Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey


A second shot at first love?

After college, Ryan Kowalski decided to leave Whitford, Maine, rather than watch Lauren Carpenter marry another man. Now his siblings need his help to refurbish the family-owned Northern Star Lodge and he’s forced to face the past sooner rather than later when he collars a vandal—and learns the boy is Lauren’s son….

The last person Lauren needs back in her life is Ryan Kowalski. With a bitter ex-husband and a moody teenage son, she has enough man trouble already. But her son needs to learn a few lessons about right and wrong, even if Lauren has to escort him to Ryan’s door every day to work off his crime.

With all this close contact, Ryan and Lauren can’t deny the chemistry between them is as powerful as ever. But can a few searing kisses erase their past and pave the way for a second chance at true love?

All He Ever Desired is the fifth book in Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Brothers series. Usually around this time in a series, especially if I’m reading them one after another, I might find myself getting bored or that the stories are becoming less interesting or too similar.  Not so with this series.  Each brother and their story is unique, and I really love that about this series.  Oh, all the Kowalski’s are good men  but each faces different challenges when it comes to life and love.  

Ryan Kowalski hasn’t returned to Whitford since asking his best friend’s wife to run away with him.  I don’t blame him. That’s a tough offer to make and an even tougher rejection to face.  But when the Northern Star Lodge needs repairs that his business experience and crew can deliver, he does the right thing and comes home to lend a hand. The last person he needs to run into is Lauren Carpenter, but he knows that it’s going to be hard to avoid her or her family.  

When Ryan becomes the designated driver at a family wedding and has to take Lauren and her friends home, he can’t deny his feelings any longer, and things heat up very nicely.  But this happily-ever-after is complicated by a teenage son, and an ex-husband, and Lauren, who may not want the same things Ryan has been craving in his life.  It’s a right sticky situation.

I liked the storylines in this book.  Dealing with an ex, a teenage son who is acting out some of his problems in not so healthy ways, partners wanting different things out of life, compromising on living arrangements to be with the one you love.  I wasn’t sure until the very end how it was going to end up, and I especially liked the unexpected drama at the end with the ex-husband, and I loved how it became very clear that the ex-husband was interested in not only his son’s happiness, but also Lauren’s happiness.  He could have been a real jerk about that, and he wasn’t.  

I loved seeing both the New Hampshire and Maine branches of the Kowalski’s together in this book, and could have used more them. It’s always a treat when characters from previous books in the series return.

The ladies in town are also a nice treat.  Their support of each other is really an awesome aspect of this series, even if that support comes with all the women in each others business. Rose even offers a bit of drama with an old situation that comes to light.

Shannon Stacey nails what it’s like living in a small town, especially how everyone knows everyone elses business (I speak from experience.) I also find her “coming home” subplots to be very realistic as well.  This is a wonderful series if you are looking for something light, fun, with just the right touch of angst.   

Another solid offering in this series. 4 out of 5 flames.

Thanks to Harlequin and NetGallery for the eArc in exchange for an honest review. 

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