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"You got busy in the backseat of a '78 Ford Granada with Joseph Kowalski—only the most reclusive best-selling author since J. D. Salinger—and you don't think to tell me about it?"
Keri Daniels sucked the last dregs of her too-fruity smoothie through her straw and shrugged at her boss. "Would you want anybody to know?"
"That I had sex with Joseph Kowalski?"
"No, that you had sex in the backseat of a '78 Granada." Keri had no idea how Tina Deschanel had gotten the dirt on her high school indiscretions, but she knew she was in trouble.
An exceptionally well-paid reporter for a glossy weekly entertainment magazine did not withhold carnal knowledge of a celebrity on the editor in chief's most-wanted list. And having kept that juicy little detail to herself wouldn't get Keri any closer to parking her butt in an editorial chair.
Tina slipped a photograph from her purse and slid it across the table. Keri didn't look down. She was mentally compiling a short list of the people who knew she'd fogged up the windows of one of the ugliest cars in the history of fossil fuels. Her friends.
The cop who'd knocked on the fogged-up window with a flashlight at a really inopportune moment. Her parents, since the cop was in a bad mood that night. The approximately six hundred kids attending her high school that year and anybody they'd told. Maybe short list wasn't the right term.
"That was like two decades ago," Keri pointed out, because her boss clearly expected her to say something. "Not exactly a current event. And you ambushed me with this shopping spree."
Actually, their table in the outdoor cafe was surrounded by enough bags to stagger a pack mule on steroids, but now Keri knew she'd merely been offered the retail therapy before the bad news. It shouldn't have surprised her. Tina Deschanel was a shark, and any friendly gesture should have been seen as a prelude to getting bitten in the ass.
"Ambushed?" Tina repeated, loudly enough to distract a pair of Hollywood starlets engaging in some serious public displays of affection in a blatant attempt to attract the cheap tabloid paparazzi. A rabid horde that might include Keri in the near future if she didn't handle this correctly.
"How do you think I felt?" Tina went on. "I reached out to a woman who mentioned on her blog she'd gone to high school with Joseph Kowalski. once there was money on the table, I made her cough up some evidence, and she sent me a few photos. She was even kind enough to caption them for me."
Keri recognized a cue when it was shoved down her throat. With one perfectly manicured nail she hooked the eight-by-ten blowup and pulled it closer.
A girl smiled at her from the photo. She wore a pink fuzzy sweater, faded second-skin jeans and pink high heels. Raccoon eyeliner made her dark brown eyes darker, frosty pink coated her lips and her hair was as big as Wisconsin.
Keri smiled back at her, remembering those curling iron and aerosol days. If the EPA had shut down their cheerleading squad back then, global warming might have been a total nonissue today.
Then she looked at the boy. He was leaning against the hideous brown car, his arms wrapped around young Keri's waist. Joe's blue eyes were as dark as the school sweatshirt he wore, and his grin managed to be both innocent and naughty at the same time. And those damn dimples—she'd been a sucker for them. His honey-brown hair was hidden by a Red Sox cap, but she didn't need to see it to remember how the strands felt sliding through her fingers.
She never failed to be amazed by how much she still missed him sometimes.
But who had they been smiling at? For the life of her, Keri couldn't remember who was standing behind the camera. She tore her gaze away from the happy couple and read the caption typed across the bottom.
Joe Kowalski and his girlfriend, Keri Daniels, a few hours before a cop busted them making out on a back road and called their parents. Rumor had it when Joe dropped her off, Mr. Daniels chased him all the way home with a golf club.
Keri snorted. "Dad only chased him to the end of the block. Even a '78 Granada could outrun a middle-age fat guy with a five iron."
"I fail to see the humor in this."
"You didn't see my old man chasing taillights down the middle of the street in his bathrobe. It wasn't very funny at the time, though."
"Focus, Keri," Tina snapped. "Do you or do you not walk by the bulletin board in the bull pen every day?"
"And have you not seen the sheet marked Spotlight Magazine's Most Wanted every day?"
"And did you happen to notice Joseph Kowal-ski has been number three for several years?" Keri nodded, and Tina leaned across the table. "You are going to get me an exclusive feature interview with the man."
