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Kowalski Family #1

Exclusively Yours

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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.

An unabridged recording (7 hours, 43 minutes).

322 pages, ebook

First published May 26, 2010

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About the author

Shannon Stacey

131 books2,631 followers
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her favorite activities are writing romance and really random tweets when she’s not riding her ATV. She loves mud, books, football & watching way too much TV.

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Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,597 followers
November 6, 2015
“It’s customary to offer a squeeze to determine if breasts are real or not, you know. Don’t you watch TV?”

She laughed and shoved the retrieved ballcap back on her head. “Nice try, Kowalski. You’ll have to take my word for it.”
Exclusively Yours is the first book in the Kowalski Family series, and wow! Just… WOW! It’s one of my absolute favorite Contemporary Romances that I’ve read, and I loved every single word, every heartbreaking, heartwarming, funny, sexy minute of it! I laughed, I cried and I stayed up until almost 3AM to finish this story because I simply could not make myself put it down!

About the story - In order to save her job, one she’d spent years working hard to get, Keri Daniels must get an exclusive interview with the famous, reclusive author, Joe Kowalski. While trying to dig up dirt on Joe, her boss learned that Keri and Joe had been more than just friends back in high school - much more - and she’s given Keri a choice: use that connection to get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten Keri, the first girl he’d loved and the first girl to break his heart. When he finds out she’s back in town, he’s intrigued. It’s not just because she’s back, but because for the first time in 18 years of visits to their hometown, she’s looking for him, and he’s sure he knows why. Keri’s boss has been tenacious about getting an interview, so he’s not too surprised that she’d use Keri’s past connection with him to get it. When he meets with Keri over dinner to discuss her proposal, he comes up with a proposal of his own – come with him and his family on their annual two week camping trip and for every day she survives the ordeal adventure, Keri gets to ask him one question. He’s pretty sure she won’t turn him down because she’s worked too hard to get where she is. Keri’s career is everything to her, a fact he knows painfully well because pursuing a career in journalism is the reason she up and left him and small town life, heading to Los Angeles in order to make her dreams a reality.

Well, now she’s home and he’s hoping to get some of his own questions answered, and hey, maybe get her back into his bed while she’s there, too. But if he’s really lucky, this time he can convince her not to leave him again.

My thoughts - I wish I could, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this book! I adored Joe and Keri, both on their own and as a couple. Watching Joe try to seduce Keri, and try to woo her into accepting that there were still feelings between them was so much fun! The emotional and physical chemistry they shared felt so real. Of course there were issues to deal with, namely Joe’s twin sister Terry who hated Keri for having dumped Joe all those years ago. When you have a family as close as the Kowalskis are, you can’t hurt one of them and expect to get off easy. Terry had been there to help pick up the pieces of Joe’s shattered world and wasn’t about to let Keri get close enough to hurt him again. Some of those moments were laugh out loud funny, and others had me wanting to beat Terry over the head, but as we read on we find out that Terry has a lot on her own plate to deal with.

There are actually three relationships happening in this book. Terry and her husband, Evan, have separated and Terry plans to file for divorce as soon as she gets home from this family camping trip. She still loves Evan and has no idea what happened to make him leave, but over the course of the two weeks, she starts to see that maybe she could have done more. Maybe she had driven him away with her constant nagging. Watching her come to realize her own part in their breakup was heartbreaking, but I loved the honesty with which it was written.

The other relationship is between Lisa and Mike Kowalski who are having their own marital difficulties. Again, watching this couple work through their problems honestly and openly was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and at times inspirational! Both of these secondary relationship stories are resolved in this story, and in a way that I found to be totally believable, and again, inspiring.

Instead of rambling on and on I'll share a couple of my favorite quotes from the story:
Joe reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a folded sheet of spiral notebook paper. “Here’s a list of things you’ll need. I jotted it down in the parking lot.”

Keri unfolded the paper and read the list twice, trying to get a sense of what she was in for.

BRING: Bug spray; jeans; T-shirts; several sweatshirts, at least one with a hood; one flannel shirt (mandatory); pajamas (optional); underwear (also optional); bathing suit (preferably skimpy); more bug spray; sneakers; waterproof boots; good socks; sunscreen; two rolls of quarters.

DO NOT BRING: cell phone; Blackberry; laptop; camera, either still or video; alarm clock; voice recorder; any other kind of electronic anything.

She had no clue what it meant, other than Joe wanting her half-naked and unable to text for help.

And this one I can relate to in a big way because it's how I feel when the internet goes down:
Keri had gone twenty-four hours without phone, email, or texting for the first time in as long as she could remember. Probably years. As wired for communication as she usually was, she’d expect to be going through some kind of withdrawal—some shaking, maybe twitching fingers. Phantom texting.

The bottom line – I loved Exclusively Yours. Absolutely adored it! If you’re looking for something light but not stupid, something with a whole cast of characters you wish were your friends and family, then get this book! There is no terrorist plot to take over the planet, no vampires or shifters attacking innocents as they sleep soundly in their beds, but what there is is a an incredible sense of family. Devotion, love, honesty, humor, and enough sexual heat to have you fanning yourself. I was so, so sad when this book ended, but very happy to have the next one on my Kindle, just waiting for me to pay another visit to those awesomely amazing, crazy Kowalskis!

This ARC ebook was provided free of charge by netgalley.com in behalf of Carina Press. This had no influence on my rating or my review.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,703 followers
April 24, 2014
3.5 stars

So the first thing I need to say is that I don't read a lot of contemporary romance.

I read a few Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, and Helen Fielding books when I was in college, and maybe a half dozen sports romances, but it's only been the last 18(ish) months that I've really started reading straight-up romance (and if it's not Kristen Ashley, Julie James, or a handful of others, I don't know much about it).

So know upfront that I'm not any kind of authority.

But I liked this. It had more depth than a lot of the other books in this genre that I've read--it felt more real.

There are a couple of secondary plots within the main plot, and the secondary storylines have to do with other members of the Kowalski clan. Members of the Kowalski clan who are already married.

And that is why I felt the need to clarify that I'm essentially a romance novice. Maybe this happens all the time, and this is just the first time I've come across it, but in all the romances that I've read, two single people are coming together for the first time (or the first time in a LONG time). They aren't already married and having real life marital issues, teetering on the edge of that precipice, on the other side of which is divorce.

I really liked what Stacey did here. We had Joe and Keri finally getting their second chance, and interwoven were the all too believable marital roadblocks that two other related couples were pressed up against. It was honest in a way that is terrifying to anyone who is married, but at the same time it was hopeful.

Books that can make me feel hopeful are my favorite kind of books.

And I'm not talking a desperate, "I will never go hungry again," determination that masquerades as hope, I'm talking that pleasant lightness that fills your chest with the belief in a brighter future (that thing with feathers *winks*).

