Review: Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

Format: eBook
Publisher: Carina Press
FTC: Book received for review from the publisher

After hearing the rave reviews of this Carina title, I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This has one of my favorite romantic tropes: the high school sweetheart hookup. Love, love, love it.

Here's the blurb:

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.
I usually don't like books with multiple 'marriages in trouble' which add to the drama of the main relationship. Too often, it comes off as too women's fiction to me instead of romance. I like the focus to be on our primary couple. But Stacey pulls this one off just fine. The entire family is camping together, so it makes sense to have everyone witnessing problems in marriages up close. Plus, the focus only strays occasionally from the primary relationship.

 I was afraid that this book might hit one of my pet peeves: the journalist betrayal, but the author manages to side step that issue, too. Joe is aware at all times that Keri is working on a story. And that she intends to head back home to LA after she's finished. So any hurt feelings from that plan are not the result of betrayal.

I really enjoyed the ATV scenes. I'm not super familiar with them, although they are very popular up here, but I can tell the author knows her way around them. I enjoyed the reactions of Keri, who substitutes for all of us who aren't ATV experts. And she uses the quads in a way that feels completely natural without any tendency to info dump.

My only beef, and it's a nitpicky one, is that one of the  characters referred to Californians as "flatlanders." I have two issues with that--even if someone from New Hampshire would use that term that way. First, "flatlander" is not just a New Hampshire term. In fact, we use it here. In CALIFORNIA. Out here, in the mountains, it refers to people in the valley who cannot drive on curvy roads or who are afraid of a little snow. Secondly, while the heroine lives in LA, that city does not encompass all of California. Much of CA is rural. And it has just about every climate available: snow, desert, marine, tropical. So quit lumping all of CA into SoCal! [end rant]

Other than that one minor annoyance, I thought this was a solid contemporary romance that was very believable, had great characters, and a first rate romance.

My Grade: B+

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