Wednesday, January 30, 2013

All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

Why I read it:  All He Ever Dreamed just came out (I bought it straight away) and I realised I hadn't got to this one yet. I do like to read in order, y'all.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  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?

What worked for me (and what didn't): I love the Kowalskis.  From the very first line in the book I was kicking myself for taking so long to read it.
Because hectic Monday mornings didn’t suck enough all on their own merits, Lauren Carpenter managed to miss her lashes and apply mascara straight to her eyeball.
I knew it was going to be good.  Then, a couple of pages later, Ryan arrives on scene:
Ryan Kowalski made very few mistakes when it came to running his business, but trapping himself in a pickup with an idiot definitely counted as one.
I love how Shannon Stacey writes normal people who muck up their mascara (something familiar to me).  She writes guys who are guys.  I know guys like this (I married a guy like this!). 
He watched a rerun of Bonanza while he ate, because that was what was on and he couldn’t reach the remote.
And brothers who fight and give each other shit. 
When Ryan reached his truck, Josh refused to get out of the driver’s seat and instead cracked the window enough so he could talk, but not enough so Ryan could reach in and choke him.
But stick up for one another. Always. 
“Tell her I’m fine.”
“Yeah, but you’re not.”
“And none of us have ever fibbed to Rosie. Sure.”
Josh sat up straighter in his chair. “It’s not all about Rosie. I’m your brother, stupid, and you’re hurting. I care and I’m going to sit here until I think of something to say that might help, goddammit.”
After about five minutes, Ryan looked over at him. “Anything yet?”
They went back to staring down the driveway.
 Josh is hilarious.
“Jesus, no wonder Rosie bakes so much. This support shit is hard.”
She writes funny and normal people (well, except for the drop dead gorgeous part!) who have real life problems and they solve them by talking to each other (sometimes this may take a while). 
"...She said it was only going to be friends and family and, as long as there are a couple of spots to have pictures taken, she doesn’t care.”
She’d care. When the day came and there were sawhorses and power tools in the yard, she’d care. Ryan had been married once—he knew that a lot of women started out focusing on the love and family and friends, but as the big day drew near, they lost their freaking minds.
I like the fun flirty sexy tone which is combined with some deeper issues so they are not fluffy (sometimes I like fluffy quite a bit, that's not a dig) but they aren't super heavy either. 
“You don’t have to try so hard, you know. I’m already naked.”
“I noticed. I like that about you.”
Ryan had a thing for Lauren years ago but I liked the way that even he acknowledges that what was then was over.  His attraction to her isn't based merely on some past nostalgia.  Rather, she just pushes all his buttons (in a good way)  and being around her reminds him how special she is.   Lauren, for her part, didn't think of Ryan that way at all, right up until he asked her to leave her husband and run away with him.  After she said no, Ryan became a fantasy lover who occupied her thoughts but it wasn't based in any kind of reality.   So, when they meet up again, they have to find out who the other person is now.  And find out if there is more than just hormones kicking in.

I liked when Ryan and Lauren had an argument Lauren didn't let him get the last word in.  I liked that she stood up for herself (even though in the fight both of them were being a bit silly - both of them had valid points too and, after some cool-down time, they talk it out.)
“Lady, I ain’t a boomerang. You throw me away again, I’m not coming back.”
“You call me lady in that tone again, it’s your balls that won’t be coming back.”
The resolution felt right, the relationship between Nick and Ryan felt comfortable and not at all forced.  I do wonder if Ryan will ever want children of his own one day - something Lauren is not interested in at all.  Now he says that the only dealbreaker is Lauren herself.  Will he change his mind?  He's thought about it and they're going into things with their eyes open but I wonder - possibly I'm projecting here, I acknowledge.

It was only after I closed the book and thought about it a little that I came to the conclusion that Ryan and Lauren weren't actually together for very long and maybe that section of the book could have been longer.  In hindsight, there was a lot of them getting together and then they were together and suddenly we're at the end.  I wouldn't have minded some more of the relationship before the big decisions were made.  But mainly that's because I was enjoying the heck out of the book.

I love this series. Kowalksis for the win.

(Other) Favourite Quote: 
“A woman should never have to choose between sex and cake.”

Words to live by.

Grade:  B+

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