Monday, November 05, 2012

Review: All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey

All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey
published by Carina Press in October 2012
He won’t stay put for a woman, and she won’t chase after any man…

Mitch Kowalski lives out of a suitcase—and he likes it that way. Traveling for work has the added bonus of scaring off women who would otherwise try to tie him down. But when he’s called home to help with the family lodge, he’s intrigued by the new girl in town and her insistence that she doesn’t need a man. If there’s one thing Mitch can’t resist, it’s a challenge.

After a nomadic childhood, Paige Sullivan is finally putting down roots. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she lives by the motto “Men are a luxury, not a necessity.” But when Mr. Tall, Dark and Hot pulls up a stool in her diner and offers her six weeks of naughty fun with a built-in expiration date, she’s tempted to indulge.

They’re the perfect match for a no-strings fling. Until they realize their sexy affair has become anything but casual…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Kowalski Family, Book #4

The Story: Mitch Kowalski is the oldest of five Kowalskis in Whitford, Maine and owns a demolition company. He doesn't mind coming home from time to time, but usually doesn't stay very long because of the lack of privacy of small towns and the fact that they still haven't forgotten his youthful indiscretions. However, this time, he's home for 6 weeks as his youngest brother, Josh, who's been taking care of the familial business, the Northern Star Lodge, broke his leg and needs assistance. 6 weeks between demolition assignments with not much to do seems the perfect stretch of time to Mitch to have a fling... And as soon as he meets Paige Sullivan, owner of the revamped diner, he's decided she was it.

Paige Sullivan has been in Whitford for two years. Her car broke down, liked the town and saw the diner for sale and decided Whitford would be perfect to put down roots. Paige had a very nomadic childhood thanks to her mom who flew wherever love was... and Paige is determined not to make the same mistake. As a result, she hasn't gone on a date for two years and it has not gone unnoticed in town. However, she's attracted to Mitch... but she's also heard all the stories... Can she do a no-strings fling?

My Opinion: I read and enjoyed previous installments in this series, but I didn't love them like the majority from whom I read reviews. And once again, I'm most probably going to be in the minority where it concerns All He Ever Needed.

Overall, the story was okay. I mean, when it came to the romance, there wasn't much we haven't seen. The hero wants a fling, the heroine succumbs, they have a good time but eventually realize what they have is more. As a secondary storyline, you have the Northern Star Lodge that is not really doing well financially which brings back another of their brother, Ryan, to check it out. While in truth, Josh is just tired of taking care of it, being the youngest, he was kind of stuck with the lodge while his older siblings got to spread their wings and do what they wanted. In that sense, I do think the older siblings were a bit selfish, just assuming Josh liked taking care of the lodge. Then again, Josh is old enough to express his opinions and could have voiced his displeasure earlier. There were a few more storylines such as the part-time lodge housekeeper's 26 years feud with a friend of her late husband... but the most interesting one involved Mitch's best friend, Drew Miller who is the sheriff. He and his wife are going through a rough patch, because Drew wants to have children and his wife doesn't. As I said, the situation is quite interesting and the arguments on both sides make sense. The problem though is what the wife doesn't understand is that Drew is not choosing hypothetical kids over their years of marriage, what he can't get past is having been lied to for his entire marriage. Definitively not a clear cut, but I can still take side :)

So what was my issue with All He Ever Needed? Basically, Mitch's behavior. There's something about his attitude that just rubbed me wrong... and I know I'm in the minority here, but please, just hear me out.  I was fine with the fact that Mitch wanted to have a fling, six weeks of pure fun and something temporary. My problem was he saw Paige, was attracted and wanted to have the fling with her. He was warned very early that Paige haven't been out with any guy for two years, and still, he set his cap on her... and when she turned him down, he still pursued her. Ultimately, it felt to me like he was  forcing his agenda on her. It's one thing if she had jumped in on the fling, but she didn't. She didn't want to get involved and he still pursued her. Why not respect her decision, her choice? Sure, they found each other attractive, but that didn't mean they had to act on it. They wanted different things... So why did he keep pursuing her? As I said, it'd be different if he wanted something more than just sex, but that was his motive. It just felt disrespectful to me. From the beginning, it felt like he's been after a conquest. He came into town knowing he'd be there for 6 weeks and decided he wanted someone warming his bed and Paige would be it. It just didn't work for me.