Depending on your perspective, that may or may not be realistic.

I don't care. I like it.

That being said, there's not anything particularly original about what's going on with the main couple--high school sweethearts getting a second chance at love, but still having to overcome a standard set of problems . . . There's only so many times that story can be told. However, I wasn't bored, and it was an excellent feel-good read, so if that's what you're in the mood for, I say go for it. If you like it, there are plenty more Kowalskis to keep you happy and entertained after you finish this one.
Profile Image for Ruth.
592 reviews61 followers
June 22, 2011
This one was OK, but, for me, it wasn't up to the same standard as the other books by this author. I guess most of my reasons for not liking it much are down to me really, but I had a number of issues with it.

- The hero and heroine dated in high school (OK, they spent most of their time in each others' pants). It was the best sex of the heroine's life. So far, so good. Then we're told she's always carried a torch for him, and he's the same about her. Hmm. Why? I ask. Why would two nearly 40-somethings still be obsessed about something that happened 20 years ago? I can hardly remember the names of my boyfriends in high school, and I honestly don't think I'm heartless or abnormal. Can anyone actually remember much more than the names, and one or two embarrassing memories, 20 years down the road? From the way they lust over each other, and the way he still has angry feelings about her leaving, you'd think it had been only 2 not 20 years ago. I would have preferred for them to come together having actually lived a bit of life first, rather than getting the impression that neither of them ever got over the best sex of their lives, which just seems a tad depressing to me, and an awful waste of 20 years.

- The super-bitchy sister - I couldn't really understand what the purpose of Terry in the story was, other than to throw a wet blanket over everything. Including her in the story just made the whole thing much less enjoyable a read than it should have been, and I couldn't muster on iota of sympathy for her or the way her marriage had fallen apart. And again, what was with the sister not forgiving and forgetting something that happened so long ago?

- I honestly thought the hero pulling the camping-trip-from-hell routine on the heroine as emotional blackmail was pretty much as cheap as it could get. He practically implied that she'd have to sleep with him, and put up with his family, and do loads of outdoorsy shit she'd probably hate, to stand a chance at keeping her job. I also struggled with his descent into drink after the heroine dumped him in high school. It's really sad, and it does happen, but, honestly, it's not romance hero material to me, and no matter how sexy he was, or how wealthy, he struck me as just as emotionally immature at 40 than at 20, and carrying a whole load of personal and personality issues with it. I just couldn't like him.

- OK, now the number 1 reason I really couldn't get into this story was, and don't laugh, that I have a real aversion to communal organized activities. I hate the idea of not being allowed to make up my own mind and make my own choices, so the idea of everyone HAVING to do all the activities on vacation as a group makes me shiver. It probably didn't help that I was actually spent spring break this year at an apartment building where 20 families were doing just this - kids spent the day trying to drown my 5-yr-old, and the parents spent the day, and evening, getting completely shitfaced on the beach. But look at this another way.. Take exercise classes, for example. The last time I actually went to an exercise class was about 10 years ago, and I lasted all of 15 mins of "move faster!", "follow me!", and, my favorite, "now let's really go for it!" before I walked out. I don't like being told what to do, or shouted at, or given no choice, like I'm an idiot and can't make up my own mind. So, just thinking about a camping trip (and, BTW, I LOVE camping, so it's not an anti-camping thing going on) with the family of any of my exes (or even my own beloved family, or my husband's slightly less beloved one) just makes me grind my teeth. And I just couldn't wipe out that tense-shoulder, out-of-control hopeless feeling I got when I considered the heroine's situation. I know I'm bonkers, but there you go.

Now, having said that, I do really like the way this author writes. It's light, flowing, and she writes some fabulously funny lines, and I also really want to know what happens to the other brothers, so I'll read on and hope I don't have any hang-ups like this one.

Profile Image for ♡Karlyn P♡.
605 reviews1,209 followers
July 12, 2010
4.5 stars. In short, it’s a fun laugh-out-loud steamy contemporary romance set in the backwoods of New Hampshire (complete with mosquitoes, ATVs, bath houses, and marshmallow roasts.) This is an author to watch as her humor is sharp, the sexual tension tight, the romance believable, and the characters all well developed.

The premise: High school sweethearts Joe and Keri went separate ways when Keri chose to move out west to attend Berkeley and make a name for herself. It was the toughest decision she has made in her life. 18 years later, Keri is now a top contributing author to a popular celebrity magazine out in Los Angeles, and Joe is a NYT bestselling author of scary twisted novels that are being turned into movies. Keri’s boss discovers that she had a past with Joe, and sets her up to get an exclusive scoop by sending her back to NH where Joe still calls home. Joe never forgot how badly Keri broke his heart, but the moment he sees her again he knows he doesn’t want to say goodbye again – at least not right away. So he cooks up a plan to have Keri go on a large family camping vacation with him for two weeks in exchange for one interview question per day.

What I enjoyed most about this book was how ‘real’ the story felt. The dialog, the pacing, the interaction between characters all felt so genuine. Plus the humor and whit was just a crack up!! Joe is a fantastic hero, and Keri was a great match.

While the main story between Joe and Keri kept me fully engaged and entertained, I’m knocking half a star off because I really didn’t enjoy the secondary storyline that much. It’s about Joe’s sister Terry resolving her marriage issues after 13 years of marriage. If I met Terry in real life I don’t think I’d want to be her friend, but I will give this author kudo’s for making her so three dimensional with flaws and all. Fortunately, that storyline is very small in this book and can be skimmed over easily.

My husband and I love to go camping every summer, so it was a great treat to see a romance set around fire pits and RV’s, instead of mansions and penthouses. The author has another book coming out in the fall, and I sure hope it stars Joe’s brother Kevin. I loved that guy and hopes he gets an HEA too. Definitely an author to watch.
Profile Image for Anzû.
548 reviews1,108 followers
May 7, 2012
I started reading this as an accident of fate. Yes you read it well! Me and my friend Aly decided we should do a “group” (or whatever you wanna call it) read. We picked a couple of books, numbered ‘em and then used an online random number chooser thing to pick what to read. This was the result. It was actually a nice experiment. Worked for my friend, didn’t work for me.

This review will be a bad one. I hated the book; I won’t be nice so in case you’re into this type of books you should probably stop reading now. If you want my opinion on this, keep on reading.

So we have the dude. He’s a writer and, in my personal opinion, a big loser. He’s still living with his family, hiding stuff from his mum, taking sh*t from his brothers and so on. He is a big fancy writer so I was expecting him to f*ck off everyone and live a depressed solitary life. But I guess that’s just me…

The chick is a total idiot. Typical case of stuck-up, successful (to a point) city woman paying nature a visit. She acts all blonde, says stupid things (heh! She kinda reminds me of the Legally Blonde chick – did I mention I hate Legally Blonde??) and fears raccoons like one would fear a crazed crocodile. Yep, I shite you not!

