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REVIEW: All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey

Dear Ms. Stacey

Your contemporary romances have become part of my “can’t wait to read” and my “don’t talk to me, I’m reading” lists.  The story follows the eldest Kowalski brother Mitch, a demolitions expert, who returns to his hometown to help his youngest brother Joe out with the family lodge after Joe breaks his leg. He plans to be home for six weeks which is about all he can handle of Whitford, Maine where everyone remembers every one of his youthful peccadillos and can’t stop repeating them ad nauseum.  Yes, Mitch agrees he was a bit of a reckless youth with a tendency to amuse himself with the girls, but that was years ago and he doesn’t understand why he’s being constantly measured against his teenage self.

All He Ever Needed by Shannon StaceyPaige Sullivan is the owner of one of the town’s restaurants. Her car broke down in town and two years later, she calls Whitford home. I loved the contrast between Mitch’s sour outlook on small towns and Paige’s embrace of it. Mitch has had too much of small town closeness and for a girl who hasn’t had many connections in her life, Paige is thrilled to be enfolded in the town’s warm embrace. She loves her newly placed roots and Mitch loves the freedom of living from city to city and project to project.

There were things that did not work for me. I’ve become decreasingly enamored with the guy who pursues a chick for temporary fun and games when the the “hero” believes that the heroine is not the type of girl who is into sex only romps.  This is not to say that women can’t enjoy sex for the sake of sex and that isn’t a perfectly valid characterization for a romance heroine.  And it’s not to say that Paige, in this book, couldn’t be that type of heroine. In fact, she does agree to have a temporary affair.   But when the hero, Mitch, believes that she is not the type to want only a temporary sexual connection and still pursues her, what does it say about him?  It validates every criticism that the town levies against him – that he is a womanizer in search of his own pleasure.  Mitch is unrelenting in his pursuit even after Paige brushes him off, telling him that she is not interested. Mitch promises Paige a good time and that he’ll not hurt her.  I think it’s a bit arrogant and selfish and myopic. How does he know that he’s never hurt anyone after they’ve had their fun?

It really got my back up when Mitch felt that he could invade Paige’s space, both metaphorically and physically, yet was irritated when Paige even approached his own self-designated-but-not-outwardly-communicated-to-Paige space. I wished Paige had asserted more limits with Mitch. Their physical relationship felt awfully one sided and Mitch sent out any number of mixed signals. It would have been nice if Paige had called him on that.

That said, Paige’s reluctance to be temporarily involved with Mitch was understandably worn down by him and his rumored expertise in the bed, which she found out were all true.  And both parties find their feelings engaged, against their will.

My issues with Mitch were why I graded the book down one star.  Everything else in the book worked for me, including the deftly done set ups for the  other brothers’ books.  I feel safe that every time I pick up a Stacey book I’m going to read something funny, sexy, and loving. That’s exactly what I got in All He Ever Needed. B

Best regards,



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Kati
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 12:40:08

    I really enjoyed this one and am delighted that the next one will be coming out so quickly. Sean remains my favorite Kowalski, but I’m looking forward to Josh’s story as well.

  2. Shelly
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 13:19:30

    I really like Stacey’s Kowalski series. It reminds me of old school Nora Roberts’ sibiling sagas. All the characters are likeable even when the stories themselves aren’t the strongest. Example: The “I want him, I don’t want him, I want him, I don’t want him” cyclical debate that Beth went through in Undeniably Yours drove me crazy. Just make a decision already! I though, “Wow, Stacey is really trying to drag out this for an entire novel, huh?”

  3. Amber
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 14:57:39


    I’ve thought the same re: Stacey and old school Nora Roberts. A large part of the appeal for me and the Kowalski books is the strong role of the extended family in the novels. The MacGregors and Stanislaskis had it, and so does the Kowalskis.

  4. library addict
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 15:12:24

    I enjoyed this one a lot. That said, Evan & Terry and Mike & Lisa from Exclusively Yours remain my favorite Kowalski couples. I didn’t mind Mitch’s attitude about Paige “invading” his space because he acknowledged to himself he was being an unfair jerk about it.

  5. Mandi
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 15:18:34

    Loved this one. Great romance and small town. Can’t wait for the next two

  6. Sylvie
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 15:20:41

    Ok, I’m on board. Just got book #1 in the series. One click ordering is going to be my financial downfall . . . .

  7. Sophia (FV)
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 18:54:43

    Yes! I call Shannon Stacey’s romances my “gimme” books. I get grabby hands whenever I know one is going to be released. I loved this one and can’t wait for more.

  8. Meagan
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 03:27:45

    I’m still on the fence about buying this one. I do always enjoy Stacey’s books, but I’m starting to get annoyed with the men who are, for the most part, too he-man/caveman for me. But almost everything else about her books I enjoy. It’s getting to be a war between yay, cute story line and annoying male . . . I’ll think on it some more first.

  9. Jane Litte
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 08:01:20

    @Meagan – Mitch isn’t an over the top he-man. He’s very charming (which is how he gets into all the girls’ panties).

  10. Meagan
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 11:03:10

    @Jane Good to know! Thanks.

  11. Kaetrin
    Sep 15, 2012 @ 00:54:19

    I enjoyed it too. Especially the humor throughout. The bit where Hailey and Paige were talking in metaphor was so funny. I like other Kowalksi books better, but this was engaging and fun.

    One thing though Jane, the youngest brother is Josh, not Joe. If I hadn’t mentioned it, my membership to the pedants club would’ve been revoked :)

  12. Lana
    Sep 24, 2012 @ 20:44:25

    With her last books I could not stop reading them–this one dragged out for me. I thought that the story did not move very fast and that there really wasn’t a conflict. Hopefully her next two books are much better!

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