Love a Little Sideways

Love a Little Sideways

by Shannon Stacey

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liz kowalski is heading home to Whitford, Maine—this time for good. Eager for her family, a fresh start and some fun, she doesn't count on being rescued by the chief of police her very first night back in town. Drew is everything she's not looking for…so why is she still so attracted to him?

After a brief, forbidden rendezvous at her brother's wedding, Drew Miller expects Liz to return to New Mexico and stay there. He's searching for someone to settle down with, not a casual fling with his best friend's sister. But when they're stuck together on the annual Kowalski camping trip, things start going a little sideways. Keeping their hands off each other proves just as impossible as keeping their secret from becoming public knowledge.

Amid family, mud and melted marshmallow, Liz and Drew try to fight what's growing between them. But a little time alone, a lot of chemistry and too many opinions might be just what it takes to bring together two people so determined not to fall in love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373002252
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: 11/26/2013
Series: Kowalski Family Series , #7
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 249,570
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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,, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

Read an Excerpt

Liz Kowalski's thirty-year-old shitbox, loaded down with everything she owned, went by the Welcome To Whitford, Maine, sign trunk-first, bald tires hydroplaning as it headed for the ditch.

Knuckles white on the steering wheel, she swore as the ass end clipped a tree and the trunk popped open. Closing that sucker had been like shoving a twelve-inch Jack into a two-inch box and she could almost hear the sproing of her belongings popping out. Welcome home, she thought in the seconds before the Buick's nose smacked left-fender-first into the trunk of an old pine, stopping its slide with a bone-jarring jerk.

Well. That sucked.

Liz sat there for a minute, breathing hard and wondering how long it would be before she could pry her fingers off the steering wheel. Five minutes, maybe. Ten. She'd never been so scared in all her life.

The knock on her window almost made her wet herself. An older man with a fisherman's hat perched on his head was peering in at her and she could see a woman—his wife, presumably—trying to see over his shoulder. Liz read the words is she dead on her lips.

Rolling down her window, Liz forced a reassuring smile. "I really appreciate you stopping, but I'm fine, thank you."

"You just sit tight," the man said. "My wife called 9-1-1 for you."

Oh, no. No no no. "You didn't have to do that. I'm okay. Really. Not even a scratch on me."

She wasn't entirely sure of that fact, but she didn't seem to hurt anywhere. Just a whole lot of muscles that had tensed up and were now relaxing. And maybe a little headache starting.

"It's no trouble at all, and we'll stay with you until the police arrive."

Maybe it wouldn't be Drew Miller. He was the chief of police in Whitford, after all, so maybe he didn't respond to minor traffic accidents. He probably sat at his desk and pushed papers while sending patrol officers to minor accident scenes. She hoped.

Liz pulled the handle to open the door, but Mister Good Samaritan pushed against it. "You shouldn't move around until the paramedics check you out."

"It's raining. You should get back in your car." So she could have relative privacy to scope out how many of her belongings were getting soaked. When the man shook his head, she bit down on a sigh of frustration. "I slid off the road and clipped a tree. It's not even a real accident."

"You could be in shock."

From sideswiping a tree? Not likely. But she couldn't be any more firm with her would-be rescuers without being rude. "I didn't even hit my head on the window."

"Better safe than sorry."

It was another five very awkward minutes before she heard the siren. Rather than being relieved rescue from her hovering Good Samaritans was imminent, Liz leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She didn't even bother hoping it wasn't the chief as the wailing grew closer. The way her luck was running, it would be Drew and everything was about to get a lot more awkward.

"Don't go to sleep, honey," Mrs. Good Samaritan yelled through the window. "You might have a head injury. Stay with us!"

She wasn't going anywhere, but she opened her eyes to make her rescuers feel better. And because she had her eyes wide open, she couldn't miss the Whitford Police Department cruiser that pulled up. It wasn't a sedan with the familiar striped scheme down the side. No, this one was a big, black, shiny, four-by-four SUV with a light bar across the roof and the town seal on the door. It was the kind of vehicle the top of the departmental food chain drove.

The door opened and the Whitford police chief stepped out. Drew Miller was tall and ruggedly built, which she found incredibly sexy because, at almost six feet herself, she didn't meet many men who could pull off the me Tarzan thing with her.

He wore the department's short-sleeved summer uniform, and a ball cap with WPD printed on it covered his dark hair. No rolling up onto the balls of his feet and hitching his gun belt for Drew. He commanded any room he was in whether he was armed or not.

