Title: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey
Kowalski Family, Book Five
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 70,000 words
Book Rating: B+
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
A second shot at first love
After college, Ryan Kowalski decided to leave Whitford, Maine, rather than watch Lauren Carpenter marry another man. Now his siblings need his help to refurbish the family-owned Northern Star Lodge and he’s forced to face the past sooner rather than later when he collars a vandal–and learns the boy is Lauren’s son…
The last person Lauren needs back in her life is Ryan Kowalski. With a bitter ex-husband and a moody teenage son, she has enough man trouble already. But her son needs to learn a few lessons about right and wrong, even if Lauren has to escort him to Ryan’s door every day to work off his crime.
With all this close contact, Ryan and Lauren can’t deny the chemistry between them is as powerful as ever. But can a few searing kisses erase their past and pave the way for a second chance at true love?
All He Ever Desired is another delightfully heartwarming yet super sexy installment in Shannon Stacey’s fabulous Kowalski Family series. It is Ryan Kowalski’s turn to find love when he returns to Whitford to help with renovations on the family’s lodge.
As a teenager, Ryan had a secret crush on Lauren but she was in love with Ryan’s best friend, Dean. Lauren and Dean married young, had a baby, and have been divorced for several years now. With an uncomfortable secret between them, Ryan has successfully avoided Lauren on his rare visits home over the years. But on this latest extended visit, Ryan and Lauren find their paths crossing on a regular basis. Unable to resist their simmering passion, they are soon burning up the sheets together. While their relationship manages to survive interfering relatives, Lauren’s belligerent ex, and her sometimes sullen son Nick it is Ryan’s return to Massachusetts that threatens their future.
I really like both Ryan and Lauren, as individuals and as a couple. Long since married and divorced, Ryan is a hardworking man who has built a successful construction business in Ridgeline. Although his siblings sometimes drive him crazy, Ryan is fiercely loyal to them and they are a close knit family.
Lauren is a strong woman who definitely knows her own mind. She is a wonderful mother who is actively involved in Nick’s life. She is tough but fair with him and she holds him accountable for his actions. Lauren’s relationship with ex-husband Dean is sometimes contentious as she tries to keep the peace between them for Nick’s sake. But she is no pushover where Dean is concerned and I love that she speaks her mind when she needs to.
In the beginning, the relationship between Lauren and Ryan is based on a mutual attraction. The sex scenes between them are playful yet sensual. Love gradually sneaks up on them and while Lauren is ready to figure out the next step, Ryan is at first reluctant to take her concerns seriously. This leads to a minor conflict late in the story, but mercifully, the angst is kept to a minimum. Their problems are realistic and I like how they work together to find viable solutions for their issues.
Mitch and Paige’s wedding brings the whole Kowalski clan together and it is so much fun to revisit past characters from previous novels. There is an interesting pairing between sister Liz and one of her brother’s friends and I am VERY curious to see what direction their relationship is going to go. Younger brother Josh is still chomping at the bit to get out of the family business and stretch his wings, but will he discover that his future is waiting for him in Whitford? Equally fascinating is the evolution of the relationship between mother/housekeeper Rose Davis and Andy Miller.
As always, I absolutely love the time spent with the Kowalskis. They are a fun loving yet devoted family and they are always quick to step in and lend emotional support when needed. Their interactions are often quite funny yet also incredibly touching.
Shannon Stacey does a wonderful job keeping the series fresh with unique storylines and charming characters that readers can easily relate to. And as always, she leaves her readers eagerly awaiting the next book in the Kowalski Family series.
Read my reviews of other books in the series HERE.