Sunday, May 22, 2011
ARC: Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey
Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.
Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…
First off, thanks to Shannon Stacey for a sneak peek at this one. The cover gods have surely smiled mightily upon her with this series. All 3 covers so far have been beautiful, conveying the fun, flirty, and sweet contemporary style of the books. (And the scruff - did you see the scruff on his face? *swoons*)
Sean Kowalski, cousin to Joe and Kevin of books 1 and 2, has just gotten out of the army. He's at loose ends, and so decides to hang with his cousins for a while. Emma Shaw is a friend of the family. She has somehow managed to manufacture Sean as her fake fiancé - including photoshopped pictures of them together (yes, a little creepy, even) - in order to appease her grandmother, who now lives in Florida and is worried about Emma being alone/lonely. They meet when Emma knocks on Sean's door, and rather embarrassed, tells him that he is her fake fiancé. I loved that meeting, and afterward, Sean describes Emma as "tall, hot, and batshit crazy."
This book was simply feel-good. I can't think of a thing I didn't enjoy – including the sly shout out to Stacey's Devlin Group series. Sean moves in with Emma and her grandmother for a month, as the pretend fiancé. During that time, they live together, work together, and learn about one another all while trying to fool Cat into believing that they've been together for a year and a half (a lie she fully figures out within about a half hour, LOL). I loved Sean's habit of leaving sticky notes for Emma with little messages. I loved that Emma can't cook worth a damn. I love that she's a strong woman, a business owner in a physical business, and that she just wants to make her grandmother more comfortable about her situation.
I also really, really enjoyed the secondary romance between Cat and Russell, Emma's grandmother and her long-time friend. What a sweet little treat that was.
As always, the interactions of the Kowalski family brought a smile to my face, and though they easily could, they didn't overwhelm or overtake the focus on Emma and Sean. The Kowalski cousins are all in on a pool for how long Sean and Emma can go without sleeping together, and as always, beneath the good-natured (and sometimes cut-throat) ribbing you can feel the love within this family.
Near the end, I got the little clutch in my gut and around my heart that tells me I'm hurting along with the characters. I've talked about that clutch a few other times, most notably when reading Linda Winfree's books. It tells me I'm fully emotionally invested in the story, and that I truly care what happens to the people I'm reading about.
I really like Stacey's voice. She has a perfect blend of irreverence, humor, and sweetness to her books that always makes me want to keep reading.
Yours to Keep releases in e June 6 from Carina Press. I highly recommend it!