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Yours to Keep

Yours to Keep

4.4 68
by Shannon Stacey

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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 fiance.


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 fiance. 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….

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Books like this are why I read romance."
- Smart Bitches, Trashy Books on Exclusively Yours

"This is the perfect contemporary romance!"
- RT Book Reviews on Undeniably Yours

"Sexy, sassy and immensely satisfying"
- Fresh Fiction on Undeniably Yours

"This contemporary romance is filled with charm, wit, sophistication, and is anything but predictable"– Heart to Heart, BN.com, on Yours to Keep

Product Details

Publication date:
Kowalskis Series
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

"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 bar stool 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 fiance, 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 fiance 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 oversize leather couch and a big-screen TV. All good, as far as he was concerned.

"So this is it," Kevin told him when he was done showing him around and had given him the key. "You've got all our numbers, and Paulie's usually in the bar if you need anything."

Sean shook his hand. "See you at dinner, then. Looking forward to meeting Beth and that baby girl of yours."

"Lily's a firecracker. Had her first birthday a week ago and loves terrorizing the shit out of her cousins." He whipped out his wallet, and it fell open to a picture of a feisty-looking little girl with one of those palm-tree-ponytail things on the top of her head, bright blue eyes and devilish dimples.

"She'll break some hearts someday," Sean said, because that's what men seemed to say when shown pictures of other guys' daughters.

"And I'll break open some heads. Joe's Brianna looks a lot like Lily, but without the dimples. She's four and a half months now and loud as hell." Kevin headed for the door. "I told Beth I'd be home by three so she can make something to bring to Ma's without tripping over Lily, who doesn't stay where we put her anymore. I'll see you about six."

When he was gone, Sean dropped onto the couch and closed his eyes. It was good to be home, even if home was a borrowed apartment. For the first time in twelve years he could go wherever he wanted. Do whatever he wanted. The army had given him a good start in life and he didn't regret the years he'd served, but he was ready to be his own man again.

The first order of business as his own man? A power nap.

A knock at the door surprised him, jerking him out of a light sleep. It wasn't as if he was expecting company. As far as he knew, the only people who'd be looking for him were family, and he was meeting them at his aunt and uncle's. Still, he pulled open the door expecting to see one of his cousins.

He was wrong. His unexpected guest was definitely not related to him, which was a good thing considering his body reacted as though it was his first time seeing a pretty woman. She had a big curly mass of dark hair full of different colors—almost like a deep cherrywood grain—and whether she'd be a brunette or a redhead probably depended on the lighting. Her eyes were even darker, the color of strong black coffee, and just the right amount of curves softened a taller-than-average, lean body.

A body that made his body stand up and take notice in a way the sexy bartender downstairs hadn't. This woman wasn't too top-heavy and the way she took care of her body made him think if they wrestled under the sheets, she'd make it one hell of a good match.

Okay, he really needed to get laid if he was going to start imagining sex with any random stranger who knocked on his door.

"Can I help you?" he prompted when she just stood there and looked at him.

She picked at the fraying wrist of a navy sweatshirt that had Landscaping by Emma written across the front in fancy letters. "Are you Sean Kowalski?"


"I'm Emma Shaw…your fake fiancée."

"Say what?"

Emma Shaw sure knew how to pick a fake man. The real Sean Kowalski was tall, had tanned and rugged arms stretching the sleeves of his blue T-shirt, and dark blond hair that looked as if it was growing out from a short cut. A little scruff covered his square jaw, as if he'd forgotten to shave for a couple of days, and even squinting at her in a suspicious manner, his eyes were the prettiest shade of blue she'd ever seen.

Okay, maybe it wasn't all suspicion. His expression implied he was afraid she was some crazy woman who'd gone off her meds and was going to start speaking in tongues or show him the handmade Sean doll she'd crafted to sleep with.

"Lady, I've never had a fiancée, fake or otherwise," he said in a low voice that made her knees weaken just a little. "And it's been a while since I've gone on a decent bender, so if I'd asked you to marry me, I'm pretty sure I'd at least remember your face."

