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Shannon Stacey – All He Ever Needed

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The One you don’t need to drop anything for – except the building you’ve been contracted to demolish, of course.

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Pages: 177
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-1-426-89433-6
First Published: 10th September 2012
Date Reviewed: 20th June 2013
Rating: 5/5

With his brother running the family’s lodge and his home town, Whitford, being rife with gossip, Mitch prefers to stay away, making full use of the travel his demolition business requires. His meetings with women are strictly no-strings and he’s spent time with many of the women in Whitford, leaving before any attachment can form. Now back to help broken-legged Josh, the arrangement with new-girl Paige is the same as any other. Paige has a business too, and no intention of leaving her adoptive town, but that won’t necessarily make it easier to leave once the couple realise they’ve more than just sexual chemistry.

All He Ever Needed is the first book to deal with the boys in Maine, and the fourth book in the Kowalski series overall. The family aspect is different to the other three, given the lack of children and the fact the siblings don’t live near each other, but this is made up for somewhat by the sheer number of secondary characters that form the backdrop of Whitford. The character development is fantastic, each person in the lives of Mitch and Paige is detailed well enough that the reader can feel as though they live in the town themselves.

This is not a story of giving up what you like in order to be with another, indeed the no-strings arrangement itself is to save Mitch and Paige from the hassle of working out which elements of their lives to leave by the wayside. Both characters are ambitious in their own right – both have built their own businesses almost from scratch, and whilst there are no plans for any leaps financially, both like what they’ve made. Stacey never suggests that either should give up their dreams, beyond the odd understandable moment of wistfulness, and the reader is likely to be satisfied with the resolution at the end.

The chemistry is fine. The characters may not commend themselves to memory quite as much as, say, Sean and Emma (Sean and Emma having a particularly comic arrangement) but it works, and Stacey makes a strong enough case for their being together. The sex may be the initial reason for the match but there aren’t too many scenes with it included; the overall set-up of the family dominates the book, as is expected by now.

The book lacks the secondary romance that a few of the others have, concentrating on Mitch and Paige and taking the odd glance at other people just to keep the town dynamic. A few premises are created, which the reader will later find were the planning stages for future books.

The only blemish is, perhaps, the way the characters remain steadfast. This may sound the reverse of the above paragraph that lauds ambition, but it is the repetition rather than the fact that is more the issue. For example much of Paige’s decision to swear off men has been influenced by her flighty mother’s numerous going-after-him relationships, but once love enters the equation Paige’s continuing self-imposed rule seems a little redundant as you know what the ultimate conclusion will be. Nevertheless it is a far cry from ruining the book and is but, as said, a blemish.

All He Ever Needed may feel very different to the previous books, but with good reason. The change of setting was necessary for Stacey to introduce these cousins that were often mentioned in the previous trilogy, and the sentiment is still the same. These Kowalskis are certainly a different part of the family, but there is enough similarity to appeal to fans of Joe, Kevin, and Sean.

All He Ever Needed is all you ever wanted in the continuing saga of the Kowalski family.

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Literary Feline

January 14, 2014, 6:14 pm

I haven’t read anything by this author, but this does sound like an interesting book. I am glad the characters are able to continue on towards their dreams–I think that’s the way it should be. :-)


January 26, 2014, 12:55 pm

Literary Feline: There are some duds but this series as a whole is a good one for contemporary romance. There is a swooning, so to say, on the part of the women, but they never let it get in the way of their own lives.



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