Now the whole feeling of the book is one big fat huge damn telenovela (did I mention I also hate telenovelas???). I duno who did duno what to duno who and he did duno what back to her. Highschool drama and broken friendships (that got fixed too easy – if I’m not wrong… did it actually get fixed? I don’t even remember). Too many kids (God I hate kids…) doing stupid stuff. Guys acting like machos and failing at it. B-O-R-I-N-G and annoying!

I tried to like this book! I really did but it had too much sh*t for me to handle.

Keri seems like a bad person (she’s even annoying during sex). I get that people break up when they’re young (and when they’re old so I guess that makes it all the time) but at least I’d expect her to show a bit of feelings. She’s talking about leaving Joe like she gave up some shoes she didn’t like anymore. She goes back to her hometown and meets the guy who’s gonna end up the love of her life and does what? Gets all hot n sweaty ‘cuz he looks good and remembers how perfect they were together and then talks about leaving so easily. So this shows lack of feeling and shows what a bad person she is. I can’t get to like her and I don’t like reading books where i can’t even like the main characters.

I respect Joe fighting for what he wants or what he thinks is his but I can’t respect him for being an idiot. Yes he is an idiot. That’s the key word when it comes to Joe Whatever-the-hell-his-name-is. Get over damn higschool you’re a f*cking successful writer you can do better than that! Oh and speaking of the Mighty Joe, why does the author have to mention his erection every five pages? He’s horny, we get it already!!! Let it go!!!

Aaand of course shell betray his trust, aaand of course we’ll have two more chapters of drama followed by tears and flying dishes, and in the end they kiss and make up and move to the city where Joe lives. They have kids and live happily ever after. I insist on mentioning that in 69% through the book when I’m writing this.

Aaand in the end the story ended up like I said it will. I will be honest (and not harsh) and give it one star. Why? First of all I didn’t like any characters. And I mean it. Joe was an idiot, Keri was annoying, Terry was stupid and the rest of the characters irrelevant. Two, the story was nonsense. Too predictable, boring and mediocre. Three, lack of emotions between the main characters. Yes she wrote about them hanging out, making love and whatever the hell they were doing but i didn’t feel any spark between them. I didn’t feel any connection forming between them, didn’t have any reaction when they were in trouble or when they had the typical sentimental moments at the end. Four, the cover sucks. Sorry, I love a good cover so it has a part in my rating, however small this may be. Five, no epic quotes. I’m a quote monster so it matters to me.

So that’s it. Harsh probably, but it was not my thing. I will avoid this series and probably the author as well.

Top 5 quotes (yes, I still did one - ZOMG)

#5 “Why did you kiss me?” she asked suddenly, her gaze like an interrogator’s spotlight on his face.
“Glitch in the space-time continuum, I guess. Old habits die hard and all that.” Chickenshit.

#4 “Dan. Take a breath.”
“Oh, I’m taking so many breaths I’m hyperventilating. I need to put a fucking bag over my mouth. Or maybe put a bag over your head because your brains are leaking out.”

#3 “That’s right.” Keri frowned at him. “How do you remember that? You were behind us in school.”
“Her yearbook photos, especially the cheerleading candids. Sometimes I’d—” he paused, obviously remembering Steph’s presence, “—have them nearby while checking myself for ticks.”

#2 "She likes me better because she doesn’t have to wash my underwear. Plus I’m better lookin’.”
Mike laughed. “You keep telling yourself that while I’m getting laid out in the woods, my friend.”
“You just like it out there because the mosquito bites make your dick look bigger.”

#1 “If you’re looking for sympathy, it’s between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.”

Read the review on ZombieHazard.
Profile Image for Ridley.
359 reviews322 followers
June 21, 2010
One of the debut releases from the brand new epublisher Carina Press, Exclusively Yours is a contemporary romance set in the exotic, mosquito-infested wilds of New Hampshire, where the ATVs roam free and the riders all work at giving love a second chance.

Keri Daniels ends up in this mess when her boss, the editor-in-chief of an LA-based celebrity magazine, gets a hold of a compromising photo from Keri’s past. In the photo, she’s cuddling with her high school sweetheart, Joe. Of course high school sweetheart Joe is now blockbuster reclusive author Joe Kowalski, someone her boss has been obssessed with interviewing for years, and she’s a bit put out that Keri’s not mentioned this connection before. So she lays down the law - go to New Hampshire and get an exclusive interview, or kiss your job good bye. Not at all keen to lose everything she’s worked for, everything she left New Hampshire for in the first place, she reluctantly heads home to try to talk to Joe.

High school may have been 18 years ago, but Joe never really got over Keri leaving him and going to California. He spent the four years after high school as a drunk, writing angry horror fiction where a Carrie Danielson meets a horrific end, before sobering up and trying to move on like a big boy. But his failed engagement with a socialite, and the sealed emotional distress lawsuit with said socialite, has just brought Keri back into his life. To weak to refuse her outright, he agrees to an interview - but only answering one question a day, and only if she accompanies him on the Kowalski family camping and ATV trip - figuring the polished city girl will turn him down.

Keri takes him up on the deal, naturally, and what ensues is a hilarious clash of personalities, wants and needs between the hero and heroine and the entire cast of characters. Stacey truly outdid herself on the characterization in this book. Each character had its own personality, quirks and motivations. The dialog was so pitch-perfect that I’d swear I actually knew some of these people. I was busting a gut laughing at how the brothers spoke to each other, as they were pretty much just like my own family.
After Lisa walked away, Joe grinned at his brother, “Piece of cake.”
“Never works for me.”
“That’s because you’re her husband. She likes me better because she doesn’t have to wash my underwear. Plus I’m better looking.”
Mike laughed. “You keep telling yourself that while I’m getting laid out in the woods, my friend.”
“You just like it out there because the mosquito bites make your dick look bigger.”

All of the family plays a role in the romance plot. No, they’re not an army of cutesy matchmakers. In fact, Joe’s twin sister Terry is desperately trying to keep Joe and Keri apart.
”Don’t the RVs have bathrooms?” she asked, feeling some pressure to fill the conversational pothole.
Both women laughed, but it was Lisa who said, “I’ll take your lifeguard duty at the pool for three days if you can  have sex with a Kowalski man in that shower without knocking the camper right off its levellers.”
“I’ll hide your bug spray if you even try to have sex with my brother in the RV - or anywhere else for that matter,” Terry said, and the way Lisa gasped make Keri think it was a dire threat indeed. “Go ahead, Keri, laugh at me. But once the sun starts going down you’d duct tape your own thighs closed for a bottle of Deep Woods OFF!. Trust me.”