Tina sat back and folded her arms across her chest. "Don't take it to that point, Keri. Look, the man's eleventh bestseller is going to be the summer blockbuster film of the decade. More A-listers lined up to read for that movie than line up on the red carpet for the Oscars. And he's a total mystery man."
"I don't get why you're so dedicated to chasing him down. He's just an author."
"Joseph Kowalski isn't just an author. He played the media like a fiddle and became a celebrity. The splashy NY parties with that gorgeous redhead— Lauren Huckins, that was it—on his arm. Then Lauren slaps him with a multimillion dollar emotional distress suit, he pays her off with a sealed agreement and then he disappears from the map? There's a story there, and I want it. Our readers will eat him up, and Spotlight is going to serve him to them because you have access to him nobody else does."
"Had. I had access to him." Keri sighed and flipped the photo back across the table, even though she would rather have kept it to moon over later. "Eighteen years ago."
"You were his high school sweetheart. Nostalgia, darling! And rumor has it he's still single."
Keri knew he was still single because the Danielses and Kowalskis still lived in the same small New Hampshire town, though Mr. and Mrs. Kowalski lived in a much nicer house now. Very much nicer, according to Keri's mother.
"You've risen fast in this field," Tina continued, "because you have sharp instincts and a way with people, to say nothing of the fact I trusted you. But this."
The words trailed away, but Keri heard her boss loud and clear. She was going to get this exclusive or her career with Spotlight was over and she could start fresh at the bottom of another magazine's totem pole. And since her career was pretty much the sum total of her life, it wasn't exactly a threat without teeth.
But seeing Joe again? The idea both intrigued her and scared the crap out of her at the same time. "He's not going to open up his insanely private life to the magazine because he and I wore out a set of shocks in high school, Tina. It was fun, but it wasn't that good."
Now she was flat-out lying. Joe Kowalski had set the gold standard in Keri's sex life. An ugly car, a Whitesnake tape, cheap wine and Joe still topped her personal Ten Ways to a Better Orgasm list.
Tina ran her tongue over her front teeth, and Keri had known her long enough to know her boss was about to deliver the kill shot.
"I've already reassigned your other stories," she said. It was an act of interference entirely inappropriate for Tina to do to someone of Keri's status at the magazine.
"That's unacceptable, Tina. You're overstepping your—"
"I can't overstep boundaries I don't have, Daniels. It's my magazine and your promotion to editorial depends on your getting an interview with Kowalski, plain and simple." Then she reached into her purse and passed another sheet to her. "Here's your flight information."
The reclusive, mega-bestselling author in question was trying to decide between regular beef jerky or teriyaki flavored when he heard Keri Daniels was back in town.
Joe Kowalski nodded at the cashier, who'd actually left a customer half-rung up in an attempt to be the first to deliver the news. It wasn't the first time Keri had been back. If she'd gone eighteen years without a visit home to her parents, Janie Daniels would have flown out to L.A. and dragged her daughter home by an earlobe.
It was, however, the first time Keri had come looking for him that he knew of.
"She's been asking around for your phone number," the cashier added, watching him like a half-starved piranha. "Of course nobody will give it to her, because we know how you feel about your privacy."
And because nobody had his number, but he didn't feel a need to point that out. He was surprised it had taken Keri as long as this to get around to looking him up, especially considering just how many years Tina Deschanel had been stalking his agent.
"Maybe she's on the class reunion committee," Joe told the cashier, and her face fell. Committees didn't make for hot gossip.
Members of the media had been hounding his agent for years, but only Tina Deschanel, who took tenacious to a whole new level, was Keri Daniels's boss. Joe had been watching Keri's career from the beginning, waiting for her to sell him out, but she never had. until now, maybe.
While he wasn't a recluse of Salingeresque stature, Joe liked his privacy. The New England dislike of outsiders butting into their lives, combined with his own fiscal generosity—in the form of a ballpark, playgrounds, library donations or whatever else they needed—kept the locals from spilling his business. By the time he'd struck it big, classmates who'd moved away didn't remember enough about him to provide interesting fodder.
