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REVIEW: All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey

Dear Ms. Stacey:

I hate to tell you this but I was bored for most of the book.  I don’t know if it was that I was reading a Christmas book post Christmas and thus all the holiday decorating, the trimming of the tree, the planning for a holiday party seemed tiresome and pre Christmas, I would have been rah rah rah. But I think the real blame rested on the struggle I had with Josh and Katie as a couple.  I felt that they had very little on page chemistry.

All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon StaceyKatie has had a long time crush on Josh and when I say LONG TIME, I mean she is thirty three years old and despite being treated like one of the guys since she and Josh were kids, she has failed to a) put any moves on Josh and b) put any distance between the two in order to find someone else. She must really be into sadism to stick around for nearly twenty years waiting for a chance. I barely started the book and I was frustrated with her lack of action.

Josh and Katie are pushed together when Rose, Katie’s mother, and Josh’s mother figure, pretends to be sicker than she really is. Katie comes to live at the recreation lodge that Josh cannot wait to flee as soon as he and his brothers come up with a plan for its future – either sell it or find a capable manager.

People told Josh all the time that Katie and he belonged together and his thought was pshaw. (which is an old lady sound but perfectly suited to the sedate storytelling that took place in the first third of the book). Even when people told him “Hey, Katie has girl parts and those girl parts might fit mighty nice with your boy parts”, Josh still put her in the friendzone and frankly that’s where she stayed for me as well. I simply didn’t buy the romantic and sexual feelings that he exhibits. He only notices that she is a female when she stands in the kitchen with shorts and tank top? It seems forced for the sake of the story. They’ve been best friends since forever and are outdoorsy types and he’s never seen her in a swimsuit or shorts and a tank?

Worse, Josh’s sudden about face when he sees Katie as sexy female is over the top. He sports wood so often and so hard he can barely walk.  I was so discomfited by his crazed and constant sexual thoughts, I had to take frequent breaks. This felt like classic overcompensation like when a guy’s dick is really small so he goes around bragging that it’s so monstrous, there are no condoms that fit. In order to make us believe that Josh had moved Katie out of the friendzone into the hotpantszone, every thought had to be sexual.

Katie is given the perceptiveness of a five year old.  Boy, Josh is acting really strange around me since he saw me in my boxer shorts and tank. And he’s been having erections.  What was that?  You think he may want to have sex with me? Really?

“Ha! I knew you guys would hook up eventually.”

“We haven’t actually hooked up. He told me to put some clothes on and went storming up to his room. Alone.”

Max stared at her for a few seconds, his head cocked to one side. “Okay, wait. It’s midnight. You guys are alone in the kitchen and you’re barely dressed and…he told you to put some clothes on?”

“Yeah. And ever since he realized I’m not actually one of the guys, he’s been acting weird. Not all the time, but a lot.”

“Probably only when he’s thinking about having sex with you.”

That gave her pause, because if Max was right, that would mean Josh thought about having sex with her a lot.

I never fully bought into the HEA after so much time was spent convincing us that Josh had restless feet. When Katie moves in, he isn’t tantalized by her closeness. He’s annoyed that he still can’t leave. His whole focus is on leaving and thus whatever is next to him is just an obstacle.

The non bedroom and non sexual interaction between Katie and Josh was fantastic and the set up for future couples was interesting without being intrusive.  As always, the interaction between the Kowalski brothers provided wry but necessary humor.   It was the romance that was the tough sell.  There was so little forethought given by Josh about sleeping with his best friend, particularly when he wanted to leave. It was understandable that Katie was willing to risk it, but Josh? For sex?  It just made no sense.

Once Josh and Katie begin having sex  and Josh was no longer running around like a dog wanting to rut, the story settled into a familiar and welcome rhythm where even the sex scenes were infused with authenticity and gentle ribbing:

“This is your fantasy,” she snapped. “How the hell did you picture this working?”

“I think you’re more flexible in my imagination.”

She would have hit him, but her arm being braced against the dash was all that was keeping her face from bouncing off the steering wheel. “Maybe you should imagine how you’re going to get that condom on after I’m in your lap.”