He even commanded outdoor spaces, Liz realized as she watched him head toward her car with long, confident strides. He had sunglasses on, but she didn't need to see his eyes to know his focus was one hundred percent on her.

"Are you hurt?"

Liz wasn't sure if she heard him or was simply able to read his lips because she was staring at his mouth. He had an amazing mouth. It was the first thing she'd noticed the day of her brother's wedding reception.

"Liz, are you hurt?"

She shook her head in answer to his question.

"We didn't let her move," the husband and wife said at the same time.

"Thank you. It's always better to be safe than sorry and I can't tell you how much we appreciate citizens who go out of their way to help when they witness somebody in need."

While the couple talked over each other in a rush to tell Drew how she'd lost control of her car in the rain and parked it in the trees, Liz took advantage of their distraction to get out and survey the damage. There was a lot of crumpled sheet metal and the ground was littered with broken lens covers.

In a rare stroke of good luck, it didn't look like anything had flown out of the trunk. No underwear or toiletries or other personal belongings on display, though the top layer of bags and small boxes was going to take a while to dry.

"So she wasn't speeding, then?" she heard Drew ask, and she knew him well enough to hear the undertone of amusement in his voice. He said it loud enough for her benefit, too.

Liz waited, her cheeks hot with humiliation and maybe something else, while Drew called in a status update and gently but firmly sent her two Good Samaritans on their way. She called out a thank-you, managing a wave and a smile as they left.

"You're sure you're not hurt?" he asked her again once the official part of his duties were over.

"I'm sure." She couldn't think of anything to say after that, which annoyed her. She'd known Drew since she was a kid and, just because they'd had sex the one time, she was as awkward as a middle-school girl with a bad crush.

He moved closer, looking her up and down. She told herself it had to be a police thing—checking her for injuries—but his slow perusal didn't help cool her face any. Once he was satisfied with what he saw, presumably injury-wise, he took a slow walk around the car.

"Can't say what your total damage will be, but with the way that fender's crunched up against the tire, I know you can't drive it."

"Great." Hell of a way to kick off her brand-new life, she thought as he radioed in a request for a tow truck.

"Why does it look like you have everything you own in this car?" he asked when he was done.

"Because everything I own is in this car."

His face was so expressionless, she knew it had to be a deliberate effort on his part. Some kind of cop face, maybe. "Why?"

Liz found it hard to believe the chief of police in a town that loved gossip as much as Whitford hadn't heard. "I'm moving back for good."

"Oh." Seconds ticked by in awkward silence. "I didn't know that. Mitch has been traveling, but I was at the lodge weekend before last and nobody mentioned it."

Mitch, Liz's older brother, was Drew's best friend. And Drew's dad, Andy, was now shacking up at the Northern Star Lodge—the Kowalski family business—with Rosie, who was called the housekeeper, but had practically raised Liz and her four brothers. How Drew could be out of the family gossip loop was beyond her.

"I made the decision last weekend and it was pretty fast. As in, I got off the phone with Rosie and packed my car." She gave a rueful laugh and waved a hand at the car. "I probably should have taken the time to have the tires changed."

He didn't laugh. "What made you decide to come back?"

It was a reasonable question, since she'd lived most of her adult life in New Mexico, but she wasn't about to stand around in the rain and tell him how lonely and isolated from her family she'd felt. "Seemed like the thing to do. You don't have to stay, you know. I can wait for the tow truck."

"Actually I do have to stay. This is a bad spot to be loading up a ramp truck, especially in this rain, so I'll need to do some traffic control."

Traffic was a bit of a stretch, but she had to admit he had a point. Because of the angle of her car, the nose of the tow truck would have to be in the road and that meant he had to stay and wait.

Standing in the rain, alone with Drew Miller. She'd come back to start her life over and, so far, it was off to one hell of a beginning.

Drew Miller wanted to get back in his cruiser, hit the lights and sirens, and drive as fast as he could to anywhere but here.

Liz Kowalski was back in Whitford. His best friend's little sister. The woman he'd enjoyed a rebound quickie with during said best friend's wedding reception with the unspoken understanding Liz would be returning to New Mexico. And, more importantly, she would be staying there.

Not forever, of course. But he'd thought enough time would pass before her next visit so he could look at her without instantly remembering the way she looked naked, with her hair tangled around his fingers and her hips arching up to meet his.

He wasn't sure how much time that would be, other than obviously more than the eight months or so that had passed since Mitch's wedding.

