Yours To Keep (Kowalski Family #3)

Yours to KeepBy Shannon Stacey

Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: June 6, 2011
Genre: Romance
Source: Netgalley

Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.

Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…

Goodreads Summary

In a bit of an overzealous attempt to reassure her grandmother Cat that she can take care of herself, Emma’s taken a little creative license with Sean Kowalski’s life while he’s been serving in the military overseas.  It started harmlessly enough, a small lie told when her grandmother was worried and Emma didn’t want her to drop everything in Florida to come take care of her.  Her best friend Lisa is married to Sean’s cousin and since she knew he was away, it didn’t seem to matter if she dropped his name as a fake boyfriend.  Things sort of spiraled out of control from there and now Grandma’s coming for a visit and she’s expecting a live-in fiancé – and Sean’s home just in time for Emma to ambush him and ask him to play along.

One guilt trip, a little wheedling and some whining later, Sean finds himself with a brand-new fake bride-to-be, a job working alongside her at her landscaping business and a nice house to live in.  They’ve given him a load of grief for it, but he’s managed to get the huge Kowalski family to play along for the month and Cat seems to believe all of them.  With their crazy-hot chemistry sometimes it’s easy for Emma and Sean to believe too – but the month they agreed to stay together is running out and neither is sure how or if the other wants things to last after Cat leaves.

I stumbled across Stacey’s second book in the Kowalski series, Undeniably Yours, last November and liked it so much I went back and read the first, Exclusively Yours.  As it is with any series it helps to read the other books in it first, but you still can pick this up and enjoy it as a standalone.  If you have read the other books, both earlier couples show up here and are worth lots of smiles.

This is one of those plots that likely only exist in Romancelandia and sitcoms and Stacey manages to very nearly make it plausible.  Emma told one little squeaker lie and with each visit her grandmother made to see her, the lie kept building in order to keep her going back to Florida – and eventually she ended up with a fiancé that she needed to produce.  There were some really hilarious things she did to keep her grandmother thinking she had a boyfriend, like having Lisa Photoshop her head onto family pictures taken with Sean so she could hang them all over her house.

Emma and Sean are really cute together and I loved that they were written just as normal, flawed and occasionally weird people.  Right before they picked up her grandmother, Emma gave Sean a notebook filled with information about her that she thought he ought to know – his answer to that was to start leaving Post-It notes on her mirror when there was something about him that he thought she should know.  They bicker over things like who’s going to drive and who’s winning at Scrabble – and all of it’s written with in a way that makes you laugh out loud.  I adore the Kowalski family and any book with them in it deserves reading.  They’re funny, loving and familiar – who could resist a family that has an oily smelly garage where the men congregate to randomly work on some sort of machinery when they have get-togethers or an aunt who carries a wooden spoon in her apron so she can smack people when they get mouthy?

The one thing that kept this book from a perfect score was that I didn’t get the feeling that I really knew as much about Sean.  It could have been because Sean wasn’t part of the “main” Kowalski family that most of the interaction was with – and I was familiar with – but the introduction of his brother and sister felt like sequel bait, not something natural.

My Summary: Even with a shaky premise, this is a sweet, likable and funny book that’s a terrific addition to the Kowalski series.  I was laughing and occasionally tearing up reading Sean and Emma’s story – Stacey has a gift for creating believable characters, a comfortable feeling of family and a satisfying ending.

My Rating: B+




  1. I love this series! I was so excited to hear that a third one was coming out. You're right, yet again, that the plot only exists in a book. But I really don't care as long as it's entertaining!

  2. Yes! If I could force one fake family to adopt me, it would be the Kowalski's. They are so funny and sweet. There's only one OF DOOM in this book – it's a football game, but it's funny and we get to meet Sean's hot brother Mitch, who I think is the sequel bait.

  3. Hey great blog, I found you through Goodreads! I'd never heard of this series, but now I'm intrigued. And I love your rating system, it makes me hungry :-)Leanne @

  4. Hi Leanne! Thank you so much for the kind words. 🙂 It's a great set of books, I love them.Haha, I make myself hungry some days, lol. It was either chocolate or things with caffeine, my two food groups. 😉

  5. Sounds like a great read. I'll check it out 🙂

  6. It's a really fun series – when I need a break from the heavier paranormal things I always seem to pick up, I really like Stacey's books.

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