Kowalski Family #1 // 282 pp. // Contemp. Romance // Carina Press // May 2010
GOODREADS SUMMARY: When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.
Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town–and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.
He proposes an outrageous plan–for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career.
But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.
After months of hearing about the notorious Kowalski men, I figured it was high time I found out what all the hoopla was about. Enter Exclusively Yours, book one of the Kowalski Family series. Wow. I finished this book in a matter of HOURS!
To be honest, I was expecting a typical light contemporary romance — which I have no problem with; in fact, it’s one of my favorite genres — but what I got instead was so much more than “fluff.” Exclusively Yours is wrought with complicated family relationships, as well as two people whose love for each other is both long-lasting and complex.
I was taken by Joe Kowalski from the very beginning. Not only is he an incorrigible flirt, but he’s also up front and honest — with both his family and Keri. Also, despite not having any kids of his own, he comes across as a man who truly loves his family.
Keri is also likable, but I have to say that I rolled by eyes at her a few times. I admire the fact that she takes her career seriously, but there are a few instances where she’s way too prissy (i.e. cliché bitching over a broken nail and harping about needing a facial). I get that she’s spent the last 20 years in LA, but her high-maintenance attitude doesn’t really fit with her character, who seems fairly down-to-earth. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see a woman portrayed as career-driven instead of one so quick to drop everything in her life for the hero. I actually appreciated the fact that she follows through with her assignment after their time together. Let the hero do the chasing!
The rest of Kowalski family plays an important role as well, especially Terry, Joe’s twin and Kerry’s ex-best friend. Her marriage troubles add another layer to the story, which made me sympathize for her… at times. However, I’d have to say that about, oh, 85% of the time she is a major bitch. Yeah, I said it. I get that she’s going through a tough time, but more often than not she’s just a spiteful shrew. Ugh! I know that Ms. Stacey did an excellent job with this story if she could make me love this book despite an unlikeable character. Though it’s Terry’s issues that play a role in setting the story apart from other stock contemporary romances.
Overall, I have to to say that Exclusively Yours is a great introduction to the Kowalski family. At the moment there are five more books in the series, which means I have five more opportunities to delve deeper into the Kowalski family tree!