Review: Falling For Max by Shannon Stacey

falling for max Publisher: Carina Press

Original Release Date: 07/29/2014

Series: Kowalski Series #9

Pages: 288

Falling for Max is the last book in the Kowalski Family series. Is that going to change? I don't know (probably not). Do I want it to change and want her to write another one? HECK YES. But I know she is currently working on her new Boston Fire series (the first book, Heat Exchange, is out now!). So, I guess I can forgive her...we all have to say farewell to our book families at some point--at least until we reread the series!

Anyways, Falling for Max is the book that finally gives us all the answers as to who the mysterious Max Crawford is! In past books, we learn that he is slightly reclusive, and the town spreads rumors that he is a serial killer. Why else would someone need a serious security system keeping people out of their basement? And you know, Max never denies the rumors. DUNDUNDUN. But luckily for Tori's sake (his love interest), Max is not a serial killer. Nor is he a secret porn star...LOL.

You see, Max--he is not what you would expect at all. I thought confidence would go hand in hand with his mysterious quality, but instead, Max is a bit insecure and socially awkward, which doesn't help his case to find a wife. Finding a wife is the premise of this book, but of course, Max's social anxiety makes it difficult for him to even get a date. His first attempt to ask a woman out is unsuccessful, and to make matters worse, the cute waitress, Tori, witnesses the whole thing. But really, is it so bad that Tori saw? Because Max is comfortable around Tori, and Tori wants to help the shy, geeky Max find a date.

I am so happy Max turned out to be who is! I just wanted to give him a big hug every time he froze in fear because he didn't know how to respond to a situation. I totally understand how he feels because I freeze up in social situations sometimes, too. It was cute how much he overthought everything, and I found it especially adorable when he called his older brother for advice. He's a man who needs a plan and routine. That conversation was a riot and totally genuine. His love for his craft is totally endearing, too. Obviously, I just love Max. Shannon Stacey really did a good job of showing the readers how Max progressed as a character. One minute he is a silent host of sporting events, but the next minute he is socializing at a Halloween party dressed up as a serial killer.

Tori was a girl after my own heart. As soon as she thought "bra off and yoga pants on," I was like "okay, we can be friends." Also, I'm not a child of divorce, but I could totally understand where Tori was coming from. I wouldn't trust anyone or anything with my heart either--at least not for a while. Did it take too long for her to deal with her insecurities? Maybe. But I do think that her relationship with Max progressed at the right pace. I loved when Tori joined the crew at Max's to watch sports (even though she doesn't like sports), and I loved the grass scene! It was also cool to see how well Tori understood Max's little quirks. Clearly, the girl Tori tried to set Max up with was not the right girl for him. Tori was--even if she was trying not to be.

As far as secondary characters go, Matt and Hailey (Book #8) are present. I mean, Hailey is Tori's best friend so she's there for girl talk. But I think I died a little (in a good way) when Matt offered the crying Tori his slice of Rose's chocolate cake--not an easy thing for a man to do! Tori's cousin Gavin gets a little more page time, too. I'd almost like to see a story for the girl that Max tried to date, but I don't think I was attached enough to really want it. I do wish that there was an epilogue of some sort--especially if this is the last book of the series. I think seeing the awkward Max with his own baby would have been too much to handle, and I would have loved every minute of it. But if anything, Shannon Stacey writes on a realistic timeline. So, I can't fault that. Definitely recommend making your way through all of the Kowalski books!