The family exists to further illustrate the second chances and conflicting wants and needs themes. Terry and her husband Evan are separated because he thinks they’re growing apart. Mike and Lisa are at odds over her wanting a baby, despite the fact they’d planned to celebrate the youngest of their four boys (good lord shoot me, four boys) reaching school age. And the main event, Keri and Joe, are fighting an obvious persistent attraction because of decisions they made at 18.

So, everyone is trying to reconcile what they want with what they need. Will Keri choose Joe or her career? Would Joe move away from his family to be with Keri? Did Keri make the right decision when she left so many years ago?

The characters all work out the kinks and settle their issues by the end of the book in organic, understandable ways. These were all familiar problems so their solutions were familiar as well. I could identify with everyone in this book, really. (To be fair, I’m a fellow New Englander to Ms. Stacey, so that might be a factor in the familiarity, or it may not. You tell me.)

My one issue with  the book was with Keri’s character arc. Keri had what I thought was a powerful reason for dedicating herself to her career:
Keri’s mom. Ed’s wife. Mrs. Daniels. Her dad called her hon and Keri called her mom. She never heard anyone call her Janie...And maybe that’s why, as they were filling into the gymnasium to “Pomp and Circumstance,” she’d been horrified to overhear a woman whisper, “That’s the valedictorian’s girlfriend.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Her companion had responded. “I’d heard Ed’s daughter was Joe’s girl now.”
...Ed’s daughter. The Daniels girl. Doll (her father’s pet name for her) and Peach (her mother’s.) Joe’s girl. Babe.
Keri is determined to make the name “Keri Daniels” mean something to people, and I found her final decisions completely counter to that part of her, and needlessly so. Such a deflating resolution kept this from being a five-star read. Otherwise, this is the best straight contemporary romance I've read in eons. I truly cannot remember laughing so hard at a book while enjoying it as much as I did with Exclusively Yours.
Profile Image for ✰♊ Angie ♊✰.
327 reviews147 followers
September 23, 2018
I don't typically gravitate toward second chance romances.
I don't like to read the Ross and Rachel "we were on a break" kind of drama.


But, in this case I was really drawn to the blurb and thought I'd give it a go.
Glad I did.


Way better! I loved it! I liked that we also got a peek into other Kowalski family drama. It definitely helped to break up the MCs story line a bit. The writing was great with an easy flow and I couldn't put the book down.
Profile Image for Dee.
1,477 reviews157 followers
April 22, 2016
Re-read April 2016. My opinion abouthis hasn't much changed but still have some others in series that not read so gonna bite the bullet and give series another go.

Originally read - November 2011
I had seen more than a few raving reviews from friends on GR about this story and had high hopes and was really looking forward to reading it. Although I enjoyed the story I can't quite see what all the fuss was about!

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the story but I just didn't feel the connection between Joe & Keri. I don't believe they actually loved each other - ok maybe I believed Joe a bit more than Keri. I am always saying that I like quite a bit of steam with my romances and I certainly didn't get it here which normally I will forgive if the story is really good and I believe in the connection between the H/h. I didn't feel any sizzling between them and the only real time there was any sex scenes it was a case of wham bam thank you ma'am and that was it - Joe was even quoted to say that Keri didn't like a lot of foreplay, she got a kiss here a kiss there and then he went straight for the target and that was the end of that!!

I felt more of a connection between Terry and her husband Evan....I would have liked to see a lot more of them instead. I also enjoyed reading about Mike & Lisa and again would have been happier to see a little more into their marriage. I think that really says it all for me when I admit that I would rather read about the secondary characters rather then the H/h.

I deliberated really hard when trying to decide what rating to give this book. Although I thought the romance was a huge disappointment I still liked Ms Stacy's style of writing. It was good, whitty and funny enough to have me laughing several times especially when they were playing volleyball and Joe's father ended up grabbing Keri's butt :)BUT I read this book for the romance and for me it just wasn't there.

I will go on to read the other 2 in the series because I already have them and as I said the writing is good I have to remember not to expect too much on the romance side.
Profile Image for Tink Magoo is bad at reviews.
1,248 reviews193 followers
May 9, 2021
Everything just worked really well for me right from the start on this one.

The writing was engaging, the whole family dynamic worked really well, you got just enough of everyone that it made you want their stories too, it was never over the top in silliness - there was just enough, the build up for Joe and Keri didn't drag on too long and reading about their relationship before and how it ended was really bittersweet.

Joe gave me the worlds biggest emotional boner, honestly that man!

The way they all interacted with each other, the support they showed - it made me wish I had a big family just like theirs.

"If you're looking for sympathy, it's between shit and syphilis in the dictionary"

Safety Gang
Profile Image for Jaci Burton.
Author 172 books8,048 followers
July 1, 2010
With full disclosure, Shannon is a good friend of mine. That being said, this book was wonderfully written. A great contemporary romance that held me spellbound. I couldn't put it down. It was fun, with tons of humor, incredible secondary characters I grew to love, and a fantastic romance between the hero and heroine. Shannon writes characters you root for, characters who aren't perfect, a compelling story, and her voice simply captures you. It wouldn't matter if we were friends or not, I'd still sing her praises. I can't wait for the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Shawna.
3,510 reviews4,567 followers
November 2, 2010
4 stars – Contemporary Romance

The Kowalski family is a kooky, fun bunch who take camping and ATVing to the extreme while also dealing with realistic marital struggles, kid stress, and a blast from the past. This is a fun, light contemporary romance that had me seriously cracking up at times. I just wish there had been a bit more romance between Joe and Keri and that the heat level had been turned up a few degrees.
Profile Image for Melissa.
604 reviews60 followers
October 4, 2010
I really enjoyed this story! It's been a long while since a book has grabbed my attention and I didn't want to put it down.

Keri and Joe were high-school sweethearts. Keri needing something bigger in life left her home town and Joe for California to become a writer for a magazine.

Fast forward 18 years, Keri's boss demand she gets the inside scoop on Joe or lose her job.

I really fell for Joe, he was sweet and lovable.

The secondary characters were a nice addition. I'm looking forward to Kevin's story in Undeniably Yours, to be released November 1st!

This is my first read by Shannon Stacey and will not be my last. Great writing style, nice witty, fun and lovable characters.

Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,723 reviews672 followers
September 21, 2010
Joseph Kowalski and Keri Daniels were high school sweethearts but Keri left Joe broken hearted in order to chase her dreams. Now 18 years later, he’s a reclusive best-selling author and she’s a reporter for an entertainment magazine whose editor has just discovered her past relationship with Joe and demands she get the scoop on the guy. If she refuses she’ll risk losing her job and any chance of moving up a rung or two on the ladder. Keri’s worked hard to get to where she is and leaves behind sunny California to travel to the small New Hampshire town where she lost her virginity to a boy named Joe in the back of a 78 Ford Granada to the sounds of Whitesnake.

