Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review:What it Takes by Shannon Stacey

The Kowalski Family, A Reunion Novel
Carina Press
February 28, 2017
ISBN-13: 9780373004553
ISBN-10: 0373004559

Revisit all of your Kowalski favorites while falling in love with a brand-new romance in this reunion novel from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey.

Laney Caswell is looking for a change. A decade’s worth of less-than-happy matrimony behind her, she wants peace—movies, books and, best of all, a new job at the Northern Star Lodge in Whitford, Maine. Spending the summer living in a camper is her chance to rediscover what makes her happy, and a perfect transition to her new life.

Being a paramedic in Whitford is nothing like Ben Rivers’s city life, but when Josh Kowalski offers him the job, the lure of his hometown is too much to resist. Also too much to resist: Laney Caswell. Ben always thought he’d have a wife and kids, a happy family like the Kowalskis have all built, but he never made time in his life. Now he’s found a woman who draws him like no other and helps him dream again—and the last thing she wants is a husband.

When the annual Kowalski family camping trip is moved to the Northern Star, both Ben and Laney are surrounded by the kind of happiness they’ve always wanted but never had. It just might be theirs—if they can put aside the past and reach for it together.

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 What I thought about What It Takes

I've been a fan of Shannon Stacey's Kowalski series and so reading and reviewing this tenth book in the series was a no-brainer for me. There something about the Kowalski clan that just makes me feel good, and What It Takes follows that tradition for me.

The romance in this installment is between Ben, the quad-driving paramedic who is the go-to guy for medical events happening on the quad trails of the Northern Star Lodge. He's a bit seasoned after having spent his younger years working in the city where he was too busy to find himself a wife and start a family.  Now that he's back in Whitford where things are a little slower, he's reminded of what is missing in his life. When he runs into Laney who is helping Rosie with the chores ta the Lodge, he's attracted to her, even though he knows she's in a much different place.

Laney is happy working at the lodge and staying in a camper for the summer as she finds her old self after a stifling marriage.  I really got where she was coming from.  When she finds herself attracted to Ben she's faced with the dilemma of letting her heart go again, or resisting the pull she feels for him because she needs to be able to stand on her own two feet after her divorce.  

Neither Laney or Ben can ignore the attraction they feel toward each other, and eventually give into it.  Laney tries to keep her emotions under control, not wanting to jump into another relationship so soon, and Ben is very patient with her.  But he's not willing to wait forever, and the moment it becomes clear to Laney and Ben they cannot reconcile their different viewpoints is heartbreaking. 

What It Takes is really more about the relationships in Whitford than it is about the Kowalski's although the family is front and center when there's a 4th of July family reunion at the Lodge. There's a very sweet story revolving around Emma and Sean that warmed my heart and it was great catching up on both sides of the Kowalski family.  I'd forgotten about some of the early books and it was great to be reminded of the characters and just how much this entire series has wormed it's way into my heart.

If you are a fan of the series, this is a "must read".  If you haven't read the series, I think What It Takes would standalone as a contemporary romance. Either way, you will get Shannon Stacey's wonderful voice as she tells the tale of another couple in the town of Whitford. It's all about the love of friends and family and I love that about this series.  

ARC provided for review. 

About the Author

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler. From May to November, the Stacey family spends their weekends on their ATVs, making loads of muddy laundry to keep Shannon busy when she’s not at her computer. She prefers writing to laundry, however, and considers herself lucky she got to be an author when she grew up.

You can contact Shannon through her website, where she maintains an almost daily blog, or visit her on Twitter, her Facebook page, or email her at

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