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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'Yours to Keep' Kowalski Family #3 by Shannon Stacey

Received from NetGalley

From the BLURB:

Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.

Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…

Sean Kowalski has just arrived home from his last tour of Afghanistan, and he is treated to the strangest of home-comings . . . between greetings from his cousins, bear-hugs from his aunt and pile-on’s from his nieces and nephews, Sean Kowalski is informed that he is fake fiancée to his sister-in-law’s best friend, Emma Shaw.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, really. Emma’s grandmother recently moved to Florida and was worried about leaving Emma alone in her big stately home. Worried that her grandmother would sell the house that means so much to her, Emma fictionalized a man around the house for Gran’s peace of mind. Lack of imagination and plausibility saw her dragging her best friend’s brother-in-law into the equation. But now Grandma Shaw is coming home for a visit, and Sean Kowalski is coming home from a tour of duty and Emma is finding herself between a rock and a hard place. . .

Luckily for Emma, Sean has some time and procrastination on his hands while he figures his life out away from the army. While acting as Emma’s fake fiancée, he will be working for her landscaping business and deciding on where life will take him after Grandma Shaw returns to Florida.

Meanwhile he and Emma are acting a little too much in love for either of their liking. It’s one thing to fool Grandma Shaw, but are Emma and Shaw also kidding themselves?

‘Yours to Keep’ is the third book in Shannon Stacey’s sweet contemporary romance series, the ‘Kowalski Family’.

I fell in love with the Kowalski clan back in March, with Stacey’s first book in the series ‘Exclusively Yours’. This is a family of strong, mule-headed men and the women who love them. This is one of the best contemporary romance series out at the moment, so I was thrilled to learn that a third book was scheduled. And ‘Yours to Keep’ does not disappoint in the least.

Once again Stacey kicks her book off with an unusual bang. Joe Kowalski convinced his lovely lady to go on a family camping trip for the sake of an exclusive news story. Kevin Kowalski found his one-night-stand on his doorstep with a bun in her oven. Sean is a Kowalski-cousin, but he has a similarly ludicrously sweet beginning when a beautiful woman knocks on his door, informing him they are (fake) engaged and would he mind carrying on with the charade for the sake of her poor grandmother? Admittedly the origins of this love story are fairly outlandish – but that’s as wacky as the story gets. What follows is a strange romance that unfolds under false pretences, hot wanting and lusty coupling.

All of the Kowalski men thus far have been hot, stubborn and lusty manly specimens. Sean Kowalski is no different. He’s a funny, laid-back guys-guy who hates broccoli, loves football and can’t believe his strenuous luck when a beautiful woman knocks on his door and invites him into her bed for a fake engagement. He’s so sweet and hilarious, I loved Joe and Kevin respectively, but Sean is just as lovable and I can’t choose between them! If I had any complaints about his character it’s that I would have liked a bit more back-story about his time in the army. As it is, Sean returns home and there’s not a word of how hard his time was, no talk of night-terrors or fallen comrades. I know that if Stacey had explored the ramifications of his army life then ‘Yours to Keep’ would have been a very different story . . . but I still would have liked some acknowledgement of his time in Afghanistan.

Emma Shaw was a wonderful heroine for the imposing Sean Kowalski. She’s a bit of a tomboy, without Stacey writing the usual clichés for such an un-girly heroine. Emma is a landscaper, who doesn’t mind getting dirty; she speaks her mind and doesn’t let Sean get away with anything. Emma being able to hold her own against Sean provide some great laugh-out-loud interactions between them;

He drummed his fingers on the wheel. “I just don’t want you getting any ideas, that’s all.”
Getting any ideas? Emma was speechless for a moment, unable to believe he’d actually said that.
“Since I was walking away from you when you spun me around and kissed me, I'd say you’re the one getting ideas.”
“Of course I’m getting ideas. You’re hot and I’m not dead. But I know enough not to confuse lust with anything else.”
She snorted and looked out her window. “Oh yes, Sean Kowalski. Your amazing kisses have made all rational thought fly out of my besotted brain. If only you could fill me with your magic penis, I know we’ll fall madly in love and live happily ever after.”
The truck jerked and she glanced over to find him glaring at her. “Don’t every say that again.”
“What? The madly in love or the happily ever after?”
“My penis isn’t magic.” His tone was grumpy, but then he smiled at the windshield. “It does tricks, though.”

I fell in love with the Kowalski’s back in March, so I was beyond thrilled to learn that Shannon Stacey intended to write a third instalment for her wonderfully addictive contemporary romance series. Sean and Emma were a wonderful couple, and their unconventional beginnings made for a lusty, tension-filled coupling. Now I can only hope that Shannon Stacey intends to write more stories for the ‘Kowalski Family’ – I have my fingers crossed for an instalment about Mitch Kowalski, the self-proclaimed Lothario of the K-men.

Shannon Stacey’s series keeps getting better and better, ‘Yours to Keep’ is more contemporary goodness and now I have my fingers-crossed for many more Kowalski love stories!

4.5/5

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