Said boy, now all grown and super sexy, talks her into joining him and his large extended family (he is single, without kids) on a two week vacation camping in the deep woods of New Hampshire without cell phones (no texting for help!), computers, or luxury bathrooms. Keri is appalled, especially when she learns she’ll be sharing a cabin with still hot Joe, but agrees for the sake of her career. The premise is too, too cute. Living in New Hampshire and coming of age in the 80’s (to the dulcet sounds of Whitesnake, Poison and Ratt -- remember them?) this book really resonated with me on a nostalgic level. The author got the feel of NH camping down pat and reminded me of all the reasons why I haven’t done it in a decade or so. Joe is a fabulously warm and lovable hero with a realistically messed up family who you’ll probably love and despise in equal measure. This book is as much a reunion romance as it is a tear-inducing family drama-edy. Keri and her unending quest to be someone other than a “mom”, “girlfriend” or a “wife” is where things fell flat for me. Personally, I can’t connect with a woman so hung up on her career that she’d leave her true love in the dust. But that’s just me, I married my high school sweetheart and we’ve been together since ’87 so I’m lucky and probably pretty biased.

Despite Keri, and her obsession with being “Keri, an important someone” I enjoyed this book a lot. When Joe and Keri reunite the sparks fly and they’re both forced to face their past mistakes and figure out a way to get along without losing their hearts all over again. Joe was devastated and made some poor choices when Keri left him the first time and all that heartache, angst and pain must be dealt with before they can move on. It’ll all bring a tear to your eyes, I swear it. The plot isn’t anything terribly exciting but it felt very real and honest and I will definitely check out what this author is up to next.
Profile Image for Sibel Gandy.
948 reviews55 followers
May 26, 2020
Bu tarz yeni kitap yokluğundan 2.kez okunuyor hep bunlar 😑
Profile Image for Borislava Petrova.
64 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2017
Много обичам такива истории. Много приятно четиво. От онези, които се четат по много пъти и не омръзват. Все едно съм си вкъщи.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews847 followers
September 18, 2015
4 ½ stars. Boy, did I like this.

One of my favorite tropes is a guy who really desires her and pursues her. That is here. It felt good. He cares for her. He does things nice for her. He orders food that he remembers she liked. He does not cause pain. When his sister was mean and covered Keri in mud. Joe covered his sister in mud - as payback.

Another couple is separated and in pain. I liked Keri’s advice to the woman. She said tell me the 5 most common things you say to your daughter. Now tell me the 5 most common things you say to your husband. Wow. That was illuminating.

Some of my Goodreads friends did not like this - mentioning shallow characters and the vindictive Terri. Those things did not bother me. So it’s a personal preference thing. A couple reviewers did not like the audiobook. I wonder if the narrator made it less.

One odd thing that might have influenced me to like this so much - is that I read it right after reading another book that had the same plot. But in that book the guy did not pursue her or act like he liked her. This book was so opposite it was a treat. The other book is “Laura’s Big Break” by Janet Elizabeth Henderson.

There are nine books in the Kowalski Family series. This is book 1. I previously read books 6 and 9 and gave them 3 stars. The author wasn’t using good ideas to move the plots. But after reading this book, I think I may try a few more of her earlier books.

Narrative mode: 3rd person. Kindle count length: 3,967 (322 pages). Swearing language: strong including religious swear words but rarely used. Sexual language: mild. Number of sex scenes: 2, plus 2 referred to with no details. Setting: current day New Hampshire. Copyright: 2010. Genre: contemporary romance.
Profile Image for Addie H.
492 reviews235 followers
August 14, 2018

This book made me feel nothing. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. I didn't like it. I didn't dislike it.

Too many characters, too many story lines,not enough happening.

Not enough romance.

Too dark, too silly.

I gained nothing from it. Which is just sad.

Ok, so I have one emotion.

1.5-2 stars.
Profile Image for Dina.
1,324 reviews1,207 followers
November 6, 2015
- Joe
- Keri
- Joe and Keri, Keri and Joe :)
- Kevin (Joe's youngest brother)
- The Kowalski kids, especially adorable 6-year-old paparazzi-in-the-making Bobby

On the fence:
- Mike (Joe's younger brother) and his wife Lisa
- Too many side stories, taking away the attention from Joe and Keri

- Terry (Joe's bitchy twin sister) and her estranged husband Evan
Profile Image for Al George.
502 reviews309 followers
February 8, 2016
Grown ups are awesome.

Yep. This is a romance about adults. Funny adults but adults nonetheless. And this is a book about families, relationships, history, challenges and some awesome dialogue.

More to come :)
Profile Image for Riverina Romantics.
429 reviews29 followers
October 29, 2011
Exclusively Yours is a masterpiece of contemporary perfection.

Yep, I’m still giddy with excitement over reading my first Shannon Stacey book and I literally have heart palpitations thinking about reading the second book in the series – Yes, it was that good.

Was there suspense? No. Was the story action packed? No. Was there paranormal shifters or sexy vampires?? Well, its contemporary – so obviously not. But what it did have was witty dialogue, a HUGE dose of sweetly simmering sexual tension that made my knees weak and a cast of characters that had realistic issues I could relate to.

To me Exclusively Yours is perfectly sculpted. I was never bored, I didn’t even contemplate skim reading and I couldn’t put it down for the life of me. I lurved it to BITS!!

Keri was a realistic heroine. She wasn’t the perfect, prissy, sexy, model like heroine – she was a true woman. She had flaws, doubts and made mistakes. She was also capable of giving the bird to someone who pissed her off. And I loved her.

Joe was the same, no flare, no exaggerated perfected sexiness – just a real man, who was hot as hell to me not only on the outside but on the inside too. And although he was a successful author and made of money it was never a real factor in the book.

I loved how Shannon Stacey wrote a TRUE romance without all the bells and whistles of glitz and glamour. The story concentrated on emotion. The heat between the characters, the way they couldn’t keep their eyes off each other, the soft touches, sweet caresses. It gave me butterflies and had me continuously smiling.

I could go on and on about this book but I won’t. However, I will encourage you to read it for yourself and to come back and let me know what you thought.

I have no hesitation recommending this to anyone who loves a sweet, sexy, funny contemporary romance.

Merged review:

Exclusively Yours is a masterpiece of contemporary perfection.

Yep, I’m still giddy with excitement over reading my first Shannon Stacey book and I literally have heart palpitations thinking about reading the second book in the series – Yes, it was that good.

Was there suspense? No. Was the story action packed? No. Was there paranormal shifters or sexy vampires?? Well, its contemporary – so obviously not. But what it did have was witty dialogue, a HUGE dose of sweetly simmering sexual tension that made my knees weak and a cast of characters that had realistic issues I could relate to.

