In my on-going quest for lighthearted contemporaries I was steered to Shannon Stacey. I had read one of her novellas before, but this was my first novel of hers. It was good. Not great. Not remarkable in any way, but good. And some days you can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.
This is the first book in what is apparently a beloved series (the Kowalskis). It is a second chance romance between former high school sweethearts. Keri Daniels and Joe Kowalski were a hot and heavy item in high school and Joe thought they would be together forever. Keri decided she needed to escape their small NH town where she would always be labeled as her parents’ child, or Joe’s girl, and she headed to California to make a name for herself as a journalist. Joe stayed in NH near his close-knit family and is now a famous, and reclusive, author. Keri’s boss finds out about their past history and sends Keri to get an exclusive interview with Joe. He invites Keri to join his family for a two week camping trip in exchange for the interview. Dormant feelings get rekindled…yadda, yadda, yadda.
This book was neither about the destination nor the journey. It was really just a pleasant time spent with overall pleasant people. The extended family plays a large role, and they are all unique characters who clearly love each other. Being from a close family myself, I always enjoy nice family interactions in a romance novel. It seems too often there is traumatic family backstory to give the characters something to work against. There is a secondary story of Joe’s sister getting back together with her estranged husband that I also enjoyed. Sometimes the secondary romance doesn’t mesh, but this one worked well. For the whole story everyone behaved liked the grownups they are (though I continue to be annoyed that the 38 year olds were constantly talking about being middle aged – boo!), and there are some genuinely funny scenes. Everyone behaved and spoke like real people you might know. A solid book if not a memorable one.