Review: Exclusively Yours (The Kowalski Family #1) by Shannon Stacey

July 21, 2014 2014 Read & Review, 2014 Reading Challenge - Purchase, 2014 Reading Challenge - Review, 3.0 Stars, Book Review, contemporary, ebook, Meh, omnibus, prickly pear heroine, Purchases, reunited lovers, Romance, series, Small Town Romance 0

Exclusively Yours

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When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town–and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan–for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

This book has been an interesting experience for me. There was a lot of negative impressions/views about Keri (the heroine) at the beginning of the book and those negative views were not initially tempered by Keri’s own voice. Other than the basic character introduction and [plot] motivation, the reader is told about Keri from the view of Joe (the scorned ex) and his twin sister Lisa (the scorned ex-best friend). Not to beat about the bush, the initial view of Keri is…pretty atrocious. Seriously. The reader learns that Keri dropped Lisa – her best friend – in high school when she became popular and that Keri dropped Joe – her high school sweetheart – as soon as the diploma hit her hot little hands. Then Keri leaves town and doesn’t see or speak to them again…for almost 20 years. The reader learns that Lisa was really hurt by Keri’s actions and that Joe was devastated: he withdraws from his family and friends and becomes an alcoholic.

Let’s be honest, Keri sounded like a bitch and I have a hard time rooting for bitches. I was about five seconds from DNF’ing this book at chapter one…until I thought about something: Keri was 18 when she moved away…Joe became an alcoholic at 18?! WTF, yo! That’s…a bit much to try to put on a kid’s shoulders. Having that thought really was the only thing that kept me from tossing this one.

I’m glad I finished the book. I can’t say that I loved this one – I’ll not re-read it – but I can say that I enjoyed it. I loved meeting the Kowalski family – and I have to say that I think the family is…a million times a better draw for me (for these books) than the romances are. The Kowalski family and their endearing interactions is what kept me turning the pages.

After the initial (rocky) meeting that I had with the book, Exclusively Yours and I settled down for a nice little read. Later in the book I learn that Lisa sorta cut herself loose (instead of being dumped by a cold-hearted friend) but Keri really did run out on Joe. The reasons giving were…silly but made some sort of sense for an 18 year old, I guess. The 20 year gap was a bit unexplainable but still…it made me look at Keri in a different light. The other thing that really irritated me was Joe and his issues. I have a hard time believing that he was so devastated at 18 years old by his high school sweetheart leaving (who he never tried to contact) that he became an alcoholic…when alcoholism/substance abuse doesn’t seem to run in his family. I get being in love, in pain and wanting to drown the hurt…but he was still a kid. Not buying it. I also had a problem believing that Keri would not have known this. They are from a small town and their parents are friends. Come on! I’m not buying that, either.

I enjoyed watching Keri and Joe rekindle their romance – though I can admit that there was disbelief suspended in order to get past the 20 years (not a single conversation though their mothers are friends?? Not buying it). Once I got pass my issue with the 20 year gap, the extreme antagonism that Lisa has…and Joe’s issues…I thought it was a pretty good read.

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