Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey

All He Ever Dreamed 
By Shannon Stacey
Book #6 in the Kowalski Family series 

Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.

As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.

Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?

Josh Kowalski never intended to run the family lodge and stay in Whitford, Maine. Circumstances just ended up with him being the last one left. The lodge has been in the family for four generations and to sell it means giving up their memories and the last place all of his siblings could call home. He wants the opportunity to choose his destiny and wants to leave and see a world he’s only heard about through his three brothers and sister’s exploits.

Meanwhile, Rose, the housekeeper for the lodge and the woman who helped raise him and his siblings when his mother died, is trying her best to bring him and her daughter, Katie, together after years of them being best friends. Katie’s been just one of the guys but everyone in town has always known that she’s been in love with Josh forever.

I was looking forward to Josh’s story since everyone else got the chance to pursue their dreams and he inherited the running of the lodge by default. And, I liked the idea of a romance between two best friends. Katie is independent and open to Josh’s tendency to keep things in and not ask for help. Their rapport was easy and natural, even when things shifted to the romance. The moment when Josh first sees Katie as a woman was hilarious, along with the nosy and buttinsky family and friends who help things along. However, his struggle with the choice of leaving everything behind him, including Katie, or sticking with the lodge was a real one, bringing a serious aspect to the story.

I enjoyed this book but felt Katie and Josh’s romance lacked a certain spark. Maybe it was because the transition from best friends to lovers was a little bit too easy or Josh’s career decision was always overshadowing it. Whatever the reason, I thought they deserved something more. Katie always seemed to be an afterthought, which wasn’t Josh’s nature or hers.

Still, their story was enjoyable, one involving two working class people dealing with everyday issues that complicate lives. The ending was perfect, even if it was just a little predictable. I love this series and am looking forward to the next installment, which I hope is Liz’s, the lone sister of the bunch.

(I received an ARC from NetGalley)


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