Nobody knew the details of the lawsuit settlement except the lawyers, his family and Lauren—who would be financially devastated should she choose to break her silence. And, as unlikely as it seemed, he and Keri had never been linked together in the media reports his publicist monitored. He managed to keep his private life pretty much just that, despite the hype surrounding the movie.
"You're not old enough for a class reunion," Tiffany said, batting her way-too-young eyelashes at him.
A half dozen of each, he decided, tossing bags of beef jerky into his cart. He had a lot more list than cart space left and he kicked himself for not making Terry come along. She could have pushed a second cart and run interference on nosy cashiers. She was good in the role, probably from years of experience.
As if on cue, the loudspeaker crackled. "Um Tiffany, can you come back to register one, please? I have to pick up my kids in ten minutes."
The girl rolled her eyes and started back toward the front of the town's tiny market, but not before calling over her shoulder, "She's staying with her parents, but I guess you already know where they live."
Yeah, he guessed he did, too. The only question was what he was going to do about it. He and his entire family were preparing to leave town for two weeks, and it would be a shame if he missed out on whatever game Keri was playing.
Assuming it was even true. Not that she was in town, but that she wanted to give him a call. In his experience, if there wasn't enough dirt to keep a small-town grapevine bearing fruit, people would just add a heaping pile of manufactured fertilizer.
Joe gave a row of pepperoni sticks the thousand-yard stare. If Keri Daniels was looking for his phone number, it had to mean somebody had spilled the beans. The rabid pit bull of a woman she worked for must have discovered her star reporter was once the girl of Joe's dreams. If that was the case, he and Keri were heading for a reunion, and this time Keri could do the begging, just as he had before she'd run off to california.
Two hours later, after he'd unloaded his groceries at his own place, he faced his twin sister across the expanse of their mother's kitchen. Theresa Kowal-ski Porter was not a happy woman.
"You are one dumb son of a bitch."
Whereas he liked to play with words—savor them—Terry just spat them out as they popped into her head.
"I thought you were a moron for putting up with her shit then," she said. "But now you're going back for a second helping?"
"I'm ninety-nine percent sure her boss sent her out here in order to use our history to manipulate me into giving the magazine an interview."
"Keri Daniels never needed any help when it came to manipulating people. And I don't even want to think about that other one percent on an empty stomach."
The entire Kowalski family had once held some resentment toward Keri, but Terry's had festered. Not only because his sister knew how to hold a grudge—although she certainly did—but because Keri had hurt her even before she'd gotten around to hurting Joe.
Posted June 8, 2010
This is an ebook so I read it on my iPod Touch. When I say I read it, let's be honest.I DEVOURED it. I absolutely loved it! Oh my!
It made my heart sing.
It really did. My heart felt so full of emotion it was either let it belt out a song or burst. I chose to let it sing.
Sometimes you read a book and it is fun/sexy/pleasing and you're glad you read it. But three days later you can't recall anything about the book but that you enjoyed it. When I read Exclusively Yours it really stuck with me. The characters and plot have captured my imagination and my heart.
I feel like I know these people. Or I want to know them. I care about what happens to them. I find myself imagining what happens next for them. There is nothing better when a book captures you like that. An author should be proud to know they captured a reader like that.
Shannon Stacey, you should be wicked proud.
58 out of 63 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2011
This was one of those contemporary romance books I started one evening and finished in the wee hours of the morning. The writing is smooth, the characters are well developed, the plot is sweet, and lots of redemption for thirty somethings. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and it was just what I needed when picking up a romance without sex on every page. There are steamy scenes mind you, but the world in which the Kowalski's live could have been anyone's family that likes camping, close knit, and has a bestselling author in their midst. Also, those with a romantic side to see first loves and sweethearts reunite for a second chance will love this too.
21 out of 22 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2013
SOOOOO dont reccomend this book..if you arent mature or comfortable about sex, DONT READ. Joe was all about the sex and the family was crude...every other word was a cus word sounded like the lady wasnt very educated and didnt know what words to use...not worth the brain space..better things to read..and mucv clesner things to read...
