3-stars. Oh, how I wanted to love this one! Alas, this was more frustrating than entertaining, but it did pull out a redeemable last half. The story itself was too weak for my enjoyment, but Slow Summer Kisses did have some good moments that made it worth finishing.
Shannon Stacey is such a talented author, which is why this book isn't getting just 2-stars from me. She has a way of writing some great scenes and dialogue between her H/h that are captivating and fresh, a talent that does set her apart from other contemporary romance authors. Slow Summer Kisses has several of these great scenes which I enjoyed, but over all they just weren't enough to make this novella into a `must read' winner.
The premise of this story was right up my alley as I looooove cabin romances. Cameron lives alone in a remote cabin on a lake. After dumping his high paying job as a lawyer, and his wife who preferred the good life, he now enjoys the single life and a simple job caring for the local camp grounds. He spends his free time fishing, swimming, watching sports, drinking beer, and sleeping. Then his life is upset by the high strung Anna, a lady who finds herself living in her grandparents cabin next door to Cameron for a few weeks while she regroups after losing her high power job in New York.
The close proximity allows these two to spend plenty of time together, and since they are so remote from civilization they need to offer neighborly help from time to time. But Cameron is not interested in being neighborly, he is interested in being alone and not being troubled by the obnoxious girl next door. ( He knew her as a 10-year old, and thus still believes she must be the same obnoxious person as an adult.)
At times he begrudgingly does offer her help - bringing in her luggage, helping her to the store since she can't drive, and lifting heavy items around her home. But he does it with no grace or dignity, which made him a hard hero to like. In fact, he was a bona fide ASS for the first half of this book. He made it quite clear with his words and body language that she was a burden, and at one point midway in the story he even went as far as telling her "...you're a pain in the ass." (And NOT in a cheeky, humorous way either). T
Sadly, Anna isn't much better. She's rude, ungrateful, and not very friendly either. I found it odd that she would go to a remote cabin with no possible means of transportation while she is there and not even think to pick up groceries on the way. While this made a nice plot-device for her and Cameron to spend time together so she could go shopping with him and he could drive her around, it sure didn't speak to her obsessive planning-ahead skills (that we read about over and over and over!) How could a person be so organized and yet so scattered at the same time? She was a confusing and inconsistent character.
But I haven't even gotten to the parts that really frustrated and thus brought this book down for me. What frustrated me the MOST was their so-called growing attraction to each other as it was based on VAPOR. Their actions toward each other repeatedly spoke loudly that they did not like each other, but yet their inner dialogue repeatedly kept telling the reader how hot they were for each other. WTF? Why?? It was crazy odd that they kept fantasizing about each other, yet when an opportunity to connect arose, they chose to be rude instead of nice thus killing the moment dead in the water.
Would it have killed them to be nice and flirt just a bit so their lusting for each other made some sense to the reader? I didn't see the need for the level of anger and hostility they had for each other. Cameron had no apparent reason to be so rude, yet he just was. Anna had every reason to be nice (as she clearly needed his help), yet she wasn't.
By the second half of the story, both Cameron and Anna started to chill and exchange some nice words (Thank GOD!) - and we even got some cute funny moments to enjoy! But their hostility and aloofness toward each other remained well until the end. The second half of the story they started to connect in a manner enjoyable for a good contemporary romance. They spent some quality time together, exchanged some light hearted and flirtation moments, and (of course) jumped each other's bones repeatedly. Best of all, I could finally start to see what they saw in each other, and for that I was grateful.
Then came the ending. Argh. This is a novella, so I don't expect long drawn out endings, but a sensical one would be nice. I won't spoil the ending, but I can say you'll see it coming a mile away. While they got an HEA, the steps they took felt out of order. If it wasn't for the few good scenes in the last half of the book, this would be a 2-star read.
On a side note, this book had a slight `déjà vu' feeling to RL Mathewson's Neighbors From Hell series where it takes a complete ass-hat neighbor guy and turns him into a desirable hero, but sadly it fell way short in this story. I think this story could have been so much better if only they dropped their anger issues earlier and flirted a bit in the beginning.
Well, despite not loving this one I still can't wait for her next Kowalski book! I haven't given up on her as a `must read' author yet.