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Monday, March 11, 2013

All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

I am apparently really good at reading books out of order. I started Fool's Gold in the middle. I started Lucky Harbor in the middle. And now I've started The Kowalskis on book 5, All He Ever Desired . Sadly, my library doesn't have the others so unless they show up at the thrift store I won't get to read the others.

Picking up in book 5, Ryan Kowalski has returned home to help his brothers renovate the failing family inn.  He's trying hard to avoid Lauren, who he was in love with in high school, but it is a small town. Lauren, who has a teenage son and a divorce (from Ryan's ex-best friend) behind her, has often had thoughts of "what if?" but plans to never ever Go There.  So of course they run into each other, and of course they Go There.

Lauren struggles to do the right thing with her son, who is basically a good kid but is having problems with his dad's new family. Money is realistically tight, and when he gets in a little trouble at the inn, he has to work off the debt to Ryan's family. I appreciated that they didn't just buy him out of trouble, even as I saw it as a device to force Ryan and Laura together.  Money is treated realistically, even though Laura and Ryan have vastly different amounts of it. Ryan is never a snob about it and Laura never thinks she won't want her because she has none. This doesn't mean that they don't have problems. For one, once the inn is done, Ryan will return home to Boston, eight hours away. Laura's ex lives in the same small town, and they share custody so moving out of town seems impossible. Laura doesn't want more children, and Ryan always thought he would have kids one day.  They have to work out  a way around all of these things, none of which ever feel like they are quite the obstacle they should be.

While I did find this one satisfying, I didn't find it completely original. Perhaps I've read too many small town extended romance series and need to go find some single titles, but now, weeks after reading it, I struggle to remember the details. Family inn has been done to death at this point, I think. I've also read several books lately with one half of the couple returning home to their small town and their old crush, who is now divorced with a child. (This one, Back to the Good Fortune Diner, Wild for the Sheriff.) You could argue that this part is my fault as they are all three NetGalley requests, but I would argue that, like renovating a family inn, it's a recent theme.

Overall, nice and easy, satisfying, but not memorable. I would read the others if they are available, but I won't seek them out.

You can find Shannon Stacey online here and on Twitter.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review.

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