That would have been hard to do. "We've never actually met."

He stopped squinting at her and snorted. "Let me guess—this is some joke my cousins thought would be a funny way to welcome me home? Okay, so…ha-ha. I've got stuff to do now."

He started to close the door, but she slapped her hand against it. "I'm a friend of Lisa's. Your cousin-in-law, I guess she'd be."

"Mikey's wife?" He pulled the door open when she nodded. "Maybe we should start this conversation in a different place. Like the beginning."

She took a deep breath, then blew it out. "My grandmother's raised me since I was four."

"Maybe not that far back."

"She retired to Florida a couple years ago with some friends, and I take care of the house I grew up in. But all she was doing was worrying about me, and when she started talking about moving back so I wouldn't be alone, I told her I had a boyfriend. Then I told her he'd moved in with me. And, because I would only date a super-great guy, after a while he proposed and naturally I accepted."

"And I got dragged into this how?"

"I had just gotten home from having lunch with Lisa and she'd mentioned sending you a care package. Your name just popped into my head when Gram asked what my boyfriend's name was."

He shook his head. "Let me get this straight. You told your grandmother that a guy you've never met is your boyfriend?"

"I just wanted her to worry less."

"Maybe she's right to worry about you."

Ouch. "I'm not crazy, you know."

He folded his arms across his chest and looked down at her. "You made up an imaginary boyfriend."

"You're not imaginary. Just uninformed."

He didn't even crack a smile. "What do you want from me?"

