All tagged Carina Press

Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

“You are going to dance with Ryan before this party ends. I don’t care if I have to stand on a chair and announce to everybody that he has to dance with you.”

“If you do that, I’ll go to the library on Tuesday and check out every Nicholas Sparks book you have and not bring them back so you’ll have to tell everybody you don’t have any of his books. Forever.”

“You wouldn’t.”

Lauren smiled over the rim of her champagne glass. “Oh, I would.”

There aren’t a lot of Big R Romance writers whose books I’ll buy without a second thought.

For a long time, it was just Julie James, and then I found Shannon Stacey, whose Kowalski books published by Carina Press absolutely charmed me with their warmth and width. More recently, I discovered Molly O’Keefe and Ruthie Knox who both have distinctive (and quite different) styles. So whenever one of these writers releases a new book, I usually snatch them up ASAP. 

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the fourth book one of my go-to author’s, Shannon Stacey, Kowalski series about a boisterous New England family, which shifted the setting of the series from New Hampshire to Maine. I was worried that the magic of the first three books couldn’t be rekindled. Fortunately, I gave this series another shot and very much enjoyed All He Ever Desired, the fifth Kowalski novel. 

Ryan Kowalski left his hometown of Whitford, Maine after confessing his love to his best friend’s wife and being rejected. He has since married and divorced and built a successful career for himself in Massachusetts, but returns to Whitford to help his brothers refurbish the family inn. Lauren, the woman he begged to come with him years before is now divorced with a teenage son. 

Ryan discovers Lauren’s son Nick vandalizing the inn and rather than force Lauren to pay for the damage, he makes Nick work at the construction site. And, it provides him a convenient reason to see a more of Lauren, the one that got away. 

All He Ever Desired centers around the theme of “what if.”

The "New Adult" Category: Thoughts + Questions

Portrait of St Mary's College tennis team, Charters Towers, Queensland

Nearly every week this summer we saw news of a self-published author’s “new adult” novel’s acquisition and reissue by a mainstream publisher, setting off a flurry of speculation that “new adult” is the next big thing. This was further bolstered by three digital-first imprints or publishers putting out the call for submissions in this category.

Significant publishing deals and emerging publishers seeking out “new adult” titles aside, I’m not entirely sure that it really is the next big thing—or that an entirely new category is even necessary.

The term “new adult” first emerged in 2009 when St. Martin’s Press hosted a contest searching for manuscripts featuring protagonists in the 18 to mid-twenties age range. It was touted as

…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”

In essence, it was a response to the phenomenon of adults reading teen fiction and a search for a method to best capitalize on that audience that discovered young adult fiction. Ultimately, St. Martin’s declined to acquire any of the manuscripts they received as part of the contest; two finalists were later acquired by other publishers in the young adult category (Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Treachery of Beautiful Things).

Fast-forward three years (and I think this timing is significant), ebooks have gained meaningful marketshare—14 percent of units sold in 2011 versus four percent in 2010 (with genre fiction, notably romance, often exceeding the average) and self-publishing has become more normalized. Books like Easy (which I recommend), Slammed, Beautiful Disaster and Flat-Out Love are self-publishing “new adult” success stories, and are all now published by traditional publishers. Each of these books tells a story of an older teen and are considered “edgier” that typical YA fare (I do not agree with this assessment, however—there’s a wide range of edginess in the teen market). 

All signs point to “new adult” becoming a full-fledged fiction category, right? 

Well, I don’t know. But, I have some questions. 

Can a Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan see past their differences and fall in love? Unbelievable or not, in the world of Shannon Stacey’s Slow Summer Kisses, this is entirely possible. 

Few writers can entice me to read a short story. Shannon Stacey is one of those few.

She expertly translates her trademark believable—and likeable—characters and fresh, contemporary writing style in the short story/novella form. I’ve read and enjoyed her previous shorts Holiday Sparks (highly recommended) and Mistletoe & Margaritas (fun!), and enjoyed them quite a bit. Despite their being short (duh), they actually were complete stories with well-developed characters. Her latest, Slow Summer Kisses, is no exception. 

