Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey

Why I read it: I'm a fan of Shannon Stacey's Kowalski series.  I think she writes really good, fun, sexy contemporaries.  I picked this one up at NetGalley in the Editor's Choice Vol 1 edition.  I'm not sure if/when I'll get to the other stories - the main reason for my interest was this novella.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Anna Frazier is used to living life at 100 mph, but being downsized out of a job in the financial industry has her permanently stalled. With nowhere to go, go, go, Anna hails a cab to her grandparents' neglected New Hampshire camp to plan her next move. It seems like a good idea—until she realizes there's no takeout to be had and the boy next door has grown into a sexy but surly recluse.

Cameron Mayfield knows he can kiss his peace and quiet goodbye when Hurricane Anna blows in. She was loud and bossy as a ten-year-old—and besides developing some attractive curves, she hasn't changed. Cam's not looking for a relationship, especially not with a woman like Anna. He nearly broke down on that road once before. So why can't he stop thinking about her?

It's not long before their sizzling attraction leads to smoking-hot kisses. But as the days get shorter, Anna must decide if she's found a new road to happiness, or just taken a detour.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  I'm a hero-centric reader and I think Shannon Stacey writes excellent contemporary heroes.  They're realistic.  They talk and act like men - they hate shopping and dithering over which plants to buy (flowers are flowers after all)  or which particular shade of white to paint a window trim.  They're also funny and sexy and good guys.  Cam has withdrawn from the rat race after seeing it kill his father.  It cost him his marriage but he's found peace at Askaskwi Lake and he's not going back to that "gotta-get-ahead-no-matter-what" world.  

Anna is all fast paced, making lists and being busy and Cam has to teach her to relax and take a break.  She'll probably never be as good as it as he is but she does appreciate the absence of gastric discomfort that being away from her high stress job brings.  However, she's also worked very hard to get where she is and she doesn't want to just walk away from a career she's put so much effort into and in which, as it happens, she excels.  For all that Anna is a high maintenance lady (just as well Cam is a handyman - ha, geddit! :D), she is not a bitch.  She's capable and smart and busy but she's also kind and a bit lonely.  

Cam and Anna's initial reaction to each other is a bit oil/water and it is NOT helped by the fact that she is a Yankees fan and he's Boston Red Sox all the way.  (It's a bit like the Crows and the Power here - random AFL reference - I gather).  Regardless of Cam's baseball allegiance, there's plenty about him she can appreciate:
...while she was, in fact, watching a shirtless Cam Mayfield swing a hammer. And what a view it was, all tanned flesh and rippling muscles. She should probably feel guilty about using his body as her entertainment, but she didn’t have cable.
I enjoyed the banter between the two.  It felt real and adult while at the same time being funny and sexy and showing the genuine open affection between them.
Cam stared blankly at the menu in his hand, his mind on everything but the food choices. He’d kissed her. In the paint section of a home-improvement warehouse, no less. Classy. 
“I’m having a cheeseburger,” Anna said. “With fries smothered in vinegar and salt.”
 “I told you I wouldn’t kiss you again. You don’t have to poison your mouth.”
“Very funny. What are you having?"
“Something with onions and garlic."
And, there's this:

He wasn’t a cuddler or a spooner, preferring to sleep on his opposite side...
At last! From a vox pop of my friends and family, this is actually pretty common outside romance novels (it certainly is in my house) so it was nice to see a romance hero who likes his own space in the bed.

The couple reach a reasonable compromise in the end, which I believe will satisfy both of their needs without either having to give up what is essential to them.  I loved that.

I could happily have read a full length story featuring these two and I did feel that the end was somewhat rushed.  I also thought Anna's reaction to Cam's confession of love was a bit odd - almost like she didn't hear him when he said "I love you Anna".    But these are small niggles in an otherwise delightful fun and sexy book.  I recommend. :)

What else?  I learned that "camp" is a New England term for a holiday cabin used mainly either for snow or in the summer - what we Australians call a "shack".  See, you really do learn stuff from romance novels! :)  Now, if someone would tell me what "steak tips" are....

Grade: B+

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