March 30, 2013

book review: all he ever desired

A man has a second chance at winning over his first love in Shannon Stacey's All He Ever Desired.

Ryan Kowalski, the second oldest of the famous -- or infamous, depending who you ask -- Kowalski children is back in his hometown to help repair his family's ski lodge. The owner of a successful construction business in Boston, he hopes his expertise, and even a little of his funds, can get the lodge back up and running successfully. The biggest obstacle to him completing this as quickly and patiently as possible appears in the form of Lauren Carpenter.

Ryan and Lauren grew up together, and she married his childhood best friend, even though he always harbored secret feelings for her. After he made her an offer she had to refuse, he has been absent from her life for more than a decade. Now divorced and seeing him as more than the ex-BFF of her ex-husband, the two find themselves spending more time together and having increasing difficulty keeping their eyes and hands off of each other.

But elements from their past and the unknown nature of their future continues to cause rifts in their otherwise wonderful relationship. Both will have to decide what kind of compromises they are willing and able to make if they have a shot at forever.

Though I liked Lauren well enough, the real star of this book, for me, was Ryan. He was a perfect mix of broody, gentlemanly manners, dedication and overall adorableness to keep me interested in the story. Despite his outward confidence and apparent self control, he also showed nervousness and even a little shyness where his leading lady was concerned. Like I said: adorable.

Another highlight of the story was Ryan's relationship with his family members. They are a tight-knit bunch, and many of them had their own love stories shared in previous books in the Kowalski series. Along that grain, even though there are previous books in this series, this was written well enough as a stand alone that I did not find myself confused about anything that happened before. That is a definite strength. At the same time, because I enjoyed this story and the characters enough, I am interested in going back to read some of those books to see how their love stories unfolded.

The obstacles in this book were believable. More and more people come from failed past relationships or marriages, have children and complicated professional situations. To make a relationship work, both people must be willing to compromise and find a middle ground to travel together.

And though this story has a happy ending, which you expect with a Harlequin novel, the sacrifices Ryan and Lauren are willing to make for each other keeps it from being clear cut and perfect. The realism of that tied into the romance made it a different kind of perfect.

Rating: 4 of 5

For More Information Visit
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