*I received a free copy of What it Takes from Carina Press via ARC Publisher. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *What it Takes by Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski Family #10
Published by Carina Press on 28 February 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: ARC Publisher
Reading Challenges: 2017 New Release Challenge
Laney Caswell is looking for a change. A decade's worth of less-than-happy matrimony behind her, she wants peace—movies, books and, best of all, a new job at the Northern Star Lodge in Whitford, Maine. Spending the summer living in a camper is her chance to rediscover what makes her happy, and a perfect transition to her new life.
Being a paramedic in Whitford is nothing like Ben Rivers's city life, but when Josh Kowalski offers him the job, the lure of his hometown is too much to resist. Also too much to resist: Laney Caswell. Ben always thought he'd have a wife and kids, a happy family like the Kowalskis have all built, but he never made time in his life. Now he's found a woman who draws him like no other and helps him dream again—and the last thing she wants is a husband.
When the annual Kowalski family camping trip is moved to the Northern Star, both Ben and Laney are surrounded by the kind of happiness they've always wanted but never had. It just might be theirs—if they can put aside the past and reach for it together.
What it Takes is a very back throw-back to the whole Kowalski series, and it was nice to see how all the cousins are holding up after all this time, while also meeting a brand-new couple on the camping ground.
Laney really needed a change after living in a love-less marriage for ten years during which she had lost herself. What it Takes was mostly about her finding herself again, understanding her own wants and needs. Laney thought she needed to be on her own to figure out what to do with the rest of her life, and when she first met Ben, she was doing her very best to ignore the strong chemistry between them. As always, Stacey brings people together in her Kowalski camp-ground – which is really like a playground for adults. I loved seeing all those couples I got to know and love a few years ago, and Ben and Laney were really excellent additions to the series.
There was both catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones in What it Takes, and I had fun with both. Ben and Laney were both a little weary, and not ready to trust in their new-found attraction. Laney wanted to make it on her own, while Ben wanted to get married and start a family, so it didn’t exactly seem like they would be able to find common ground. When they were together, sparks were flying, though, and the hotness that ensued was enough to make me have to fan myself.
All the relationships between family and friends were wonderful, and I enjoyed seeing Laney being included in activities both with the Kowalskis, with Ben, and with her cousin who lived in town. Little by little, I understood why she was so hesitant to let a man into her life and her heart, and at the same time, she craved closeness. Ben was the perfect guy for her, as he was able to let her keep the distance she needed all through What it Takes.
Written in third person perspective, alternating between Laney, who gets most of the points of view, and Ben, and in past tense, What it Takes was a trip down memory lane and a new adventure wrapped into one neat package. If you’re a fan of romances where there are big families, strong relationships, a little action and lots of fun, you should add this one to your shelves asap!
She was going to have to ask Rosie for one of her many notepads and literally start a list so she could keep track of who was who. Navigating Whitford was turning out to be a Six Degrees of the Kowalskis game.
Laney waved back and then turned her attention back to her last few fries as he walked out the door, hoping Rosie wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. Maybe older women in small towns all being obsessed with matchmaking was a stereotype and she wouldn’t have to explain to Rosie why she wasn’t going to date Ben or anyone else why she was in Whitford.