Series: The Kowalskis

Review: Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey

Posted August 14, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Review: Falling for Max by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Holly
Falling for Max: Book Nine of The Kowalskis by Shannon Stacey
Series: The Kowalskis #9
Also in this series: Taken with You: Book Eight of The Kowalskis
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: August 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, General
Pages: 196
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he's starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he's always been a little awkward when it comes to socialinteractions, and working from home doesn't help. He spends so much time alone,painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.
Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she's intrigued. When she finds out he's in the market for a wife, she's fascinated…and determined to help.
Molding Max into every woman's dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori's plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she'll have to find a way to show just how she's fallen for him…the real him.

Max is the town recluse. Once a week he hosts a gathering at his house so the guys in town can watch sports without their wives complaining,  but otherwise he doesn’t get out much. When he decides it’s time to find a wife, at the suggestion of a friend, he makes an effort to go into town more to look for one. Tori waits on him at the local diner and takes him under her wing when he strikes out with a random woman. She offers to help him become dateable. She doesn’t want to change him, just help him learn to navigate the dating field.

They quickly become friends. Which would be great, if there wasn’t an underlying attraction between them. It isn’t long before they both want more than just platonic friendship. While Max is looking for forever,  Tori wants nothing to do with marriage. Her parents’ bitter divorce after 25 years of – seemingly – solid marriage has soured her on ever trying it herself.  After all, if her parents can go from polite and kind to angry and venomous overnight, what’s to say she couldn’t as well?

I really liked Tori. She’s not afraid to speak her mind. Her sense of humor is quirky and aligned perfectly with Max’s. Aside from her hang-ups about marriage, she was grounded and focused. She was settled and not afraid to work hard. Her fear of ending up like her parents was a genuine, real thing. It was easy to see why she struggled considering the way they acted and how she was constantly put in the middle. The foundation if her life was rocked when they decided to divorce,  but it was the way they acted and the hateful things they said that caused the deepest cracks.

Max is socially awkward and doesn’t navigate society well.  His job in model train restoration doesn’t help since he spends the majority of his time in his basement. Tori pushes him out of his comfort zone, but she doesn’t try to change him. She thinks he’s perfect as is, she just wants him to get out and live a little.  She really understood Max. His quirks didn’t bother her, in fact she found them endearing.

I love Max. He’s shy, sweet, mildly OCD and unlike any hero I’ve read before him. I wouldn’t exactly call him beta, but he’s definitely quirky and, yes, adorable. He felt comfortable with Tori right away, which was strange for him as it usually takes him a long time to warm up to someone. He felt protective of her, and found himself thinking about her all the time. It was great how they instantly connected and fell into each other’s lives.

The town and Kowalski clan provide a good back drop for the story. Max has made friends in town, even if he doesn’t realize it. Tori has a strong place in the community and a deep friendship with Hailey, the local librarian. The interactions outside their relationship really immersed me in the story. It was like I was there, living the story with them.

I am really sad to see the end of the Kowalskis. These novels have provided hours of entertainment, fun and drama. It’s kind of like saying goodbye to old friends.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

Review: Taken with You by Shannon Stacey

Posted May 23, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Taken with You by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Holly
Taken with You: Book Eight of The Kowalskis by Shannon Stacey
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: April 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, General
Pages: 197
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she's happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She's spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn't found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she's probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.
Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett's idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety—a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can't resist pushing her buttons, even though she's made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn't for her.
Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she's determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that's easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he's renting the house right next door….
74,000 words

Hailey is a girly-girl who wants a sophisticated, business professional type as a mate. She’s been dating men from the city who like to go to the symphony and wear suits to work. When she and a friend decide to do an “outdoor singles” thing and end up lost, she has to ask herself “what in the world was I thinking?”.  When a scruffy, kind of smelly guy comes to their rescue when they get lost, it’s just another reminder that Hailey is looking for love in the wrong place. Until she sees Mr. Scruffy all cleaned up. Turns out her erstwhile rescuer isn’t too bad all cleaned up. Matt is the new game warden in town and her new neighbor. If only he wasn’t so into the outdoors..and dirt.

Matt was burned once already by a woman who was more embarrassed by him than anything else. Which is too bad, since Hailey is every sexy-librarian fantasy he’s ever had. But he went down that road once already and he has no desire to go there again. Except she really seems to love his dog, and she’s easy to talk to. And they have chemistry. Like, off the charts chemistry. Matt wants to believe Hailey is different than his ex, but he can’t see how a girly-girl is the woman for him.

Matt and Hailey were opposites who learned to compromise to be together. In the beginning both had their doubts about a relationship. Matt figured Hailey was too rigid for him and Hailey figured Matt was too much the mountain man. Hailey was the first to give in and realize there was more to Matt than a scruffy face and muddy boots. It took Matt a big longer – and boy was that fun – but he couldn’t deny how wonderful Hailey turned out to be. Their friendship was well developed and made the segue into lovers easier to believe.

The town and its inhabitants made a nice backdrop for the story. It was good to see both Mike and Hailey with friends and interests outside each other.

This is the type of fun, fresh, flirty story I’ve come to expect from this series. Stacey has made the Kowalski’s and all their friends feel like family. I can’t wait for the next installment.

4.25 out of 5

 

This book is available from Carina Press. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars