Sunday, 3 March 2013

#CBR5 Book 22. "Exclusively Yours" by Shannon Stacey

Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Keri Daniels, journalist in an LA gossip magazine, wants a promotion and it's almost within reach. Then her ruthless editor discovers that her high school boyfriend was Joseph Kowalski, reclusive bestselling author, and presents her with an ultimatum. Get an interview, or lose her job.

Joe Kowalski has never forgotten the girl who really broke his heart, by leaving him in the dust after graduation and never looking back. Now she desperately wants an interview with him, and while he's not really inclined to share his secrets, few as they are, with the world, by agreeing to answer her questions, he can spend some more time with Keri. If she comes with him on the two week Kowalski family camping trip, she will get to ask him one question for each day she survives. No phone, no computer, no social media of any kind - just Keri Daniels and the entire rambunctious Kowalski clan.

Keri can't really refuse, and the sexual chemistry between her and Joe is as potent as ever. Of course, Keri's former best friend, Joe's twin sister Terri, is not about to see her brother's heart broken again, and will do anything in her power to stop keep Keri and Joe apart.

This is the first of the many contemporary romance novels by Shannon Stacey, chronicling the lives of the many eligible Kowalski men. I've previously read the third in the series (there is really no need to worry about reading these in order), so when this was FREE on Amazon a while back, I jumped at the chance to get it. Stacey writes believable, engaging characters who clearly enjoy spending time in each others' company. She does a brilliant job of introducing a large cast of supporting characters, as well, without it feeling like obvious sequel bait, like some authors seem to.

In this case, Joe's formidable parents, his siblings and their many energetic kids are almost as much fun to read about as the former high school sweethearts finding their way towards their happy ending. Joe's twin Terri (Theresa Kowalski Porter) is probably the most important secondary character, as she's struggling to piece her own failing marriage back together and channels far too much of her anxiety towards Joe and Keri, determined to break them apart. Unsurprisingly, since this is a romance, no one ends up getting divorced, and Joe and Keri discover that while they didn't find their HEA straight after high school, it's never too late to rekindle that old flame. I will absolutely be checking out more of Ms. Stacey's books.

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