To me Exclusively Yours is perfectly sculpted. I was never bored, I didn’t even contemplate skim reading and I couldn’t put it down for the life of me. I lurved it to BITS!!

Keri was a realistic heroine. She wasn’t the perfect, prissy, sexy, model like heroine – she was a true woman. She had flaws, doubts and made mistakes. She was also capable of giving the bird to someone who pissed her off. And I loved her.

Joe was the same, no flare, no exaggerated perfected sexiness – just a real man, who was hot as hell to me not only on the outside but on the inside too. And although he was a successful author and made of money it was never a real factor in the book.

I loved how Shannon Stacey wrote a TRUE romance without all the bells and whistles of glitz and glamour. The story concentrated on emotion. The heat between the characters, the way they couldn’t keep their eyes off each other, the soft touches, sweet caresses. It gave me butterflies and had me continuously smiling.

I could go on and on about this book but I won’t. However, I will encourage you to read it for yourself and to come back and let me know what you thought.

I have no hesitation recommending this to anyone who loves a sweet, sexy, funny contemporary romance.
Profile Image for Carrie.
1,660 reviews70 followers
December 4, 2013
I listened to this book in the car on a trip. The characters made me so angry I was yelling at the iPod adapter! Thank goodness I was alone. ;-) In short, except for Joe, I thought most of the characters were shallow, immature, vindictive, pushy, and stuck in middle school. Keri sort of redeemed herself in the end, but then again, the fact that she was so adamant about not being "somebody's" girl/wife/mother that her turn around didn't ring true to me. I just wanted to know why Joe fell for her, not once but twice. And I couldn't stop thinking that if she'd been less shallow and insecure, they wouldn't have missed 20 years.

Terri was awful, and I had trouble believing her turnaround, too. In short, this novel had more negatives than positives for me. The only things saving it were the author writes well and has a knack for good dialog. So, given that, and the fact that she did make me laugh a few times, I'll give it 3*, but it's just squeaking by for me. More like 2,5* Don't know if I'll try this author again.

Edited to add:
Overall I felt like I was listening to someone narrate a romantic comedy movie. All the elements were there: an overbearing boss, a heroine who is shallow at first, a city girl stuck in the woods dealing with bugs and no hair dryer, vindictive person out to make life miserable for said city girl (parent trap, anyone?), big sometimes dysfunctional family, unruly children, lack of honest communication, a few slap-stick humor moments, and the HEA. It was about that predictable and about that deep emotionally.
Profile Image for ❀angela.
126 reviews88 followers
December 3, 2012
What's so wrong about leaving your hometown to pursue your dream?! If Keri gave up her ambitions to stay with her high school sweetheart, she would've spent her life asking herself "what if?" and blaming Joe for her regrets. Also, how can you still be in love with your high school sweetheart twenty years later??
Profile Image for Toni.
17 reviews3 followers
September 8, 2014

One star, only because you can’t give a minus five star rating.

I nearly gave my husband a heart attack when I finished reading this book. It was late in the evening when I got to the end and I was so disgusted with the story and its ending that I threw the book aiming for the bin in our room but missed. I rarely throw books in disgust, but this one just really pissed me off.

Never read anything before by the author, but that doesn’t matter because I usually buy the book for the plot, so when I read the usual blurb at the back cover, I thought I’d like this book. Love stories about old lovers reuniting always appealed to me. I was also quite intrigued to find out what Keri did to Joe that broke his heart terribly.

I was expecting something major, ie she cheated on him, her disapproving snobbish parents made her break up with him, some deep dark secret from her past surfaced so she had to break it off -- you know, something dramatic. But no... Instead, there’s the heroine at age 17 or 18, deciding after her high school graduation that she didn’t want to be referred to only as the “valedictorian’s girlfriend”. No, she wants her own career, not be defined by the guy she was dating (or being married to) and seek a life outside their small town. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why this book implied that these aspirations were such a bad thing!

For a while, I thought I was reading a book set in some Third World country where women are only seen as incubators to produce children, or a romance set in Regency England or other historical setting where women were expected to marry, because there weren’t much choices for them. But no, this is a contemporary romance novel set in the United States of America! You would think a hero born and raised in the USA, home to inspiring real women in politics, sports, sciences and the arts, not to mention Disney cartoon heroines like Belle, Jasmine, Merida all wanting life beyond their “provincial town” or lives beyond their suffocating station, could be more accommodating about having a girlfriend having aspirations/ambitions of her own. No sireee... How dare she left him, driving him to alcoholism! But hey, she at least inspires him to write horror stories with heroines (based on her) whom he gleefully (sadistically?) send towards gruesome predicaments! (What a wonderful psychotic Neanderthal romance hero!)

Ok, I get it, perhaps Keri could have done the breaking up better or maybe she could have had a heart to heart talk with Joe so he wouldn’t have felt like he was given an unexpected strong punch. However, do you think she would have had the chance to say anything to him and that he would listen? For all the flashbacks the author provided about this couple, the reader is only exposed to their horny feelings and escapades, or for that matter, the hero wishing that he had impregnated her during one moment of unprotected sex. For two people with aspirations of wanting to be writers in their teen years, you are never really given an insight into other aspects of their relationship.

Unfortunately, fast forward 20 years later and it’s still pretty much the same. For most of the book, apart from being subjected to painful scenes in the camp grounds, there were no moments of deeper conversation between these two. You would think that given they are both writers they could have been capable to have meaningful conversations, but nope. Even Keri’s questions seemed so juvenile for a 20-year journalist veteran and the supposed novelist talked and thought like someone who never left his teen years.

Also, you would think that given what had happened in the past, Joe would try to get to know better the girl who left him and “broke his heart”, try to understand better her aspirations, her own writing and get a better insight on why she left. But no, he couldn’t seem to get past all the physical aspects of their past relationship, sexual innuendos or her physical attributes. Neither could he shake this almost obsessive desire to live physically close to his family. There he was, a successful author, with no job-related reasons to stay in his hometown as his status gives him the flexibility to work anywhere, neither does he have any real serious obligatory family-related reasons to stay, ie his parents are of good health, he doesn’t have his own kids with an ex, and yet, he can’t make himself move to LA to be with the woman whom he considers to be the ONE?!

(The last character I’ve ever seen with such an unnatural attachment to her family and their house was Pat of Silverbush from LM Montgomery’s (ie writer of Anne of Green Gables) novel. But that female character lived in the late 1890s to 1900s in a small remote idyllic country town in Canada and the book was written in the early 1900s!)