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

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Yours To Keep 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
chearne711 More than 1 year ago
Every book in this series is pretty much the same. They both fall in love fairly quickly (say...a few days to a few weeks), don't want to tell each other because of pride/insecurity, get slapped in the face with loneliness after they go their separate ways, realize they are being stupid, and get married and have babies. There is at least one sexual scene in each book as well, sometimes more. Sorry for spoiling it, but really? Did you THINK it would have a bad ending? On the flip side, I actually LIKE reading books like these because they make me feel all warm and fuzzy. The guys are tall and ruggedly handsome, sweet, and will do anything for their ladies. Who doesn't like to read about that and pretend it's your story, right? I would probably read more of Stacey's books. Easy reads with happy endings.
Judy_F More than 1 year ago
Shannon Stacey delivers another exceptional Kowalski story in Yours To Keep. Emma Stone is in a major bind, she needs a fiancée now. She doesn’t want her Grandma Shaw to worry about her living in her old house all alone so she made up a dotting husband to be. Emma is friends with Lisa Kowalski and uses Lisa’s cousin Sean as her new man. Now she just needs to met and tell Sean the news. Sean Kowalski is finally out of the Army and undecided what he wants to do with the rest of his life. He certainly doesn’t want to go along with the woman at his door trying to talk him into pretending to be her fiancée for a month. But Sean reconsiders and agrees to help Emma out. What started out as a few pretend kisses suddenly turns into a sizzling connection. With the Kowalski family and Grandma Shaw’s behind the scenes maneuvers neither Sean nor Emma stand a chance of not falling for each other. Once the month is up will either be willing to risk it all on possibly the best thing that has happened to either of them. Yours To Keep is an unconventional romance. Pretending to be in love is never easy but once these two give into their attraction it becomes easier by the day. This book snaps and sizzles. I am happy my friend turned me onto this author. I hope there are more Kowalski tales coming soon.
Joey44 More than 1 year ago
Emma Shaw owns a landscape gardening business and is looking after a large home that belongs to her grandmother who lives in Florida. Emma told her grandmother that she was engaged so she wouldn't worry about Emma looking after everything on her own.  Emma lied because she didn't want Gram to leave her friends in Florida to come take care of her. When Emma hears that her grandmother is coming to visit for a month, Emma has to produce the fiance. She had told Gram her fiance was Sean Kowalski.  Sean has been away in the army but just came back so Emma asks him to play along with her.  After thinking about it for a bit he actually agrees. It's a tough month for both of them as they pretend to be engaged and share a bedroom.  They both start to be attracted to each other but pretend not to be. It was funny that Emma planned this whole pretend fiance so her grandmother would not worry about her but Gram saw through the act right away. Gram got together with Sean's Aunt Mary and they came up with a plan to get Emma and Sean to become a real couple because they saw the attraction between them. Stacey tells a good story.  I loved Yours To Keep and I'm crazy about the Kowalski family.  The character development was perfect, really showing the reader what all the characters were like.  On top of everything good in this book, it had funny parts too. Emma's grandmother, Cat, ran into an old friend, Russell, which was a nice side romance.  What didn't sound right was their many comments about how hard it was for them to sit on the ground or about their aches and pains.  OK, they are 65 years old but that's not so old that they should be having this kind of trouble yet.  Also they have quite a physical romance so if they can do that, why are they having so much other physical trouble? I thought the ending was terrific.
GrammyWammySO More than 1 year ago
A little slow to start, but a very good book. New author for me which led to more new books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read these out of order so i knew the outcome but didnt know how it happened. This was my favorite You will totally enjoy this book and the entire series...hsppy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best of the three. Wish there was a 4th.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In love with all the Kowalski boys! Cant wait to read more!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed and was an easy read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this entire series of books; but this one was my fave. Loved the story and the characters and found myself lol at some points in the story. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the characters. Laughed so hard. Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved it! I need to read more of the Kowalski clan!
Robsessed More than 1 year ago
Loved! Loved Loved! this boom!  Shannon  Stacey is awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far the best one, loved the story and the humor was laughing out loud Cant wait to read the next book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the characters and storyline was funny and excited, which keeps you entertained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want a nice little romance then give this one a try.. loveable characters!
BookReaderAnnie More than 1 year ago
Visiting with Kowalski family is always a good time. There is something about this family that makes you want more. Stacey has a way of writing a character that fells real. I loved reading about Emma and Sean. I can't wait to read whats next.
KDGracon More than 1 year ago
Great read! Read in one day. Laughed out loud so hard at the adult game they played. Awesome. Still like Keri and Joe's story best. But this was good. Can't wait till the next Kowalski adventure.
KindleGal More than 1 year ago
This book was by far the best in the Kowalski series! Emma Shaw needed a fake fiancé. Fast. Her grandmother was flying in from Florida to check in on her well-being, worried about Emma living in her big house all alone. Sean Kowalski was the perfect guy for the job. He was fresh off of his last tour of duty and needed a temporary job and place to stay while he figured out what to do next with his life. Although the premise seems ridiculous, the author somehow made it completely believable. I think it helped that Sean was incredibly reluctant about “playing house,” initially turning Emma down and thinking she was crazy. And when he did agree to help her, I appreciated how Emma was super jumpy around him in the beginning. Because they really were complete strangers. I loved the characters in this book. Sean and Emma were perfect! I loved his loyalty and honesty; I loved her sass and independence. And the chemistry between them was great! I thought Kevin from Undeniably Yours was a great hero, but Sean was totally swoon-worthy and hilarious—my two most favorite traits in a guy. The secondary story—Gram and Russell—was sweet, but I would have rather spent more time with the whole Kowalski gang. Ms. Stacey writes fantastically snarky dialogue, and I was craving more of it. Still, this book was by far the best in the series for me. ***4.5 stars*** Grade: A-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy the Kowalskis series and cant wait for the next few books in the series to come out this fall! Shannon Stacey tells a great story and I love how she ties all the books together. This book played into the theme and matched the others perfectly. Make sure you read the first two books in the series first!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all the Kowalski stories, but this is my favorite. How can you not like a man like Sean. How can you not like a man who writes sticky notes? How can you not like a woman like Emma. How can you not like a woman who loves her grandmother so much she would fake a fiance' to keep her from worrying? How can you not like both of these people? Not to mention the rest of the crazy family? How can you not like the wooden spoon?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story just pulls you in!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book just was hoping ending would have been more- you will just have to read it to see if you agree
laura10LK More than 1 year ago
I love her books but this series was great i wish she would write more about them
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago