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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Real People, Real Problems

Love a Little Sideways  - Shannon Stacey

The thing I like best about Shannon Stacey's Kowalskis books is that they aren't full of complicated plots and contrived conflict: there's no big misunderstandings, tortured pasts, dangerous secrets, Navy Seals or serial killers. Stacey writes about real, ordinary people working through real, ordinary problems. With the absurd lengths a lot of contemporary romances go to manufacture conflict these days, Stacey's uncomplicated yet emotionally-compelling plots are refreshingly simple. 

 

Liz Kowalski, the only girl among the five Kowalski kids (the others' stories preceded this book in the series), has moved back to Maine after years in an unsuccessful relationship with a man who took her for granted, and whose wants and needs came first in everything. Now Liz is starting over, determined to find happiness, and that means figuring out what she wants out of life. 

 

Drew is her brother Mitch's best friend, and he's fresh out of a marriage that ended because his ex-wife never wanted kids, and never told him that she didn't. Now, Drew is ready to find a woman who wants what he wants: marriage, home, babies. 

 

Liz and Drew have definite chemistry, but Drew is ready to settle down, like, yesterday, and Liz isn't in any hurry to chain herself to another man after her last long-term disaster. Knowing they're not in the same place, they try to resist the attraction, but neither wants anyone else. It's a real dilemma, and they work through it the way adults do: with honest communication and concessions on both sides. 

 

This is the last of the Kowalski series (I think -- we're out of siblings and cousins), and some of the plot (the camping trip with both the New Hampshire and Maine branches of the family) mostly serves as an excuse to bring back all of the couples from previous books so we can check in on their happy-ever-afters. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend starting with this book if you haven't read the others, though the plot is self-contained and doesn't require knowledge of the previous books to follow.