July 13, 2017

Book Review: What It Takes by Shannon Stacey

Book:  What It takes: A Kowalski Reunion Novel #10
Author:  Shannon Stacey
Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Carina Press
Blurb via Goodreads:
Revisit all of your Kowalski favorites while falling in love with a brand-new romance in this reunion novel from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey 
Laney Caswell is looking for a change. A decade's worth of less-than-happy matrimony behind her, she wants peace—movies, books and, best of all, a new job at the Northern Star Lodge in Whitford, Maine. Spending the summer living in a camper is her chance to rediscover what makes her happy, and a perfect transition to her new life. 
Being a paramedic in Whitford is nothing like Ben Rivers's city life, but when Josh Kowalski offers him the job, the lure of his hometown is too much to resist. Also too much to resist: Laney Caswell. Ben always thought he'd have a wife and kids, a happy family like the Kowalskis have all built, but he never made time in his life. Now he's found a woman who draws him like no other and helps him dream again—and the last thing she wants is a husband. 
When the annual Kowalski family camping trip is moved to the Northern Star, both Ben and Laney are surrounded by the kind of happiness they've always wanted but never had. It just might be theirs—if they can put aside the past and reach for it together. 
My Review:
I have read all the books in the Kowalski series and of the ten, I still love the first five the most.
Technically, the protagonist in this story is no Kowalski, so this is not so much a Kowalski story as it is that of the neighbor and close friend of the family.  However, the Kowalskis are still prominently represented as the setting of the romance takes place in the family owned Northern Star Lodge.
Ben has moved back to Whitford where he grew up to serve as a much needed paramedic.  He often goes to the lodge to visit and help around, especially after he meets Laney, the newly hired extra hand.  Laney has been through one hell of a divorce from a husband who loved being in control of everything and everyone.  She had lost herself and is now in the process of finding who she once was and who she wants to be again.  Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan, but then again, it never is.
The plot is something we have all read a lot I’m sure and with books like this, it’s really all about the execution.  Stacey’s storytelling is good, however for some reason, I didn’t feel connected to the characters as much as I expected to be.  Maybe because I was overwhelmed by the number of characters in the book that I was sometimes confused.  But then again that’s WHY it’s called a Kowalski reunion.  All the main characters in the previous books are here plus their offsprings…. That’s a lot of names and stories to look back on. 
It did thrill me to, in a way, reconnect with those whose stories I fell in love with before, but it also distracted me from the love story of Ben and Laney.  And at some points, it felt like I was being hurried through the book, as if Stacey just wanted to get it over and done with.  Despite this, I did like the book and would still recommend it especially to those who have missed the crazy family that is the Kowalskis.