(This review contains spoilers but I have clearly identified that section so you can avoid it if you'd like.)
Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.
As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.
Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?
Josh and his siblings were all raised at Northern Star Lodge. His siblings went off to college or work – just got on with their lives one by one. When their dad died Josh was the only one left living in the lodge and the siblings just kind of left him there assuming he’d take over and run the lodge. He did, but he was incredibly resentful for many years about the fact that it was assumed he’d stay and work when he might have had dreams of his own that didn’t include staying in his hometown of Whitford for the rest of his life.
In the previous book Josh finally spoke up to his siblings about his feelings and while they felt bad about it they still had their own lives and businesses. They did agree to try to build up business so that they might get a manager for the lodge in the future…or sell it.
While Josh is going about his every day life with Rosie, his housekeeper and pseudo mother, his best friend Katie, Rosie’s daughter, is in love with him. She doesn’t let on that she’s loved him for years and to him she’s just one of the guys but she still has hope in her heart that one day he’ll see her for the girl she is. Well, he does. Katie’s staying at the lodge and goes to the kitchen for a midnight snack. When Josh see’s her in her boxer shorts and small tank he suddenly realizes she’s hot. They eventually start being friends with benefits but Katie wants more. She doesn’t want to hold Josh down though and if he gets the chance to leave it will break her heart but she’ll let him go.
I’ve been looking forward to Josh’s story and it was a good one. Josh, of course is not in top form in this book because he’s pretty angry and bitter, but I thought Stacey did a great job of showing how Katie could bring him out of his doldrums and see the bright side of life.
Katie is amazing in this story. She’s just an average girl (that loves sports, of course) and I loved that about her. She could dress up and be girly or lay on the couch and watch football with the guys and in both instances be completely herself. She was really good for Josh in so many different ways and she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. She kept Josh grounded which was exactly what he needed.
Josh, the poor guy, was so confused about what he wanted in life. He feels trapped but it’s not because he hates taking care of the lodge. He likes it (though he also resents it) – and is very good at it – but he was never given the choice of whether to stay or go that his brothers and sister had. I think I’d probably feel the same way if I had plans and they were thwarted with no hope of that being changed in sight. As I said, Katie was good for him and he needed the love and support that she gave him. Except near the end of the book when he was an idiot, he treated her very well and I liked them together.
Now the issues that I had with the story were twofold. The first part was the romance. As much as I liked them both and liked them together I just didn’t feel the sense of melding together that I’ve felt in the previous books. In those books there was always a part that had me nodding my head and saying yep, that clinches it. A part that despite the fact that they were two individuals the two were becoming a single unit, does that make sense? I didn’t feel that with Josh and Katie as much as in previous books and it was a little disappointing.
(This part has spoilers)
The second was Josh’s homecoming. I guess this is a spoiler as you now know he left but he went off and tried to find what he felt was missing in his life. We learned that while he was having fun he was missing Katie and not really feeling the satisfaction he thought he would. I know he returned for Katie, obviously, but we weren’t in his head and I would have loved to have gone through the thought process with him. He went from being gone to suddenly deciding to go home and stay there. After such a long time of being stuck as it were, I think it was just too sudden for me and didn’t make as much sense as I would have liked it to. /end spoiler
That being said I really did like the book and it was great seeing the characters from previous books in this one. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Kowalski’s and I hope it’s about Liz!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
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