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review 2017-03-14 12:24
What It Takes: A Kowalski Reunion Novel (The Kowalskis) - Shannon Stacey

I was super excited to get a Kowalski vacation of doom. The Kowalski family series is one of my favorite ever. I loved getting to spend time with the entire family, and seeing how the family has grown since the last book.  I will say if you haven't read the rest of the series, you will be lost with all the family dynamics if you try and start with this story. I highly suggest starting with the first book in the series, Exclusively Yours.

 

With all the members of the Kowalski clan in one book, there was lots going on and I'll admit it was hard to keep up with the growing family at times, but I loved every minute with them. What It Takes also had a budding romance between Laney and Ben. While I liked both Laney and Ben as individuals, I had trouble with them as a couple for most of the book. Ben and Laney didn't seem to be on the same page to start a relationship. Laney had just ended her marriage and not ready for anything serious, while Ben was at the point in his life that he was ready for a serious relationship. I thought Laney and Ben had great chemistry, but had trouble buying into them as a couple for the majority of the book. I did love that Laney received immediate acceptance into the Kowalski family, which was so nice as her own parents didn't support her decision to divorce her ex-husband. I also loved that Ben's family also accepted Laney so quickly. 

 

I did end up liking Ben and Laney as a couple by the end of the book. I think since there was so much focus on the Kowalski family, their story took a bit of a backseat at times and it took me until about the last 20% of the story to really become invested in their relationship. 

 

 

Rating: 3.5 Stars (B-)

Review copy provided by publisher

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review 2017-03-01 14:45
Review: What it Takes by Shannon Stacey
What It Takes: A Kowalski Reunion Novel (The Kowalskis) - Shannon Stacey

If you haven’t read any of Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series, stop right now and go pick up the first book, Exclusively Yours, pronto. Any format will suffice, but just grab it and start it soon! I recommend the Kowalski Family series to first-time and veteran romance readers more than any other series, and for good reasons - it is a wonderfully written, joyful, small-town romance series that gives all the feels. So with that said, if you haven’t read the series, I really don’t recommend starting with What it Takes for a couple of reasons. First, this is a “reunion” book, bringing back all of the couples and characters from the previous nine titles. Their stories will be lost on someone who’s not read the series. Second, I feel this story is the weakest of the ten books, and therefore, not a great example of how wonderful this series truly is.

 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to my review… What it Takes is a combination between the love story of Laney Caswell and Ben Rivers and reunion tour of the Kowalski family and friends from the first nine books in the series. Unfortunately, the book tries too hard to cover both storylines, leaving me not quite satisfied with either. I did enjoy my time back in Whitford, ME; however, I felt I had to work too hard to follow along all the going-ons, and frankly, I would have preferred a stronger romantic storyline instead of the reunion.

 

The book opens and closes strong, following the budding romance between Ben and Laney. Ben grew up in Whitford, and is friends with the gang. Now that Northern Star Lodge has become so popular with the 4-wheelers, Josh got the town to offer his friend a job as a paramedic helping on the trails when riders get injured. Laney recently finalized a drawn-out divorce. Now she's starting over in a camper at the Northern Star Lodge where she’s spending the summer helping out the growing business. Once the pair meets, there are sparks flying right from the start. I adore the couple’s awkwardness, especially their initial meeting when Laney takes care of Ben's cuts. The humor is spot on and exactly what I have come to expect from Ms. Stacey. 

 

Just as the couple show signs of a romance, the Northern Star Lodge is overrun by the annual Kowalski Family Camping Trip (of doom), and the reader is treated to a rundown on every thing and everyone Kowalski. Additionally, there is a side story involving Emma and Sean (from Yours to Keep, one of my all-time favorite books!). While I loved seeing my favorite fictional family, I felt there was too much history from other books shared. The author spent a lot of time retelling the connections between the various characters and telling readers what everyone has been up to. As a fan of the series, having read each book (some more than once), it was redundant, and took away time that could have been spent on Ben and Laney’s romance.

 

Back to the romance, Ben and Laney make a great pair, once we get to see them spend some quality time alone. Laney is a strong woman, but she lacks the self-confidence needed to get on with her life after her divorce. She is so worried that she'll make life decisions based on pleasing others that she forgets to look into her own heart and discover what makes her happy. Her fears are understandable so it doesn't bother me when she pushes Ben away time and time again. However because there is so much scene time spent reacquainting readers with the Kowalskis, I felt it took away from any positive progress the couple made. And it’s just too bad because these two lonely people deserved a solid story. 

 

With all that, I truly enjoyed my return to Whitford, ME, and catching up with the Kowalskis. The series is one of my favorites, mixing small town romance and humor; dishing out life lessons and love. While What It Takes has all the hallmark notes that makes the series so fabulous, I felt at times it was weighed down by the reunion aspect of the novel. Ben and Laney's romance often to a side or back seat to catching up with the families. It wasn't until the last 15% of the book that I finally felt a connection to the couple. 

 

My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues

Review copy provided by NetGalley

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

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text 2017-01-31 16:56
Yours to Keep By Shannon Stacey 99 cents! Great Read!
[(Yours to Keep)] [By (author) Shannon Stacey] published on (February, 2012) - Shannon Stacey

Emma Shaw needs a husband, and fast! Not because she's interested in romance—after all, she's too busy with her landscaping company—but because Grandma Shaw is coming to town, and she will have nonstop questions about Emma's (stagnant) love life.

 

Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he's recruited by Emma to be her fake fiancé. Sean doesn't like the deception, but he can't help his attraction to the feisty brunette. A little pretend kissing won't hurt anyone—especially when there's no chance he'll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he's not planning to call home. But when fake, innocent kisses lead to very real, explosive sparks, Emma and Sean discover that their big ruse might just lead to happily-ever-after….

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text 2017-01-10 04:12
Great Story and Characters
By Shannon Stacey No Place to Hide [Paperback] - Shannon Stacey

Jack and the Devlon group had rescued Isabelle one year ago. After she had been kidnapped. Isabelle has worked to get her life back and there is an attack on her life. Isabelle calls Jack. Jack still misses Isabelle and still thinks about her but Jack is the one that made Isabelle leave. When Isabelle calls for help he immediately goes to her. Jack knew how much he cared for Isabelle but he also knew how dangerous his job was and how easily he could die. Jack then finds out that the most illusive hit man is after Isabelle and his record was perfect. Soon Isabelle and Jack are on the run trying to keep her alive. Of course Jack has some help from the team. I loved this story. This story had plenty suspense, action and hotness. I loved how Jack went right to Isabelle when she really needed him and he didn’t have any seconds thought about going to her. I loved how Isabelle was strong even after all she had been through. I love how Jack no longer doubts his or Isabelle’s feelings. All and all a great read. This was fast paced and I also loved the plot. This was also well written. I loved the characters . I also loved the ins and outs of this story and I highly recommend. I do just wish it was a little longer

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review 2016-12-30 21:34
Controlled Burn Book Review
Controlled Burn (Boston Fire) - Shannon Stacey

This was a fun romance. I loved the firefighting scenes (only wanted more of them) and the characters were enjoyable if not insufferable at times. I've been in an adult romance mood and this was perfect for it. Planning on reading more by this author in the future. 

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