Review: Taken with You By Shannon Stacey

taken with you Publisher: Carina Press

Original Release Date: 03/25/2014

Series: Kowalski Series #8

Pages: 336

I'm addicted to romantic book series that follow a set of siblings. In this case, the Kowalski Family series by Shannon Stacey follows two sets of siblings (the Kowalskis in New Hampshire and the Kowalskis in Maine--the two sets are cousins) and a few of their friends. I just love these books because the family bond is so strong, and I enjoy seeing the family grow (literally cause BABIES) over each book. Now that I got my gushing out of the way, it's important to point out that Taken with You does not closely follow a member of the Kowalski family. Instead, the star couple is the Maine Kowalski's friend Hailey and the town's new game warden Matt.

Hailey Genset is the town librarian and feeling a bit down on her luck. She's lonely and trying to liven up her life by going on a wild (in the loosest sense of the word) outdoors adventure with her new friend Tori. But that was a bad idea because Hailey is so not an outside kind of girl. Instead, she's the kind of gal who enjoys having a routine and staying inside to read, watch movies, and do "things" of the adult variety. Her friends are getting married and popping out babies left and right, and that's all she really longs for for herself. She wants a partner in life that shares common interests with her, and she wants to find him sooner rather than later because she's 40 and losing hope. It's not easy to have faith when Whitford isn't that big of a town, and she pretty much knows all the men there already.

Enter Matt Barnett. He first meets Hailey on her little outdoor adventure, and it's clear that her and her friend Tori are lost in the woods. He would love nothing more than to just go back to his cabin and relax on his vacation, but he feels a duty (as a game warden and a gentlemen) to see these ladies to safety. The interaction is amusing because it's clear that Matt and Hailey do not make a good first impression on each other. Hailey is disgusted by the unshaven mountain man and his nasty fishing hat, and Matt sees Hailey as the exact type of girl he despises--the type of girl who can't stand the sight of mud in her house.

So, imagine the surprise and shock on each of their faces when they find out they are quite literally neighbors because Matt is the new game warden in Hailey's town. It's not long before they both decide to have a little fun with each other--you know, climb the tree like a monkey but then climb right back down--no commitment between them. Of course, we all know how this goes...feelings become too strong to ignore. I mean, Hailey crawls through a doggie door to make sure Matt's dog, Bear (Who btw is a cute and clever black lab. I want a Bear.), is okay. After that Matt has to acknowledge the fact that Hailey isn't who he thought she was.

Okay, let's move on from my lengthy summary and observations of the characters to a few personal opinions:

I was actually surprised with how easily Hailey came to terms with her strong feelings for Matt--she didn't try to the fight them, and I liked her as a character all the more for it. But Matt...STUPID, STUPID MAN. He may realize how great Hailey actually is, but he still manages to mess up!!! How can you be so stupid after such a big event (an event that I shall not explain because you need to read and find out about it for yourself!)? Stop projecting past relationships on to your current relationship, dude! For how much his past relationship influences his current relationship, you would think Matt's evil ex would have made a physical appearance in this book, but nahhh. It just all stays in his head until he gets over it. Luckily, he's a pretty smart man and it didn't take him toooooo long to get over it. Of course, he had his family (can we please get a book w/ Matt's single mom sister????!), the Kowalski's, and the town of Whitford kicking his butt into gear.

Overall, I thought this book was really sweet, and the characters and their chemistry rang true. The relationship (and the story itself) were spot on in terms of pacing. If I could have asked for anything more, it would have been to have more of the Kowalskis present. Paige, Mitch, and their baby girl Sarah are mentioned a lot, and Paige is actually in a few scenes, but I would have liked to actually see Mitch interact with his baby girl. I could have used more of Josh and Katie, but it's okay because they are definitely more present in the next book (review coming soon)! I'm just greedy and never want their stories to stop!