Slow Summer Kisses features Anna (the Yankees fan), a recently-downsized financial executive who’s taken up residence at her grandparents’ New Hampshire lake cabin while she looks for a new job that will keep her on the same rocketous career trajectory. Her next door neighbor, Cameron (the Red Sox fan), is a bit lot surly and rather reclusive, and definitely not very appreciative of Anna disrupting his tranquility on the lakeshore. The two were childhood friends who grew apart after Anna’s family quit visiting the lake, so there’s some history between the two (yay!). Obviously, the two reconnect, but there’s some healthy conflict between the two very differing lifestyles and goals.

Can Anna slow down enough to appreciate Cameron’s laid back ways?

Can Cameron cope with Anna’s city girl pace?

I love to buy books. Ebooks, paper books, whatever. I simply love to own books. It’s probably a disease of some sort.

Sure, I use my library, especially my library’s ebook collection (more on that in a minute), since it always nice to visit my library without the hassle of, you know, leaving the house. But, ultimately, I feel good about buying books, because I know that it supports the people who create the books I love—authors, yes, but also the editors and book designers and everyone else who’s involved in the creation and curation* of what’s on our shelves, virtual or physical. 

However, as much as I love buying books, I hate feeling manipulated. 

And with the combination of publishers—particularly Penguin—simultaneously raising their ebook prices while yanking their titles from libraries’ ebook collections, that’s exactly how I feel. 

IceBound by Julie RoweUnfair Game?

Let me tell you a little story about my recent attempt to read one of Penguin’s new releases, Patricia Briggs’ Fair Game

I’ve been hit or miss with the Alpha & Omega spinoff series of the Mercy Thompson series. I liked the first book just fine and was rather “meh” on the second. So, while the books in the main series are auto-buys for me, because they’re guaranteed good reads, I’m not as confident in the Alpha & Omega series. 

But, since there’s not going to be a new Mercy book until 2013 (sob!), I decided that I’d been missing the Mercyverse way too much and would revist this parallel series in the same world. Since it was a hardback release, I knew it would be a perfect Kindle book. (I have tendinitis in my right hand so hardbacks, are murder on my hands—I’d quit reading any new releases unless they were in paperback before my husband bought me my Kindle three years ago. Additionally, our house is super-tiny—around 800 square feet—so I can’t bring paper books that aren’t part of my “permanent collection” into the house.)

Logging onto Amazon, I discovered that the book was priced at $12.99. Given that this series is iffy for me, and that it was fewer than 300 pages, I balked at that price point. Momentarily forgetting that Penguin had abandoned libraries’ ebook collections, I logged onto Multnomah County Library’s website to put a hold on the ebook. 

Oh, right… Penguin doesn’t want libraries to lend ebooks


Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby
I should’ve listened to my instincts that a book titled, Gentlemen Prefer Nerds wouldn’t work for me. 

However, I was compelled to hit the “request” button on Net Galley when I saw that, 

  1. It was published by Carina Press, the massively cool e-publisher that’s doing a lot of creative things both in what they’re publishing and their marketing and DRM-free books;
  2. It promised a heist/caper sort of scenario and I am a giant sucker for heists and/or capers; and
  3. It’s set in Australia.

Unfortunately, those positives didn’t cancel out the numerous problems I had with the premise and characters in this novel. 

The basic plot of Gentlemen Prefer Nerds is that nerdy (more on that later) girl gemologist Maddie Maloney is charged with caring for a pricey diamond known as The Rose (she also discovered the diamond in a mine in Western Australia). As part of her effort to find a nice man, she ends up being conned by a jewel thief known as The Chameleon into allowing him access to the stone, which is then—shocker!—stolen. Maddie is, obviously, suspected for the crime and winds up hooking up with a mysterious English dude who promises to help her recover the diamond and helps her escape from the police while they pursue the thief. 

Okay, so the premise is pretty silly—but I’m often okay with silly premises!

I recently texted my friend,

“I’m in love with a fictional character.”


 He responded,

“Matthew Crawley?”


I said,

“Please. Is there a Downton Abbey of Doom?? I think not.”


“WTF are you talking about?!”


This is what happens after you read Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series.

First comes love,

Then comes mass texts to friends,

Then comes the delusional break from reality in a Kowalski carriage!

It’s awesome, even as it ruins other fictional men for you.