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Book Cover C2’s review of Yours to Keep (The Kolwalski Family, Book 3) by Shannon Stacey
Contemporary Romance ebook published by Carina Press 6 Jun 11

Got a hankering for a straight-up contemporary full of heart, humor, and Kowalskis? Shannon Stacey’s latest will definitely fill the bill. And you’ll never look at Post-its the same way again.

Emma Shaw is in a pickle – she made up a fiance so her grandmother wouldn’t worry about her living all alone in a big old house. Now her grandmother is coming back from Florida to New Hampshire for a month-long visit. Oops! Time to find a “real” fiance stat! But not just anyone will do, because her fake fiance is based on a real person. Her best friend’s husband’s cousin…

Sean Kowalski just finished up his time in the Army and is in New Hampshire visiting his aunt, uncle and, cousins while he decides what to do next. The last thing he expects to find knocking on his door is a chick telling him they are engaged…kind of. Best meet-cute ever! Still, Sean is understandably reluctant (and perhaps frightened) to immediately get engaged – even if it isn’t real – but, after listening to Emma’s story and talking to his cousins, he agrees to go along with the big scheme. And the fact that Sean finds Emma smokin’ hot has nothing to do with his decision. Honest!

Unfortunately, Emma’s gram immediately notices they aren’t as easy together as a long-term couple should be. But she doesn’t let on…she just waits and watches. She knows she will figure out what is going on, and why, eventually.

For the month her gram is visiting, Emma and Sean will live together – and share her bedroom (it has a couch and Emma plans to sleep there) – work together (Emma owns a landscaping business) and pretend to be happily in love and on their way to marriage. Since they have supposedly been together for a while, Emma gives Sean some notes about her – kind of a CliffsNotes guide to being her boyfriend.

”You actually come with an owner’s manual?”

Sean makes me giggle. He is unwilling to provide an owner’s manual, though. So as they go along trying to be a convincing couple, anytime Sean thinks of something that Emma needs to know or can’t say something that needs to be said, he writes it on a Post-it and sticks it on the bathroom mirror.

Of course, Sean’s family has to be in on the plan to make it convincing. Now, you know how families are, don’t you, faithful reader? Especially close-knit, silliness-prone families. So what do you think happens when Sean and Emma and Emma’s grandmother attend a family gathering? Kowalski Cook-out of Doom! Newlywed Game of Doom! So much fun! And DOOM!

When too many people know a secret, of course it will come out before it is supposed to. And pretend feelings have a way of becoming all too real. But when a relationship starts with an expiration date, can it keep going? Even after everyone knows the truth?

It would have been easy to make the plot slapstick-y – and it would still have been a fun read, most likely – but Ms. Stacey makes it real. The emotions of the characters are real, the family relationships are real, the fallout after the truth is out there is real (I teared up, I admit). And the happy ending is real…best big gesture ever! And maybe another sniffle from me.

I love the Kowalskis! This book does stand alone, but I always recommend reading the whole series. Exclusively Yours was on my Top Ten of 2010, in case you didn’t know. And I am so glad there are more Kowalski books coming next year – three of them, even! Pardon me while I SQUEE! You don’t want to fall behind, do you, faithful reader? You totally need to read the existing books now.

CSquareds C2 Icon Grade: A


Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.

Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…

Read an excerpt.

Other books in the series:
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