The first book in the Kowalski Family series, published December 12, 2011. I received this book from Christi, over at Smitten with Reading blog.
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.
To my own surprise, I really liked this contemporary romance. Both hero and heroine are early 40’s and they used to be an item in highschool. But Joe was nailed to his small hometown, and a family guy, he wanted nothing out of life but to marry Keri and start a family of his own. But Keri was terrified that she would be Joe’s girl or Ed’s daughter, and then somebody’s Mom, and nothing more. She wanted to make a name for herself. (Which I can totally relate too!). So once graduation was over, she went away to college, and started on her career in journalism. She is almost where she wants to be, working for a glossy magazine. But now her editor wants her to write an article about Joe Kowalski, the boy she left behind. He also grew up to be a writer, a famous one, of horror novels. As her parents still live in that small village, and she often visits, and their mothers are still friends, she knows a lot about the Kowalski family. But she is not planning on telling her editor that. She won’t betray trust that easily.
But Keri has no other choice than to try to contact Joe, and ask for an interview. Or go looking for another job. So she heads back home, and tries to get a hold of Joe.
Joe never forgot the one girl who broke his heart. And he thinks he still is in love with her. of course he knows her editor is behind it all when he finds out she wants to interview it. The woman has been stalking him for years! But he likes his privacy, and doesn’t give interviews as a rule. But meeting Keri again, will happen on his terms!
When Joe meets her in a small diner, Keri is still as gorgeous as ever, and of course Joe is even more handsome, he has grown into a man. The sparks between them sizzle like old times, and before Joe knows what he is doing, he invites her to go on vacation with him and his family. Which means his parents, his sister Terry, (who used to be Keri’s best friend) and his brother Mike and his family, and his brother Kevin. Lots of loud Kowalski’s. And not some fancy luxury trip, no camping without many facilities. No internet, no phone, no tv, nothing. Barbeque and marshmallows, little children to take care of. Keri expects it to be awkward, but it is like she never left. Only Terry acts hostile against her. Not only for the breakup in their friendship, but she totally broke Joe’s heart. He even became close to becoming an alcoholic, and alienating his family from him. And now she is back in his life? She better not break his heart again! But Keri has been honest about her intentions. She is here for the interview, and nothing more, and after two weeks, she goes back home to San Francisco.
Of course Joe is confident he can win her back, make her stay this time. And those sparks between them, and staying together in a small cabin all work in his favor.
Shannon Stacey has a very nice writing style. It is fluent and fast paced, and it reads very easily. Lots of humor, but also serious topics between the couples.
What I did like: this book does not only focus on the relationship between Keri and Joe, but also on the problems between Terry and her husband, and Mike and his wife. Keri doesn’t like it that Joe keeps calling her babe, and his parents refer to her as: Joe’s girl. She has a name! She is not just an addition to a man. But being with Joe again really makes her happy. And she will have to make some decisions about her life, is she really having all that she wants?
And then Joe, who wants Keri to just give up her life and marry him and life with him and his family. Does he not see there are other options? He is a writer, he can work anywhere! Such a stubborn near sighted man, I wanted to smack some sense in him.
At the end of the book I am not really sure what they will end up doing, perhaps the next book will tell that. But I have to admit, I really don’t like the lecture/message that a woman is only happy when married and being a housewife and mother. So I really do hope that Keri will keep on working.