Cross posted at http://donttalkjustread.blogspot.com
Sean Kowalski, cousin to Joe and Kevin of books 1 and 2, has just gotten out of the army. He's at loose ends, and so decides to hang with his cousins for a while. Emma Shaw is a friend of the family. She has somehow managed to manufacture Sean as her fake fiancé - including photoshopped pictures of them together (yes, a little creepy, even) - in order to appease her grandmother, who now lives in Florida and is worried about Emma being alone/lonely. They meet when Emma knocks on Sean's door, and rather embarrassed, tells him that he is her fake fiancé. I loved that meeting, and afterward, Sean describes Emma as "tall, hot, and batshit crazy."
First off, thanks to Shannon Stacey for a sneak peek at this one. The cover gods have surely smiled mightily upon her with this series. All 3 covers so far have been beautiful, conveying the fun, flirty, and sweet contemporary style of the books. (And the scruff - did you see the scruff on his face? *swoons*)
This book was simply feel-good. I can't think of a thing I didn't enjoy – including the sly shout out to Stacey's Devlin Group series. Sean moves in with Emma and her grandmother for a month, as the pretend fiancé. During that time, they live together, work together, and learn about one another all while trying to fool Cat into believing that they've been together for a year and a half (a lie she fully figures out within about a half hour, LOL). I loved Sean's habit of leaving sticky notes for Emma with little messages. I loved that Emma can't cook worth a damn. I love that she's a strong woman, a business owner in a physical business, and that she just wants to make her grandmother more comfortable about her situation.
I also really, really enjoyed the secondary romance between Cat and Russell, Emma's grandmother and her long-time friend. What a sweet little treat that was.
As always, the interactions of the Kowalski family brought a smile to my face, and though they easily could, they didn't overwhelm or overtake the focus on Emma and Sean. The Kowalski cousins are all in on a pool for how long Sean and Emma can go without sleeping together, and as always, beneath the good-natured (and sometimes cut-throat) ribbing you can feel the love within this family.
Near the end, I got the little clutch in my gut and around my heart that tells me I'm hurting along with the characters. I've talked about that clutch a few other times, most notably when reading Linda Winfree's books. It tells me I'm fully emotionally invested in the story, and that I truly care what happens to the people I'm reading about.
I really like Stacey's voice. She has a perfect blend of irreverence, humor, and sweetness to her books that always makes me want to keep reading.
Yours to Keep releases in e June 6 from Carina Press. I highly recommend it!