Title: Yours to Keep
Author: Shannon Stacey
Publisher: Carina Press
May Contain Spoilers
Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.
Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his "pretend" kisses are…
This is the first Carina pubbed book that I have read, and I’ll tell you right off the bat, it won’t be the last. I don’t know why I waited so long to read one of their titles; Carina is the digital-first imprint that belongs under the Harlequin umbrella, and I have been reading and enjoying Harlequins since the fifth grade. Maybe I was wary because these titles are digital only and I wasn’t ready to embrace that concept. Maybe I thought, incorrectly, that because the books are digital only, that the quality would be lacking. Nope, that’s not the case at all. In fact, some of the Harlequin series romances that I have read recently had typos, and this one only had one that I noticed. The prose is smooth and polished, and the read is solid overall. So there you go; first impressions are often wrong, as I learned after reading Yours to Keep.
This book featured many of my favorite romance tropes; large, interfering families, small towns, big, rambling houses, and a hero and heroine who must pretend that they’re a couple. The reason for Sean and Emma hooking up in the first place was a little weak, though – her grandmother, who has retired to Florida, worries incessantly about Emma living by herself, and Emma is even worried that Gram will sell the house out from under her, so she makes up a boyfriend. The problem? When her grandmother comes to visit, Emma must produce said boyfriend.
Sean has just been released from the military, and after 12 years of people telling him what to do, he wants to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Pretending to be crazy Emma’s fiancée isn’t what he had in mind. Still, when she offers him a temporary job and a roof over his head, he caves. He just makes it very, very clear to her that once her grandmother goes back home to Florida, he is outta there, and he’s not even going to look back.
For me, the strength of Yours to Keep is the bantering that takes place between pretty much everyone in the book. The dialog is snappy, and funny, and it had me laughing out loud a few times. As Emma and Sean spend more time together, they start to get to know each other better, and their relationship developed naturally and convincingly. They are both such likable characters, and even as they deny their attraction and growing feelings for each other, it is so evident in every little thing they did. Neither one of them wanted their relationship to last longer than the month that Emma’s grandmother would be in town, but as the pages kept turning, it became so clear that going their separate ways was going to be an agonizing parting.
If you are looking for a humorous, feel good romance, don’t look any further than Yours to Keep. The characters are charming, the laughs are frequent, and the romance is blazing hot. I was sad to see this one end, because I know that it’s going to be hard to top.
Review copy provided by publisher