The supposed HEA wasn’t really a happy/satisfying for me. [Sorry for the spoilers but I have to include them to present my honest review.] The heroine lost her job because she couldn’t betray the hero’s trust, gave up her career and went back to her hometown to be with the hero. She was promised editing work, not to mention freelance job from the hero’s company (who happens to also employ his sister as his PA, his brother as his accountant... guess there is a reason why he doesn’t want to leave his family since they do a lot for him). Overall, she became what she wanted to avoid in the first place – an appendage to her high school sweetheart. The annoying thing was that it wasn’t really necessary for Keri to give it all up as the hero finally came to his senses and was willing to move to LA with her. But nope, the author decided it should be her who has to give up EVERYTHING, not Joe who only had to move away from his family (but still be able to visit them regularly as he is well-to-do-enough to afford airfares or access to phones, email or Skype).

Some may argue that Keri’s career wasn’t going anywhere anyway. I don’t know. I am kind of suspicious as to why given all that time, she didn’t bother looking for a position elsewhere or even tried to become a freelancer. Even if she wanted to be an entertainment writer, not all of them are the type who writes for cheap gossip tabloid publications like the publication she worked for. Some go for more “respectable” magazines (eg Vanity Fair) which more or less end up like PR vehicles for stars and other “VIPs”. I also question why she only wanted to be an entertainment journalist, when she could be still be a journalist writing stories or profiles of different persons of interest, not just people in the entertainment industry.

I suppose this is what really annoyed me most about this book. I can’t help but feel a negative vibe in this book projected against women who want a career, a sense of individuality and/ or explore life outside their comfort zone. I can’t help but wonder if the author deliberately chose a “not-so-respectable” career for Keri to ensure readers would dislike her even more for following the path she had taken. (Given all the negative reaction of reviewers I've read here for Keri, I’d say the author has been very successful indeed!)

I mean think about it. What if Keri became a respectable investigative journalist exposing social and political issues, a human rights lawyer, a novelist in her own right or even a doctor working for Doctors without Borders? I wonder how readers would have reacted then and I greatly wonder how much they'll still think of how "wonderful" the hero is. Instead the author chose a profession for the heroine that would seem to guarantee readers would dislike her for what she's done, even though regardless of what profession she chose, she had every right to choose and follow through.

It is not only the career the author chose for the heroine, but also the way the author contrasted Keri’s life with the Kowalski wives. Even if she had thrown in some of the domestic problems these wives were facing, at the end of the day, she made everything alright for them, while Keri was left being the lone spinster still fired from her job despite all the effort she placed into it for the past 20 years. While there were other options for her to rebuild her career after being fired, the author decided to give her an HEA that involved her going back to where she started from and marrying her ex-flame who hasn’t shown any real signs that he respects and acknowledges her individuality and own aspirations.

Other stuff I hated about this book: (1) not much of a big fan of camping, particularly one which seems to involve destroying more the landscape and frightening wilderness creatures with ATVs; (2) characters like Theresa, the hero’s twin sister who acts more like a sour puss brat rather than an adult.

Definitely would not recommend this book to anyone and after my experience with this book, I’m not sure I would like to read another book by this author again.
Profile Image for Alayna.
130 reviews28 followers
May 27, 2020

“İnsanlar bazen kırılmamak için sevdiklerini üzerler. Aşk ikinci bir şans vermek demektir.”

Genellikle aile serilerini severim. Bella Andre, Marie Force ve özellikle Lisa Kleypas bu tarzda okumayı sevdiğim yazarlar.
Bu kitap da öyle. Çok uzun süredir kitaplığımda bekliyordu okuyayım dedim ancak basım tarihinin 2014 olduğunu görünce bir miktar üzüldüm. Zira Kowalski serisinin diğer kitaplarını, özellikle Terry ve Kevin’ı deli gibi okumak istiyorum. Ancak bunca sene sonra serinin devamını basmak gibi bir güzellik yapmaz yayınevi.
Küçük Bir Aşk Hikayesi’nin arka kapağını okuduğumda hafif Katy Regnery’nün Kül ve Ateş’i tarzında bir kitap beklemiştim ancak öyle olmadı. Romantik komedi olan bu kitapta arka kapaktan beklediğim dramı alamadım. Ancak çoğu kısımda kahkahalar attığımı da itiraf edeyim.
Keri ve Joe lise dönemlerinde sevgililer ve Keri lise sonda yaşadıkları kasabayı terk ediyor. Joe ise hayatının aşkı olarak kabuk ettiği Keri’yi bir an olsun unutamıyor hatta çektiği acıdan dolayı terapiler alıyor. Yirmi sene sonra ise Keri’nin terfi için kayda değer bir ropörtaj yapması gerekiyor ve o ropörtaj da münzevi yazarımız Joe ile ilgili olmak zorunda.
Bu iki karakterin birbirlerine duyduğu özlemi her ne kadar sevsem de bir şeyler sürekli havada kaldı. İlişkilerindeki o aşkı vs hissedemedim.
Keri, bencil bir kadın karakterdi. Joe ise Keri’ye deliler gibi aşıktı. Ve gerçekten bir an olsun vazgeçmedi. Keri’nin kasabadan ayrılışı vs çok saçma geldi. Sürekli bir “kariyer odaklıyım” havası vardı ancak o da içi boş bir sebepti. Kitabın sonu sırf Joe yüzünden iyi bitti. Keri sonunda cevap verseydi her şeyin 💩’a batacağına eminim. Serinin diğer kitaplarına elbette bir şans vereceğim. Umarım bu kitaptaki gibi kopukluklar, yüzeysellikler olmaz. Hoş vakit geçirilebilir ancak kendi kulvarında “eh işte”nin üstüne çıkamaz.
Profile Image for Samantha.
987 reviews2 followers
June 8, 2010
More like a 3.5 stars. Exclusively Yours is a funny, light and contemporary read that will leave readers wanting a little bit more.

Lately I’ve been reading new books by new authors (or at least they are new to me) and while I’m always a bit reluctant and leery, I have to say that I’ve been finding some really good books. Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey was another good read. High School sweethearts Joe Kowalski and Keri Daniels were wildly in teenage love, planning a future until Keri bolted without any warning from their town to establish a career and new life as a journalist. Her boss uncovers that Keri has had a relationship with Joe, a reclusive and bestselling author, and she wants an interview. Receiving an ultimatum of reporting about Joe and his recent love scandal or losing her job, Keri is forced back into the life of the one man she had loved and hurt the most.

Once Joe discovers that Keri is back in his hometown trying to get a story about his life, he plots to get reacquainted with his former love by bribing her into spending a two week vacation with his family. In return, they both get to ask each other a question each day. Normally, I don’t fall for the Beta heroes but Joe was amusing, sweet and it was so obvious from the start that he was still in love with Keri. The author made several references to his pain from Keri’s initial leave throughout the story and how he ended up as a famous author.