She was dressed for a road trip, in old jeans that hugged her long legs and an even older T-shirt that was doing some body hugging of its own, thanks to the rain. Her thick, dark hair was pulled into a long ponytail and she sure as hell didn't need makeup to show off those brilliant blue eyes. With her strong, stubborn jaw and skin that was tanned by the New Mexico sun, Liz looked as delicious to him as she had the last time he'd seen her. And just look how that had turned out—he was keeping secrets from his best friend.

Standing with her on the side of the road in the light drizzle, all he could do was hope the tow truck driver made good time and to hell with speed limits. For now, more awkward conversation. "Are you moving into the lodge?"

It would make sense. Liz's family had owned the Northern Star Lodge for several generations, catering to hunters before turning their attention to snowmobilers and now adding the ATV crowd, as well. He knew Liz's childhood room was still pretty much hers, even though it was occasionally used by other family members, because he'd been in her room last October. It only made sense she'd save money by moving back into it.

That made things a little complicated for Drew, however. His dad had moved into the lodge and helped manage it after falling for the housekeeper. Since Andy was his dad and Rosie was like a mother to Liz, that was entirely too much togetherness for him.

"I'm trying to go forward, not backward," Liz said. "Ryan and Lauren put her house on the market now that she lives in Massachusetts with him, but they haven't had a decent offer so they agreed to rent it to me."

And since Ryan was her older brother, she was probably getting it for a good price. "And work?"

"I guess since Whitford got connected to the ATV trails, business has really picked up in town, so I'm going to help Paige out at the diner. Handy having a sister-in-law who owns the place."

"Good. That's…good." He lapsed into silence again but then, after watching her shift her weight from foot to foot while looking everywhere but at him, he laughed. "For God's sake, Liz, this is ridiculous."

A slow grin curved her mouth and he finally got a glimpse of the girl he'd known as a kid. "You're right. We're acting like idiots."

"So let's stop." Adult Liz was almost a stranger to him—except for the whole sex thing—but he'd grown up with the Kowalskis and he'd always liked Liz.

"We're adults," she said. "There was alcohol. We snuck off for a rebound quickie, which happens all the time at weddings. So what?"

So what? It was all he could do not to push her up against a tree and repeat the experience, that's what. Though, without the quickie part. He wanted to take his time. And, since he'd been playing designated taxi service that night, alcohol hadn't factored into his decision to whisper his bold invitation into her ear.

And, because he'd watched her the entire afternoon, he knew it hadn't really played into her decision to accept, either. She'd had a couple of drinks during Mitch and Paige's reception, but she'd been far from drunk.

But being chief had honed his acting skills and he was ready to put this eight-months-delayed morning-after awkwardness behind them. "Not a big deal. And now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn't look like you'll be driving this car anytime soon, so let's move your stuff into my SUV before the tow truck gets here."

He watched her chew at her bottom lip for a few seconds before she gave a resigned sigh. "I'll be lucky if Butch can get parts for it, never mind fix it in a hurry."

Butch Benoit ran the garage and gas part of the Whitford General Store & Service Station while his wife, Fran, ran the store part. He was an honest guy who didn't play games and very few residents made the drive into the city to save a few bucks on service. "I think he'll tell you to get whatever you can from the insurance company and use it as a down payment on something a little newer."

She swore under her breath, but leaned into the car to get her purse and assorted other belongings from the front seat. He pulled the SUV as close as he could and started transferring things from the truck. By the time Butch arrived with the ramp truck, her car was empty of everything except the trash a long road trip generated, and his SUV was loaded down with her damp boxes and bags.

Drew moved his vehicle to make way for the tow truck, their light bars flashing bright in the night, then watched while Butch ran the hydraulics and dragged Liz's car up the ramp.

"You sure know how to make an entrance, girl," Butch told Liz once the wreck was strapped down. "I'll look it over tomorrow, but even if you didn't muck up the frame, it ain't gonna be easy finding fenders for this one. Insured?"

"Yeah," Liz said.

She looked like somebody had kicked her dog, so Drew suspected she wasn't anticipating getting a lot from her insurance company. The car simply wasn't worth very much, even before she'd crumpled it up.

