There is something truly wonderful about getting just what you are expecting from a book. Take a little time, slow down, read about some characters who aren’t too far from yourself and people you know, but just far enough to be fiction, and have a little happily ever after and steamy times as well. Shannon Stacey uniformly delivers on that promise in each successive work of hers I consume. In some ways, she’s my new Nora Roberts.
All He Ever Needed is the fourth book in Stacey’s Kowalski Family series. The first two were focused on the portion of the family living in New Hampshire, with book three introducing Sean from the Maine division of the family into the New Hampshire environs. Book four moves the action to Maine and the rest of Sean’s five siblings, focusing on his eldest brother Mitch.
Here’s the basic plot set up: Mitch has made a habit of being a serial short term dater and living his life constantly on the move. Mitch is called home to help with the family lodge which is in some trouble and helping his youngest brother who’s laid up with a broken leg, he’s intrigued by the new girl in town and her reputation for never dating. It doesn’t hurt that he finds her distractingly attractive. After a nomadic childhood, Paige Sullivan has finally putting down roots. Determined to stand on her own two feet, unlike her mother, she lives by the motto “Men are a luxury, not a necessity.” But when Mitch pulls up a stool in her diner and offers her six weeks of naughty fun with a built-in expiration date, she finds herself tempted to enjoy a small luxury.
This book is slightly longer than Stacey’s average and nearly twice the length of the book that comes immediately after it (which I am already reading) and it gives her ample time to lay out both the new location of Whitford, Maine as well as the various casts of characters who inhabit the town. I hadn’t intended to really read this book right now, I was skimming the beginning while waiting to finish the book I was reading but didn’t have handy, and then I was reading this book in huge chunks alongside my other reading. There was more happening in the book than just the Mitch/Paige storyline, and it was interesting separate from the smexy times which did eventually show up.
My only complaint about the basic trope of this novel, that in six short weeks these characters are in LOVE is just how fast Stacey pushes their entire storyline, as I continue into the next book in the series. These characters go from being strangers to engaged to married in about 10-12 weeks by my best count.
I know it happens, I know there are tons of people out in the world who have lived this experience and had it turn out great. But didn’t SOMEONE in your life mention that perhaps this was a bit fast? Literally no one in these books mentions that concern at all. When Mitch comes back after about 10 days from having ended things with Paige to confess his love (as is right and true to this trope) not only do they say their I love yous for the first time, the get engaged. They were strangers 8 weeks ago, and as we pick up on the next book not only are they freshly engaged, but buying a house and getting married in less than a month. A MONTH!
Ok, I’m going to be done with that particularly strange rant, but you see where I’m getting at, I hope. These are easily consumable romances with good characterization which do not rise above the tropes, but mostly I don’t want them to, that isn’t what I’m here for.
Your mileage most certainly will vary.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.