All He Ever Dreamed (Kowalski Family, #6) by Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski Family #6
Also in this series: Undeniably Yours (Kowalski Family, #2)
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: January 21st 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.
As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.
Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?
I’ve been anxiously awaiting this story. Josh and Katie have been best friends for years. If Katie feels a little more than friendship toward Josh, well, that’s her secret to keep. Except the entire town seems to have noticed. Everyone, that is, but Josh. Until she’s forced to move in with him to help care for her mom – the housekeeper of Josh’s B&B – who has been really sick. Then he comes upon her in her pajamas and realizes she’s not just one of the guys. She’s all woman.
He struggles with how to react now that he’s seeing his best friend in a new light. As much as he wants to act on his attraction to her, he knows he shouldn’t. Because for the first time in his life he has the opportunity to leave home and discover himself. Katie is happy staying where she is. She feels no need to roam. So despite her feelings for Josh, she knows nothing can develop between them. Too bad their hearts don’t understand that…
Josh is understandably resentful that his family left him to run the lodge without asking if that was what he wanted to do. As a young man he had dreams of traveling, having a family, building a house, etc. All of those went out the window when his dad died and his siblings left him in charge of the lodge. In the previous book, he finally fessed up to his family that he was unhappy stuck at the lodge and they agreed to work it out with him. They agreed to consider either selling, or getting back on their feet financially so they could hire a manager.Josh is glad to finally have gotten it off his chest, but he can’t help but feel like nothing has changed. He’s still stuck at the lodge taking care of things while his siblings aren’t around. He knows that isn’t really fair, since there isn’t a lot anyone can do at that moment since their financial situation isn’t the best. That doesn’t change how he feels, though.
It was good that Josh’s feelings didn’t automatically change once he had the talk with his family. He tried not to feel sorry for himself or be angry all the time, but it was hard. I felt that was very realistic. His anger was justified and so was his resentment. I also understood his conflicted feelings about the lodge. He loved it at the same time he hated it. It stood for his family and was home, but it was also an albatross hanging around his neck.
I really loved Katie in this story. She’s a girl-next-door type. She loves sports and rarely puts on anything besides jeans and t-shirts, but she’s still a woman. When Josh finds her in her boxers in the kitchen, I totally cracked up. That was the first time he noticed she was a woman and not just his best friend. Her feelings for Josh were just as conflicted as his were for the lodge. She loved him and wanted to be with him, but more, she wanted him to be happy. She understood he was going to leave town as soon as he was able and she didn’t want to hold him back. Sure, part of her wanted him to stick around, but she knew that wasn’t going to happen. I liked her independence and practicality.
I didn’t love their romance as much as I expected to. The bulk of the book centered more around Josh’s feelings for the lodge and his conflicted feelings about his situation than their romance. At the end, I wasn’t as invested in them as I expected to me. I also felt Josh’s actions at the end were…not as well put together as they should have been. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say I wanted more from him to explain the way it ended.
Still and all, this was a solid read. I’ve come to expect light, witty stories from Stacey and she delivered again.
4 out of 5