I know All He Ever Needed is a contemporary romance novel, so yes, the H/H have to get together for this book to work out, but deep down, I really wanted Paige to stick to her gun, turn him down and not succumb. Why do heroines, when they know full well they're not made for flings, still go for them? Does this really reflect reality? Something else that really bothered me was everyone in Paige's surroundings having an opinion about whether or not she should get with Mitch. I know this is a small town and there's no privacy and people are noisy, but still... This was taking it a bit too far for my taste.

Otherwise, Mitch and Paige's characters were okay. They liked and wanted different things, but could compromise. But really, this book just didn't do it for me and when Paige and Mitch got their HEA ending... I didn't feel like cheering. For now, I also doubt I'll be picking the subsequent books.

My Grade: C-. As I said, this book didn't work for me, but that's really because from the start, Mitch's behavior rubbed me the wrong way. However, from all the favorable reviews for All He Ever Needed I've read on blogland, I seem the only one who had this reaction. So if you had enjoyed Ms Stacey's books previously, you should give this one a try :)


  1. Don't feel alone. In the end that I enjoyed the book, but I did not love it as much as I did other books from Ms. Stacey. And it was due entirely to the fact that he was up front about what he wanted and she was totally honest about how that would not work for her.

    But, even with that issue, I will still be buying her books in the future. I quite enjoy her writing style and most of her characters. :-)

  2. Sherri - Well I'm glad I wasn't the only one. The thing is, yes, I admire that Mitch was upfront with Paige... but if Paige was totally honest that what Mitch wanted wouldn't work, why did they still get together?

    Actually, the reason why I'm not going to pick up the next book has less to do with All He Ever Needed and more to do with the blurbs of the two next books. I'm just not interested in those characters.

  3. Well, I see your point - you're very eloquent about it - but the book wouldn't have worked it Paige had stuck to her guns for too much longer, since they do have to get together. But yeah, I can see how Mitch was pushing his agenda on her.

    I did enjoy the book though, I was in a good mood when I read it, and I liked Paige. I felt the whole housekeeper and her enemy thing was a bit over done, but I was totally Team Drew, it's not cut and dry, like you said, but I do think he was right.

  4. Aw I think this story sounds pretty cute. I mean, I understand your point about Mitch not taking a hint, but maybe the irony is that he was SO pushy about getting his way with a no strings sex fling and that he ended up in love anyway? I always wanted to read these Kowalski books!

  5. Well Nath, I thought the romance in the last book I read by Stacey was underdeveloped, even though it had its cute moments, and I was in the minority. It's always interesting how as readers we experience the stories differently from others.

    Your review is very honest and I see your point. I would have to read this book to really make up my mind about it... but I try to see these characters as adults... a man (or a woman) will push to get what he/she wants if there is a real mutual attraction, but it's always up to the other party (man or woman) to choose whether to enter into a lust-based relationship or not. So to me in this case, SHE is responsible for that decision. He can push all he wants, but she can always say no in a meaningful way if she really means it. This is a fictional romance though... for both to fall in love. :)

  6. Alex - I understand this was a romance and in order for the book to work, Paige had to come around... I get that, but I can't help but wish she hadn't.

    Well you know, about Drew and his wife... She stated clearly why she didn't want to try marriage counseling... and it totally shows that she feels guilty. So she can act as the victim if she wants, but it doesn't change the fact that she lied to her husband all those years.

    Christine - Nope, the irony doesn't work for me Christine LOL. And one of the reasons why it doesn't work is because it's been overdone in contemporary romance books lately. There are scores of books where one character wants a no-string fling and the other character is not made for but accept... and in those, I don't feel any pushy agenda.

    You should give the Kowalski books a try, Christine. I think you would enjoy them.

    Hilcia - I know, I know Hilcia :) and I knew reading this book where it would lead... I just wished that for once, a character would stick to his/her gun. That's all :) And as I said, Mitch's attitude just rubbed me the wrong way.