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Yours To Keep by Shannon Stacey - Romance>Contemporary
Emma Shaw needs a husband, and fast! Not because she's interested in romance--after all, she's too busy with her landscaping company--but because Grandma Shaw is coming to town, and she will have nonstop questions about Emma's (stagnant) love life.
Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he's recruited by Emma to be her fake fiancé. Sean doesn't like the deception, but he can't help his attraction to the feisty brunette. A little pretend kissing won't hurt anyone--especially when there's no chance he'll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he's not planning to call home. But when fake, innocent kisses lead to very real, explosive sparks, Emma and Sean discover that their big ruse might just lead to happily-ever-after....
Previously published, newly refreshed.
Reader Rating: 4.2 (17 Ratings)
"Still as ugly as ever, I see."
Sean Kowalski flipped the bartender the bird and dropped his duffel on the floor next to an empty stool. "Runs in the family, cousin."
Since they both stood a hair over six feet, they were able to exchange a quick hug over the bar, and Kevin thumped him on the back. "Damn glad you made it home."
"Me, too." Sean sat on the barstool and took a long swig of the foamy beer Kevin put in front of him. "Sorry I missed your wedding. And Joe's, too."
"You were getting your ass shot at in Afghanistan. We won't hold it against you. Much."
"Still can't believe you both found women willing to be your Mrs. Kowalskis. What's wrong with them?"
Kevin flashed him a grin. "It's the dimples, man. Women can't resist them. Too bad for you we got 'em from Ma and all you got are the blue eyes from the old man's side."
"They do me well enough. How are your parents doing?"
"Good. They're looking forward to seeing you, and Ma made lasagna for tonight."
Sean grinned and patted his stomach. "I didn't stop for lunch so I've got plenty of room. There are a lot of things I miss about my mother, God rest her soul, but her cooking isn't one of them. Aunt Mary, though? Damn, that woman can put a meal together."
Kevin nodded, then stepped away for a minute to grab a water. "So, you've got no job. Gonna mooch food from Ma and bum an apartment from me. The army was supposed to make you a man, not a useless son of a bitch."
"Twelve years was enough. Don't know what I want to do now, but I know it's not more of that."
"No interest in going back to Maine and helping your brother run the lodge?"
Sean shrugged. It had come up--especially when he'd told his brothers and sister he was going to hang out with the New Hampshire branch of the family for a while. But spending the rest of his life at the Northern Star Lodge wasn't something he wanted to do. As a child, he'd hated strangers making themselves at home in his house and he'd never outgrown it. He just wasn't cut out to be an innkeeper.
"It's a plan B," he said.
Kevin took a swig off the water bottle, then screwed the cap back on. "You know I'm just giving you shit. You can crash here as long as you want."
"Appreciate it. Once I've had my fill of Aunt Mary's cooking, I might go home or...hell if I know." It was one of the reasons he'd decided to leave the army. There was nowhere he had to be tomorrow. Or the day after that.
A tall, busty redhead stepped out from a back room and Kevin waved her over. "This is my cousin, Sean. Sean, this is Paulie Reed, my head bartender, assistant manager and all around right-hand man. Woman. Person. Right-hand person."
"Nice to meet you," Sean said, shaking her hand. She had one hell of a grip.
"I've heard a lot about you. Welcome home. My fiancÃÂ©, Sam, and I live in the apartment below yours, so give a shout if you need anything."
"Will do." He watched her walk away because she had a hell of a swing, but--whether it was the mention of a fiancÃÂ© or the fact she just wasn't his type--it didn't do much for him. "Jasper's Bar & Grille, huh? Interesting name."
"It came with the place and I'm too cheap to buy a new sign. Finish that beer and I'll take you upstairs now that Paulie's off break."
Sean knocked back the rest of the suds and picked up his duffel. He followed his cousin to a back hallway, then up two flights of stairs to the apartment Kevin was letting him use for the duration of his visit. It was a decent place and clean, with an oversized leather couch and a big-screen TV. All good, as far as he was concerned.
Reader Reviews (3)
Submitted By: eaeaea on Jan 27, 2013Nice if you like the big extended, interfering family involved in the romance. Not much heat or sizzle, but lovely.
Submitted By: roxrusk on Jan 8, 2013More Kowalski's!! Getting hooked on the series starting with Exclusively Yours, you can't heip but fall in love with this family. Laugh, cry , dream as this couple tries to fool grandma.. and we all know how you can't fool grandma. Highly recommend series
Submitted By: klively on Mar 4, 2012The story is reminiscent of a Jennifer Aniston movie called Picture Perfect - here a landscaper named Emma convinces recently discharged soldier Sean to pose as her fiance. Emma wants her grandmother to sell her the family home, and thinks a marriage will help seal the deal. The rest of the story falls in all the expected places, but it is written well and moves along nicely. There's also a nice subplot featuring Emma's grandmother rekindling a friendship that turns into something more.
Yours To KeepBy: Shannon Stacey