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Shannon Stacey – Exclusively Yours

Book Cover

The past comes back to bite you in the arse, and that doesn’t refer to the sex.

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Pages: 197
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-1-4268-9001-7
First Published: 2010
Date Reviewed: 11th August 2011
Rating: 4.5/5

Keri Daniels is going to get promoted – if she’ll fly back to her childhood home and interview the publicity-shy author who happens to be the man she left twenty years ago for her career. If she doesn’t get this interview she’s fired but if she gets it, well there’s no saying what will happen in the process. After all, she left her ex-boyfriend heartbroken and he’s not going to make it easy for her to get the interview. And he might also make it less easy to leave the second time around.

Exclusively Yours is the first book in the Kowalski series and it is as strong as the later-released Yours To Keep. What I love about this series is the family element. If 50% of the book is about red-hot chemistry, and Stacey truly does write character matches that you can believe in, then the other 50% is about the value of family. So much time does Stacey spend on developing, for example, the children in her books, that you feel just as attached to them as you do the hero and heroine. You can become totally engrossed in the family, and when the romantic couple are getting comfy and in walks a kid with a stream of words about how another is going to give someone a swirly in the toilet, as everyday as it is, you can’t help but smile. For prosperity, here is the afore mentioned quotation:

“Uncle Joe,” Bobby yelled. “Brian got ice cream in his hair and then Danny and Joey said they were going to give him a swirly to wash it out and Brian tried to kick Joey in the pee-pee and-”

For this, the first book in the series, the plot has more scope and falls on its feet slap bang in the middle of a well-used but continually well-loved idea – the return of the one-who-got-away. What’s interesting is that both the major characters have a lot of money and status, albeit that one stays away from the culture of the wealthy, but the book never makes this a focus in the way that so many other romances do. Where often the wealth of a character rules the story, in Exclusively Yours it is merely a factor of the character’s personality.

The chemistry is, as mentioned, red hot, and it is incredibly easy to see why Stacey has sexual encounters occur so often because the book would not be at all realistic without them. The other characters are great, each is a fully developed person of fiction, and the secondary romantic couple fits the story well and compliments the main one. Stacey deals with a good few relationship issues and concludes them well without ever suggesting that her way is the only way or that everyone will have a perfect happy-ever-after.

…he had a trace of what men were allowed to call character lines…

A quick bit of research for anyone not familiar with the culture presented is recommended, because ATVs (quad bikes) and very close family relations are a major part of the series in general, and a word should probably be said about the respect towards parents that has crumbled in our world – because the mother’s word being law for everyone including the adults can take some getting used to. As a Brit I don’t know if the picture in my head would match reality, but the world the Kowalskis inhabit is a far cry from my own estranged society.

Keri smiled back at her, remembering the curling iron and aerosol days. If the EPA had shut down their cheerleading squad back then, global warming might have been a total non-issue today.

The setting is simple, almost the entire book takes place on a campsite where there are few things to do (though this does mean there’s more time for sex) but because of the number of people there is never a time when the narrative becomes boring. Even the characters that don’t have a plot are interesting in themselves and the amount of time devoted to dialogue is large but never questionable. Walking to and from a caravan to a campfire, and repeating many of the same trips in quad bikes, has never been less dull.

Exclusively Yours is a brilliant beginning to what has become a continually strong series and is highly recommended to all, romance fans or otherwise.

I received this book for review from Carina Press.

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September 15, 2011, 1:57 pm

I really loved this series and can’t wait for the next books to come out next year!

Charlie: Yes! I read about them a few days ago and I’m so excited!

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