|Taken With You by Shannon Stacey|
Kowalski Family #8
March 25, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance 18+
(Contains: sex, strong language)
Source: eARC for Honest review
Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she's happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She's spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn't found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she's probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.
Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett's idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety - a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can't resist pushing her buttons, even though she's made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn't for her.
Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she's determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that's easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he's renting the house right next door...
This is the second Kowalski Family Series book I've read, but it won't be my last. I read the first one, and now I've read the eighth. Fortunately, these are written very well, and can easily be read as standalones. I could tell there were a few characters from previous books involved in this story, but I didn't feel like it hurt my enjoyment of this novel having not read these characters' stories before. If anything, it just makes me look forward to reading their books when I get to them. And I do plan on reading them, because I really enjoy the way Shannon Stacey tells a story.
As for Taken With You, we get the sweet story of the local librarian and the new game warden. Hailey is 40, has watched her friends fall in love, has considered moving to a bigger town to meet more single people, but loves her town and her job. Matt, the game warden, begins the story as Hailey's seeming opposite. Outdoorsy and rugged, he is not what she imagined for her future, or even her present. But circumstances have thrown them together, more than once, and despite some glaring differences, they are more compatible than they thought.
Watching their friendship/relationship develop was well thought out and well written. Hailey and Matt had great chemistry, terrific banter, humorous situations, and the honesty to tackle the real questions. The situations they were put in tested many levels of themselves individually, as well as together. Neither of them are perfect, and they had a bit of baggage and preconceived notions that needed to be torn down. They also needed some assistance from others when they were too stubborn or oblivious to see with clarity. Fortunately, they are surrounded by a great community of characters who add just the right amount of sweetness and seriousness.
Overall, Taken With You is a sweet, romantic story, full of just the right amount of humor, sass, chemistry, and reality. It's not too heavy, not too light, and with characters in their late 30s to early 40s who are really wonderful getting to know and watching fall in love, it's just the right escape for the adult romantic reader.