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Love a Little Sideways 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Wendylu4 More than 1 year ago
I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I always love reading a Kowalski story but I was a bit disappointed with this one. Nothing major just was not crazy about Liz's attitude through a lot of the book. She was unsure about what she wanted in the future while Drew new exactly what he wanted. She seemed to blame him for that and instead of talking to him she always steered the conversation in a different direction. The ending was also a bit of a let down. I did however love the family reunion where we got to see all the Kowalski's. That was the best part of the book in my opinion.
The_Book_Goddess More than 1 year ago
I had been meaning to check out this author's books for a while but never seemed to get around to it and when I saw this one on Netgalley I jumped on the chance to grab it and review! This story had an interesting concept...the little sister and her brother's best friend have a fling while she is in town and then they each go their separate ways. However, things get complicated when she moves back to their hometown and they are forced to see each other. The attraction is strong, but they are afraid to tell her brother. I found it hard to wrap my head around this concept, but my husband assured me, this would be an issue. I really enjoyed Drew, but I couldn't really connect with Liz. She seemed a little two-dimensional. This a sweet story, with family at the heart of it, that follows two people finding their way together. This was a nice weekend read, but I found it easy to put down. The romance was a little lacking in my opionion. I read a lot of romance, so I have a pretty strongly developed idea of what I really like, and this just didn't knock it out of the park for me. But I did find it to be well-written and I would recommend the author. This was the 7th book in the series, so all of the siblings and cousions we meet in this book have already had their stories. You don't need to read them in order to follow the story, but I think I would've been more fully engaged in their characters had I started at the beginning. It would have connected me to the Kowalski family in a way I feel I was lacking. I do think this author has potential and I would like to go back and read her earlier books. Glad I got the opportunity to read this author...I will go back to try her other stories. I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the whole Kowalski series and I was excited to read this one . I don't know why but I just wasn't feeling this one . After the last book I was excited to read Drew and Liz's story ,but unlike other books these characters didn't seem to fit . I feel like they were forced upon each other . It was a good book , but just not a great book like most of the others in the series .
ehaney578 More than 1 year ago
Liz and Drew are both reeling from bad relationships and have a quick one-night stand at Liz’s oldest brother’s wedding. Eight months later, they meet again as she is moving home from New Mexico and hydroplanes into a tree. With Liz back in town and in close proximity to Drew, it becomes harder to keep their thoughts and their lips off each other.  Rosie, who helped raise Liz and her brothers, knows of Liz and Drew’s secret tryst and decides to play match maker in order to help the couple along. Liz and Drew are in different places in life. Drew wants to be a father and Liz is just trying to figure out what she wants. Can this relationship work with both parties are traveling at different speeds, or will it end in a fiery blaze of glory where neither one of them leave unscathed? This was an exasperating read for me. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to shake Liz. So many times she wanted to throw away a good man with integrity and a good job who wanted to take care of her and she was too stubborn, wanting to claim her independence. However, Drew was not an angel either. I felt that he wanted to be a father so badly, it didn’t matter who the mother was. It was interesting to see the roles reversed because usually women want to have the family while men want to be single and free. My favorite part of the book was the Kowalski family vacation. It was wonderful visiting all the previous characters and catching up with their stories. I really love the Kowalski series. This family plays hard and loves harder. As with all Kowalski books: I laughed, I cried, and I cheered for the happily ever after. Another great read from Shannon Stacey. ***I received an ebook copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions reached are my own***
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I liked the main characters, and enjoyed catching up with all of the other Kowalskis. it was a sweet story, if a little bland.
Emsy-VanWyck More than 1 year ago
Shannon Stacey once again offers a solid romance in her The Kowalskis series with the seventh installment, Love a Little Sideways. These stories of Boston and Maine-based cousins is one that I really enjoy. I'd marked book seven's 1 December release date on my calendar and was quite pleased that the publisher shared a review copy recently. Love a Little Sideways picks up the story of Kowalski sister Liz and police chief Drew, her brother Mitch's best friend. Yes, they had that quick and dirty hook-up at her brother's summer wedding to Paige, but nothing more was supposed to occur - until Liz returned home to Maine from her self-imposed exile in New Mexico. One of the first people she see's after fishtailing off the road on black ice is, of course, Drew, who comes to help her out. With the loan of his classic car (never before driven by anyone else, including his ex-wife), rumors begin to fly. But they're behaving as friends as neither of them want to rock the boat…but the sparks between them are just as electric as at the wedding. With the addition of a family reunion / campout that's filled with ATV off-loading, cookouts over the fire, some r-rated girls-only