loved that combativeness initially, but by the end of the book it became a bit of a pain. . .

Once Beth discovers that she is pregnant, she is shaken. She loves travelling around and not being tied to one place. This pregnancy forces her to stick with Kevin, and she rebels. She wants to split everything 50/50, and not take any hand-outs (even though she’s living on a waitress’s wage). Beth kicks up a stink every time Kevin tries to offer a helping hand, from giving her a place to stay, to inviting her to the Kowalski Thanksgiving dinner . . . she always feels the need to assert her independence, and remind Kevin that they are two friends having a baby, nothing more. After a little while I couldn’t help but see Kevin as a bit of a kicked puppy, under Beth’s boot heel. It got to be a little ridiculous, where she couldn’t enjoy the pregnancy (and Kevin) because she had an insane need to be free. I totally understood it, but it was still somewhat annoying to read.

Regardless, I still loved reading Kevin and Beth’s dynamic. It’s interesting to read a renowned ladies man struggle to keep his woman (even after he got her pregnant!). Once again I love that Stacey has taken typical contemporary romance storylines and skewed them slightly. In this book, it’s the baby surprise – on the flipside of things it’s Beth who is horrified of being tied-down by a baby, and Kevin who is gunning for love and marriage. To some extent it’s a little far-fetched – the fact that Beth puts up such a fight over every little offer of help and home from Kevin. Meanwhile, Kevin seems happy to dispense with his womanizing ways and get on board the baby train.
It had been a couple of years since Kevin’s marriage had exploded in a cloud of toxic flames, torching his career along with the relationship, and since then his libido had survived on a steady diet of bar bunnies. Less satisfying, but also a lot less risk, like eating a microwave meal instead of preparing a five-course meal. A lot less painful to throw away if it sucked.
In 'Exclusively Yours' there was concurrent plots concerning the other members of the Kowalski clan and their various marital problems. In 'Undeniably' the side-story is about Kevin's barmaid and best friend, Paulie, and her mysteriously rocky past with a suave businessman called Sam Logan. I didn't particularly like, or care about this storyline. I was never invested (possibly because of its total lack of connection to the Kowalski clan?). It made me wish that Stacey hadn't referenced so many Kowalski back-story's in 'Exclusively', if only to save a little something for this second installment. I'm crossing my fingers that the third book in this trilogy (coming out June 6th this year) will exclusively focus on the Kowalski siblings.

This series is so darn feel-good, purely because Stacey has written a wonderful grounding in the Kowalski family. This close-knit pack is all about familial warmth and chaos. It was wonderfully hilarious to read about the Kowalski’s camping shenanigans in ‘Exclusively’, but it’s even nicer to read about the family’s home life. I felt glowing and happy just reading how the family banded around Kevin and Beth, how they opened their arms and put aside the one-night-stand awkwardness to totally envelope the couple and support them, no matter what. Even the littlest nephews get in on the act, offering up very sweet exchanges with Beth’s burgeoning belly;
And to keep things interesting, somebody told Bobby, Kevin’s youngest nephew, the baby could hear stuff and he was determined to make his new cousin his BFF in utero. It was a bit disorientating having a kid randomly tell bad jokes to her stomach. Like now.
“Why did the weasel cross the road?” he yelled at her belly button. “To prove it wasn’t a chicken!”
Then he laughed so hard he almost fell over.
I also loved when Kevin’s niece threw in her two cents for the baby naming, hilarious!;
“And Stephanie has requested Jacob Edward if it’s a boy and Bella Stephanie if it’s a girl. Something to do with some sparkly vampire werewolf books she’s into, according to her mother.”
I am loving this series. Shannon Stacey has based this contemporary romance around a tight-knit, turbulent family – all their ups and downs, relationship woes and triumphs. I wasn’t as in love with this second instalment, but I still enjoyed spending time with the Kowalskis, and I can’t wait to read more about them.

3/5

3 comments:

  1. I've only read her short in an anthology - need to get to these! They are coming out in print next year :)

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  2. I think saw a blurb for this and thought it would be good. I didn't realize there was a book before it - I'll have to check these out!

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  3. Great review! ok, its final, Im getting these! My finance thanks you Danielle! You Meany!

    LOL

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