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
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 1st 2014
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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