|Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey|
(Kowalski Family #1)
January 1, 2012
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
(contains mature language, sexual situations)
Source: Personal ebook purchase
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.
I love a good second chance romance book, and Joe and Keri's relationship in particular was quite refreshing. The high school sweethearts haven't seen each other in 18 years, and each eventually moved on with their lives more or less. While the reflections of high school memories are still strong, they are fully functioning (yet still single) adults and at this point in their lives are not holding grudges or pining over lost love. Hence, when Keri's boss forces them to see each other again after all this time, the cogs in their heads start turning and feelings start budding unintentionally. But the beauty of this new development between them was the absence of insufferable angst and drama, and instead a focus on real life situations, dealt with using a combination of humor and seriousness.
I really loved that this book had an entire cast of characters to get to know. Though it was centered on Joe and Keri, there were other minor storylines running concurrently within the Kowalski family, and I think that added such a nice depth and layers to this group of people. Because, if I'm being honest, I was not endeared to Keri for at least the first half of the book (I'm from Los Angeles, so I don't have the highest opinion of her field of work), so following along with everyone else actually helped me. If this story had just been about Joe and Keri only, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. But because I cared about all the stories going on, not just Joe's, I felt really drawn into the story, giving me time to befriend Keri as well.
With all that said, I really appreciated how things developed through the story, and the progression of things really captivated me. Joe and Keri's reactions and feelings felt real, from the humor and banter, the renewed camaraderie, the sexual tension, and the fears and regrets. I loved all of it. I loved Joe, who would crack me up one moment, then have me sighing along with him about his hopes and dreams. And eventually I came to like Keri and was very thankful the author finally revealed more of why Keri was the way she was.
Once again, I also loved the secondary characters in this story. Even when I wanted to smack Terry out of her stubbornness, I could still empathize with her situation. Each couple or family member had their own relationship predicaments, and the thing was that they were all so relatable. The brothers were awesome, Joe's parents were solid, and the nephews were adorable (having three sons myself, I couldn't help but love those guys).
If you like a nice romance with a second chance at love, wrapped up in a family who have their own problems but stick together, support each other, work things out, and can be a pretty funny along the way - then you should give Exclusively Yours a read. This is also the first in the Kowalski Family series, and I look forward to reading many more adventures with the Kowalskis.