Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Romance Review: Exclusively, Yours by Shannon Stacey

  • Publication Date: May 26th 2010 (ebook)
  • Pages: 322
  • Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
  • Series: The Kowalskis #1

Well, I have really been genre-hopping this year. I'm finally taking the time to read more than YA and checking out book categories I've wanted to know more about like literary and narrative nonfiction. Now I'm finally jumping into the adult romance genre. 

The romance novel has always fascinated me. I mean they have to be some of the most lucrative and consistently popular genre novels over the past 50 years. Every time I go to a used book sale or used bookstore there is always a woman or two with a rolling basket in hand carefully scanning the Harlequins and stocking up. I've always picked up one or two because I figure they are cheap and not a big commitment, but I just never actually read them. At one point I'd read a few pages into a Regency romance, but couldn't get into it. When I stumbled across this book for .50 cents at a library book sale I got it on a whim, it was about a journalist and a novelist so I figured I could relate. Plus, it was in third person which is my favorite POV.

Exclusively, Yours is the first in a series about the close-knit Kowalski family. Our female protagonist is Keri Daniels, whose job as an entertainment journalist is on the line when her boss discovers she dated bestselling reclusive author, Joseph Kowalski, in high school and never mentioned it. Now she's going back home to New Hampshire to get an interview that could mean the difference between a promotion or unemployment. But Joe Kowalski likes his privacy and their break up was bitter. If he is going to give Keri the interview she needs she will have to spend 2 weeks in the woods on the annual Kowalski family camping trip. It doesn't take Keri and Joe long to realize that even after 20 years, some things never change.

I really liked the family dynamic presented in this novel. Joe has two brothers and a twin sister, so there are more storylines presented than just the will they/won't they one of Joe and Keri. His twin sister, Theresa, was also hurt by Keri when they were in high school so she adds some tension to the story as she has to deal with seeing Keri again. Stacey unraveled each of the relationships and stories well, because seriously everyone in this family having some serious relationship problems. Except for maybe the parents.

This novel also wasn't as romantic as I would have thought. Keri and Joe spend a lot of the novel trying (extremely unsuccessfully) not to like one another and the plot relies more on Belligerent Sexual Tension which is only fueled by the fact they are all stuck in the campground. The fact that this book only really has one main setting also had a tendency made the novel feel a bit claustrophobic at times.

The more I thought about it though, the more I found myself disliking Joseph Kowalski. I mean Joe was set up as  a nice guy who is always getting taken advantage of by these women, but I don’t think he was ever called out on the jerk-ish things he did, like writing a book where a girl named  "Carrie Danielson" who was tortured and killed as kind of revenge on Keri for breaking up with him. Also, most of Joe's siblings are pretty much living off his success and didn't have real jobs. The only Kowalski I was interested in seeing more about was  Kevin, for reasons that are revealed later in the book and I was happy to see the second book, Undeniably, Yours is about him.

Reading this novel felt like joining along on the Kowalski family on summer vacation. As someone who has no desire to go camping, I just enjoyed seeing exactly what people did for two weeks in the woods. I think I've found a romance series I can stick with and I hope it leads me to more discovery of other romances. Now, I can't wait to go to my next used book sale and see if I can spot the other novels in this series!

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