“This was a lot sexier when the real you wasn’t actually involved, just so you know.”

“I already took my jeans off, so we’re doing it.”

“If you leave an ass print on the inside of the windshield, I’m putting that in my report.”

The ending, though, was like the beginning.  It lacked a satisfactory resolution what with Katie not being supportive and the character arc of Josh being a bit too predictable.  While I’m still a fan of the Kowalski’s, this slow moving romance, failed to convince me that these two friends really belonged together as lovers. C

Best regards,


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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
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 12:04:41

    I had a similar reaction, Jane. I realized last night that I was flipping pages on my iPad w/o really reading them. So disappointing, because I really love this series and had high hopes for Josh and Katie. But I felt like their connection was almost manufactured. Felt like Josh should have been much more bowled over to discover his feelings for her and then, once they were a couple, their love for each other would be more palpable. And like you, I was all, “What are you, 14?” about the erections.

    This book didn’t put me off Shannon Stacey at all, I still love her books and look forward to reading each one, but this one was a miss for me as well.

  2. Sara
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 12:15:27

    I had this Shannon Stacey book pre-ordered and I have loved/enjoyed her Kowalski series, but I too did not enjoy this installment as I typically do. I felt like he settled for Katie and the lodge. She deserved much more, and on that note he deserved much more. He needed to with out a doubt know where he was meant to be and who his love was, not to mention the fact that I feel he should have groveled a lot more in order to get her back. I still <3 Shannon S. but was sad this story was such a bummer.

  3. Liz Mc2
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 12:50:13

    That sex scene quote is pretty hilarious and so real. I know I’m more flexible–in every sense–in my fantasies.

  4. library addict
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 13:08:17

    Hmm, I enjoyed this one the most since Yours to Keep. The friends-to-lovers path seemed true to their characters for me. I thought it was obvious that although Josh kept saying he wanted to leave it wasn’t what he truly wanted, just something he felt he’d been denied a choice about. It wasn’t like he had the plans/desire to do something else with his life or specific places he wanted to go. So my frustration was more with him taking so long to figure things out. I agree he could have groveled a bit more when he returned though.

  5. Jane
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 13:10:31

    @library addict: “It wasn’t like he had the plans/desire to do something else with his life or specific places he wanted to go.”

    This was really my problem with Josh as well (and it dovetails with the ending). Did we really know Josh? Did Josh even know himself? Like you said, he never made plans as to what he would do without the lodge. His post lodge activities seemed so … odd.

    Whoops, premature submission of comment.

    Anyway, like if all he wanted to do was eat steak in KC, why not go on vacation there? Why couldn’t one of his four siblings spell him at the lodge? Why couldn’t his older brother take him to one of his demolition sites? Why couldn’t he have visited his sister Liz in New Mexico. The idea that he couldn’t ever leave rested primarily on his siblings being incredibly selfish or Josh not being able to plan which, as we saw how capably he managed the Lodge, was untrue.

  6. Iola
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 13:52:06

    A shame – I enjoy the friends-to-lovers plot, but it has to be real. Well, this is fiction, so it has to be well-written enough that I can pretend it’s real.

  7. Kate
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 19:25:11

    This was definitely not one of the best in the series. The only thing that saved it was small glimpses of Mitch – she always gives him the best interactions with his brothers.

  8. Sherri
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 19:34:11

    I have to agree about this book being something of a letdown. :-( I have really loved the Kowalski books. I think there were some fun scenes but overall it left me feeling like a deflated balloon. And regarding Josh trip and the his ultimate realization about what would provide his long term happiness. I would have liked to have seem it take longer and had a stronger emotional impact on both of them. But I look forward to more books in the future, this is just one miss for me, in a very long line of hits.

  9. Danielle D
    Jan 26, 2013 @ 06:27:44

    This was not my favorite book in this series, I felt the book was more about Rosie and Andy at times. I’m hoping she does a book on Liz and the Sheriff and Hailey and Max.

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