18 out of 27 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 27, 2013
Good story line and the intimate scenes were not too graphic; however, they really did not need much detail anyway. I would like it better if the profanity was gone....there are so many intelligent words to use out there rather than the "f" word all the time.
18 out of 25 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2013
Not gonna lie, it has been a good long while since I’ve read contemporary romance, and even longer since that was an adult contemporary romance, but hey, I found the ebook version of Exclusively Yours for free, and thought "why not?".
I’m really glad I decided to give this book a shot. It’s an incredibly fast read, I plowed through it in a single night (while hiding from all the children invading the house on my dad’s birthday). I enjoyed it. I liked the characters, I rooted for couples, I grinned at the humour. The action scenes aren’t that explicit, which I didn’t mind.
What I really like is that as much as it’s a love story, it’s also a story about family. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know that family dynamics is one of my hot buttons. I love seeing how characters integrate with parents and siblings (of which Joe Kowalski has many). The amount of nephews in the story made me cringe, but mostly because at the time of reading about the screaming horde, I had a similar soundtrack playing down the hall.
I am seriously considering picking up the next book so I can read what happens to younger brother Kevin Kowalski. Shannon Stacey might just convert me back to the adult romance fold after all.
Checking for ticks is now my new favourite euphemism!
15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2013
Thank you for the person that wrote the review about the profanity. I am not getting the book.
13 out of 23 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2013
Really R rated may offend more sensitive readers and I really have lately well into the 98 and 1,98 . Add grafic violence and grafic physical body function and potty mouth and authors are losing readers where are their editors?
12 out of 18 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 19, 2013
Posted March 7, 2013
700 pages... this was a beautiful read.. Joe is every womans dream man. SEXY, Romantic, funny and just loveable.
Made me laugh and teary eye. I wish I could give more stars... I cant wait to read the other books in the series... You will really enjoy this book...
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2014
Here we go again!! Why are you featuring the same book as last week and the week before? Where are the FREE Friday books?
6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2013
Very good free book over 700 pages. I couldn't put it down likeable characters and some parts were very funny. Am looking forward to reading the next book in the series hope its as good as this one.
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 19, 2011
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Posted September 9, 2012
Posted November 27, 2011
I was really trying to get into this book, but could not. It was easy to put down and forget about for days. Only 200 pages and took me a month to finish. It was predictable, but I finished it-just to finish it. Not crazy about this one. Would not recommend.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 4, 2013
This was a good read. During one part of the story, I had tears running down my face and had to stop reading it to wipe my face.
This story is about a family that you wish you could be included in. I loved the deep family connection and was hoping that the couple would get back together. I wasn't disappointed.
I read it in one evening and look foreard to ready more by this author.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2013
High School sweethearts are reunited by outside pressures and sent on a family camping trip where they take a trip down romantic memory lane. Supporting characters are strong and there is a major emphasis on family. Good read for those who are looking for a heartwarming tear jerker. Available as a free book on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Real world based story of an author and an entertainment reporter. The family stories seem so real you will think of your own family vacations.
More heart than tingle. There is sex but it won't rev your motor.
Old loves rediscover their feelings for each other. Supporting characters examine their relationships and rediscover their love.
There is lots of angst over career vs. traditional female roles, empty nest challenges, and good old family friction.
Keri is a career woman who is not sure her glitzy L.A. life is really all that. She falls easily back into teenage patterns and never really demonstrates the cut throat expertise which has supposedly made her a success. Keri is a good character but really the Kowalski family steals the show.
Joe Kowalski is an author who is happiest in the bosom of his family. His heart is stuck on Keri and he doesn't want to get over it.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 16, 2012
Posted February 20, 2012
## I did enjoy this book, mostly because of the humor and the hero Joe. How could you not love that character? The heroine was just ok, not great (hence the 4 stars instead of 5). Not as bad as the heroine in the next book in the series "undeniably yours" (kevin's story/don't bother with that one). But this story deserves a read for sure.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 4, 2013
I found this story very believable and relatable. I too almost lost the love of my life because i was confused by how to prioritize what was most important to me. Even though this book was nearly 700 pages,it was a quick read. I really enjoyed it. It was one of the best free books ive read and now im contemplating buying the next book in the series.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.