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Lizardo94

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Holiday Kisses: A Holiday Romance Collection
Jaci Burton, HelenKay Dimon, Shannon Stacey, Angela James
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All He Ever Dreamed  - Shannon Stacey

Reviewed for Evie at www.Evie-Knight.com

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via RT Con 2013.

This is not the first book I've read from Shannon Stacey. I enjoy her writing quite a bit and I think she writes realistic contemporary romances. I love how none of her characters are perfect and, like real people, can become extraordinary in extraordinary circumstances. Although I only gave this one 3.5 stars, I feel like this book lives up the standards that I expect from a Shannon Stacey book!

The female character is Katie and she's pretty great! She's lived her whole life in Whitford, Maine and she's happy staying right where she is because she has everything she needs. She took over the barbershop from her father after he passed away has never really had a desire to leave. Her mom, Rosie, lives at the Northern Star lodge (owned by the Kowalski's). And I really loved Rosie and Katie's relationship. It's such a normal, healthy relationship and I feel like I see so few of those in books these days. Obviously, they love each other but they also support each other. It was so fun to watch Rosie meddle in Katie's love life, or more accurately, her lack of one! The best part was that Katie kind of knew what her mom was doing and she really didn't mind! LOL! That just cracks me up! The only issue I had with Katie is actually one of the things I liked about her. As I stated before, she's this small town girl and has no desire to leave. But how can someone who has never left home REALLY know what they want? How can she really know who she is? I'm not suggesting that small towns are bad. I'm just saying that you can't find out a lot about yourself if you're never in new surroundings or situations. So she feels like she's happy and wants for nothing but she's never known anything else! See how this goes around and around in my head!? But that was just a tiny, minute little issue. Overall, I really liked Katie and I liked how open and honest she was with Josh.

Josh is the Kowalski in this sixth book of the Kowalski series. He's the one who was left behind when his brothers and sisters went on with their lives after the Northern Star became theirs. I really liked Josh a lot. But I also felt really bad for him. He's had to stay behind and watch his brothers and sisters all find love, a life, and happiness by leaving Maine and he's been shackled to this lodge. It isn't like he hates the lodge or anything. He's just resentful. I have to say that it really made me dislike his whole family, a lot. Even after I finished the book, I still don't like them. I mean, they all had years to find themselves and Josh only gets a few months? I just felt that it wasn't right. Having said that, I still really liked Josh and it wasn't only sadness that I felt for him. He's funny and he really loves his family, even his adopted family, Rosie (Katie's mom). Since Rosie lives at the Northern Star, Josh is very close with her. He thinks of Rosie as his second mom and they have a great relationship.

I think that Josh and Katie were very hot together. Once they got going, of course! It was fun to watch Josh realize that Katie wasn't just one of the guys anymore. Now Katie has loved Josh forever but Josh never realized and now that he DOES see her differently, it was awesome to watch him stumble all over the place, trying to figure out how to navigate these new waters with Katie. He was concerned that if anything in this love affair went wrong, that he would lose his best friend and he would never want that. I thought it was really smart for him to realize that things could and would change and for him to try to minimize that. 

Overall, this was a pretty good book. There isn't much excitement in this installment though. It's more of a nice, sweet meander through the progression from friends to lovers and beyond. I really enjoyed Josh and Katie as friends and they just keep getting better as they get closer. My only complaint about this book is that I never got back to the point of NOT disliking Josh's brothers and sisters. I think that, by the end of the book, we're supposed to be happy for Josh and to let bygones be bygones. Although I was happy for Josh, I never got back to liking his family. To me, they're still selfish jerks who left all the responsibilities of the lodge to Josh without a look back and without a thought to how Josh might have felt about the whole thing. Since this is only my second foray into the Kowalski's world, I haven't had enough time to build up good thoughts about the rest of Josh's family though, so don't write off this book just because of that. Shannon Stacey weaves a great romantic tale and any fan of contemporary romance will enjoy this book too!