There was a cast of secondary characters. The whole Kowalskis were in full attendance at the campsite and I loved every minute of their banter and all of the siblings had their own issues. Though I am not into bitchy female characters at all, I had to say that I liked Terry (Joe’s sister) a lot. She was the type to say it like it is and she had a whole lot of drama. Not only did Keri bail out on Joe, but Terry and Keri were once BFFs and Terry carried the pain of her best friend leaving her. There was some laugh out loud moments with the fights between Keri and Terry. I felt the emotions from Terry. She was like a child who didn’t want to lose her friend or have problems with her husband. Though she was catty at times, I understood where her place of anger stemmed from.

My only quarrel with this story was the abrupt way that the storylines ended. Granted, the book was relatively short but the issues could have been tied up better. Terry and Keri’s relationship was never settled in my opinion. They eventually began to talk at the campsite but they only discussed Terry’s marital issues. There was no discussion of their fall out or an apology. I find it hard to believe after holding so much anger inside, that Terry would just let go of her anger towards Keri. I’m sorry but if my best friend ditched me, I would want to say, “You had hurt me a lot when you stopped being my friend.” A conversation about the past should have occurred. The storyline with Joe and Keri’s past seemed to not be that prevalent in the conversations between Joe and Keri. For Joe to have the freedom to ask Keri any question he wanted, he sure did waste them. I do understand that he was trying to convince her to stay more than rehash the past but I need more of a resolution when reading a reconnecting love story.

Overall, I still enjoyed the story and I would definitely read another book by this author. I am kind of hoping that the younger brother gets a shot at love as well.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
December 5, 2011
4.5 stars

I've seen this book for so long now and even though I don't read much adult contemporary, something about this book always made me so curious. I guess my gut-reaction was spot on, cause I really ended up just loving Exclusively Yours!

Keri Daniels works for spotlight magazine when her boss gives her a choice between getting the dirt on Joe Kowalski - a famous private author and Keri's high school ex-boyfriend- or loss everything she's worked her entire life to achieve.
But Keri hasn't seen him in almost twenty years and she's the one who broke his heart. How can she face him, but then again her work is her life...
When Joe Kowalski heard that Keri was back in town he was torn between paybacks and curiosity. But being the chickenshit he knows he is and won't flat out deny her the interview decides to offer Keri a little deal. Go away with him and his entire Kowalski clan for two weeks in exchange for an interview-question she gets to ask once a day and one question he gets to ask her in return.
He didn't actually think she'd say yes...

This is the stuff that make me want to read more adult contemporary. I've always, always been a sucker for second chance books and this one was just sigh-worthy! It was exactly what I need to smile. Joe and Keri have a steamy history but after almost twenty years the flame is still there. They have such a natural and fun easy way of being around each other. You'd think that after all this time apart it would feel intense and uncomfortable with a lot of bad feelings and resentment but it wasn't like that. It was refreshing to see grown up people work around grown up feelings without having it be mean and vindictive. Something both Keri and Joe handled quite well.
But they're not the only reason I feel in love with this book. I also feel in love with the entire Kowalski family. The husbands, the wives and all the kids. Yes, this is a story about second chances but it's also a story about marriage and making your relationships work. It doesn't all become sunshine and daises after you say 'I do', you have to work for happily ever after every day of your marriage...something the Kowalski siblings will learn in this book.
I also thought Terry and Keri's comical paybacks were pretty funny stuff as well. Terry is a complicated character and one I didn't think I'd like, but I found her story to be just as intriguing.
I also loved the setting. Camping by the fire, kids playing in the pool, making smores, getting all muddy and playing dirty scrabble.
Shannon Stacey paints a great picture with incredible writing.

All in all, I kinda just love this one. It has just about everything I look for in a read. Romance, humor and great family togetherness. It's fun, sexy and amusing but it was also seriously sweet and made me feel good all over.

Definitely need to pick up a copy for my collection! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to read the next book in the series:Undeniably Yours;)

(Copy provided by Netgalley and Harlequin)
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
March 25, 2013
The thought of a family vacation with extended family members would put fear into the hearts of many people I know, even those blessed with loving families. Don't get me wrong - these vacations can be a lot of fun. But consider the outsider invited into this chaos: 4 unruly boys nicknamed "Mass Weapons of Destruction," a despondent teenage girl, adult siblings - married, separated, and divorced, and the grandparents. Add in one reclusive and a bestseller list author, and the results are very entertaining.

Keri Daniels is the unsuspecting guest at this family camping retreat. Keri is a reporter at the gossip magazine Spotlight and her editor has charged her with coming up with some dirt on the very private Joe Kowalski. When her editor learns that Keri and Joe were once lovers, she pushes Keri to get that interview. Keri reluctantly agrees because she wants that promotion.

Getting Joe to agree to an interview is not easy. Joe is curious about "the one that got away" and agrees to meet Keri. He then decides to go ahead with an interview provided that she follows his instructions and comes along on his family vacation. Keri is not allowed any electronics - no cell phone, cameras, recording equipment. She is also allowed one question a day, provided that she participate in the family activities.

I think that what I loved most about this book was that right away I felt like part of this family. I loved the interactions between the family members: the bargaining for time alone for haggard parents Lisa and Joe, Kevin's playfulness, Theresa's sadness and pain about her marriage, and Joe's generosity. Mike and Lisa's rambunctious boys also provided some sticky moments and comic relief. I loved Joe's parents, too. This is a loving family that plays, laughs, cries, and gets muddy together. They aren't perfect - they seem real.

Keri and Joe were wonderful together. It amazed me that an 18 year separation did not affect their feelings for each other. Their relationship built up slowly through the novel and I loved watching them get to know each other again. I may never look at an ATV the same way again. These two are hot!

This was my first Shannon Stacey novel and it definitely won't be my last. I can't wait to read the next book in the series - it's Kevin's story.

Kindle free download 1/19/13. Also free on Carina Press 1/21/13. *No longer free.
Profile Image for Lisa Kay.
924 reviews516 followers
October 24, 2011
★★★★½ Short, sweet, with a touch of spice, and just the right fit for my brooding-moody self after another disappointing read. I'm not a big fan of "second chance at love" - with the same person. I figure, when it is over, it's over. In fact, I chose this one to fullfill a "National Pet Peeve Week" requirement in an October Challenge. But, this was well done and the Kowlaski family is down-to-earth fun.
Profile Image for Jae.
694 reviews164 followers
June 19, 2011
I so cannot dig this story.

I didn't like Keri for being a career-orientated woman through and through, first when she was 18 and even now 18 years later.
And I didn't like Joe any better either for not learning any lesson at all regarding Keri. You'd have thought he'd be a bit guarded this time around too.

I had a very hard time finishing this off.
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