Sunday, November 18, 2012

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 the Kowalski Family series and another enjoyable story. I can tell you, without hesitation, that Shannon Stacey is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, and this series is must read for me. The stories are sweet, passionate, humorous, and often focus on valuable lessons, reminding us of what is most important in life; Love, family and integrity.

There are so many things to love about this story! Revisiting the Kowalski clan as they come together for Paige and Mitch’s wedding made for some fun times. Watching Rose and Andy grow closer – Rose’s snarky (for Rose) comments and Andy’s obvious affection for her. Meeting Lauren’s troubled teen age son, Nick, and getting a glimpse into the man he’ll become. And most especially, Ryan and Lauren, the stars of this story.

Ironically, my favorite part of this story is also my least favorite. Like the cover blurb tells us, a lot of years have passed since Ryan made Lauren an offer she was obviously able to refuse, and both moved on with their lives, though neither ever forgot the other. Circumstances have brought them together again, so with all those years behind them and nothing to stop them, they’re finally ready to take a chance on each other and see what the future might hold.

And this is why it's my favorite part: I loved how real it felt. How we watched their struggle - Ryan's to approach Lauren again after having already been shot down once. It might have been 16 years ago, but the wound she inflicted to his pride, and his heart, is still fresh. And Lauren's struggle to take a chance and allow someone into her life again, especially a man like Ryan Kowalski who makes her feel things no one, not even her ex husband, had ever made her feel.

And this is why it's my least favorite part: It's heartwarming, at times poignant and inspirational, but by the very nature of this story, it also causes some lag in the flow and pacing. Not to the point of distraction, mind you, but for me it was there and that's the only thing keeping this from being a 5 star read.

So now I'm very much looking forward to Josh's story and finding out if he can make his own dreams come true. He's been the one person holding everything together while everyone else was off following their own dreams and now it's his time to shine. And then there's Liz's story, too. That girl's had it rough and it's time that she have a chance at love, whether she realizes she wants it or not.

The bottom line: Like all the books in this series, All He Ever Desired is a romantic, steamy, funny, feel good story. The devotion to family and community gives these books that small town feel that I adore, and the characters - their lives and loves - are what keeping me coming back for more.

My thanks to and Carina Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review. As always, it was a pleasure.

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