scrabble, and kids galore - Stacey offers a fabulous Kowalski get together with all the Boston and Maine-based Kowalski cousins. Both Liz and Drew have their own issues to deal with that might preclude a hook-up from being anything more, but that's getting into spoiler territory, so I'm not giving any hints. I was really looking forward to this story and am sorry to say it's just not my favorite of this series, but it's a fun read. If you haven't already done so, I'd highly recommend you add this series to your book shelf: Exclusively Yours (book 1), Undeniably Yours (book 2), Yours To Keep (book 3), All He Ever Needed (book 4), All He Ever Desired (book 5), All He Ever Dreamed (book 6), and Love a Little Sideways (book 7). So, to wrap it up. Yes, do add this book to your e-reader and enjoy! Remember to mark your calendar for the eighth book, Taken with You, to be released in April. Finally we'll find out if librarian Halley might have her own happily-ever-after. You can pre-order it now. I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley for use in this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a cute story. I love the Kowalski's and look forward to the next installment. I highly recommend the entire series!
emilyk52281 More than 1 year ago
I have absolutely loved the entire Kowalski family & series. "Love a Little Sideways" is another winner for Shannon Stacy. I loved Liz & Drew's story. At some points I was cracking up laughing, others I was all teary. It was great catching up with the entire Kowalski family. Who knew doom could be so hilarious! I highly recommend The Kowalski series to all fans of a great romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It feels like I've waiting FOREVER for this book!! And when you throw in Kowalski Family Camping...LOVED it! It was funny, witty, and sexy. A great, fast read!! Can't wait to see what's next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series! Drew and Liz are both starting over again and every new begining has some bumps along the way. Their chemistry is sweet. The story has many classic funny moments with this charming family and all the games of doom make me laugh out loud. I was so pulled into this book I did not want to put it down. Drew and Liz are sexy and fun together. I would have enjoyed a little more at the end but enjoyed what was there. I look forward to more books with this fun living family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the entire series and several are my favorites. I was so excited to read this book, but I just could not gwt into it. I thought ot could have been so much better. I never really fell for their relationship. I was being nice with my rating bcecause the more I think about it the morr I feel like the whole book was rushed and not really gievn the author's whole heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this story of the chief and was a cute and interesting story. I don't want to give away Anything about the book but I gave this author of Shannon Stacy a try...first time reader Of her books..I found I really enjoy her books. I will buy some more of her books. Give her a try you will like her.
stanhope3234 More than 1 year ago
I love this series and the Kowalski's. The family love and great banter is one of the best things in this series. Shannon starch writes the best family interaction and love that I've ever read. Drew Miller is Liz Kowalski's brother Mitch's best friend. Liz comes home after years away to start her life over and spend time withe her family. Drew wants a wife and children, yesterday! The last time Liz was home was for Mitch's wedding. She and Drew had a forbidden rendezvous they thought was a one time thing. Now that she's back? Things are about to get sticky. There's a friends "code", hands off the sister! To bad even Drew's guilt can't keep him from thinking about and touching Liz.  I think the series is best read in order but that could just be me. I've read them all in order except for this one, I accidentally read "Taken with You" the latest book in the Kowalski series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
195pgs... good, but not a favorite off the series. Didn't have the same impact or humor as some of the other ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this aurhoe.r
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
Ultimately, I really liked this book--it's a Kowalski book after all--but for a while there Drew and Liz drove me crazy. They made assumptions about each other, and then acted and thought according to those assumptions, when what they really needed to do was sit down and talk! (Liz especially made me frustrated when she kept on wanting Drew to "man up" and come clean to Mitch about their relationship--even while she admitted that she KNEW he wanted kids, was focused on finding "the one" who he would have them with, yet she wasn't sure that she was anywhere ready to be that person! Make up your mind, woman! Drew deserves better than your back-and-forth craziness...) In the end, I liked the story--it has a great ending--even though I often wanted to smack the hero and heroine over the head to knock some sense into them. (I'm actually glad I read the next book in the series before this one--because that one, for me, was more of a solid all-around win. Having read this one when it came out and then waiting for the next installment might have been a bit of a let down.) As an aside--not crazy about the narrator. She wasn't horrible, but she wasn't my favorite. I can't really put my finger on why--her voices? cadence? pronunciation? all of it combined?--it wasn't enough to affect my enjoyment, but I won't be running to hear more from her in the future. Rating: 3 1/2 stars--C+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice light read with a happily ever after ending
Deadwoodgal More than 1 year ago
I love the writing style of Shannnon Stacey! I have recommended her and will continue to do so. I laughed out loud a lot reading her books. Will definintly look for her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago