Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own. As the daughter of the lodge’s longtime housekeeper,
Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she’s always been “one of the guys”, her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it’s clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is. Katie’s been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she’s afraid it’s too late.
Giving her heart to a man who can’t wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he’s ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?
Through Netgalley for review by Carina Press
Josh Kowalski has grown up at Northern Star Lodge, the youngest child, and it was assumed that he’d eventually take over the place when their father passed away. Not that anyone ever really gave him a choice. He’s been there for years, running the place pretty much by himself, while his siblings are scattered all over the country, doing their own thing. When Josh breaks his leg and his brothers return to help him run the place, they find that Northern Star Lodge has fallen into disrepair and decide to stay to fix the place up.
Katie has grown up along with the Kowalski kids, daughter of the housekeeper/surrogate mother, Rosie. She’s always been in love with Josh, her best friend, but he is oblivious to it. Everyone else can see, but Katie doesn’t want to irreparably damage her & Josh’s friendship. When Rosie becomes sick, it’s up to Katie to move into NSL to take over her mother’s job at the lodge so that Rosie doesn’t make herself more sick. Katie knows that being in such close proximity to Josh will test her will, but she doesn’t really have a choice. It’s a blessing and a curse being so close to Josh and not being able to show him how she feels.
Josh finally gets the courage to tell his siblings that he is tired of being there alone running the place. They decide to talk about selling it or letting someone else manage it, though there are fewer people staying at NSL these days and there probably won’t be enough money to pay someone else to run it. Regardless of what they decide, Josh knows he wants to leave Whitford, go out into the world, and find out for himself where he belongs. Which leaves Katie less inclined to let him know her true feelings, though she has people behind the scenes trying to get her to be honest with him.
I have been waiting impatiently for Josh’s story since we were first introduced to him in All He Ever Needed. I am such a sucker for a friends to lovers story and this one did not disappoint. It’s completely true that he was OBLIVIOUS and isn’t that just the most fun? His attraction to Katie hit him in the gut and he was completely floored. I love that, through it all, though, Katie wanted to remain his friend and their friendship was always at the forefront of the story. Katie didn’t have to change to get him to notice her, but she remained true to herself. And she never faulted Josh for wanting to leave, it had been his goal all along, but she did kick it up a couple notches, brought on by the encouragement of her friends.
I cannot say enough about Josh, though, because he was loyal to his family and everyone else important to him even though he felt trapped at the lodge. Plus, he was funny and charismatic and sexy, and how can you resist a man who has a woman for a best friend?
And once again, the background characters and the town really add to the story and make it more well-rounded. I really hope they have a story for Max, a transplant to Whitford who is a little mysterious but pretty intuitive.
I definitely recommend this sixth book in the Kowalski series. Josh is probably my favorite brother and it was a satisfying conclusion to the Northern Star Lodge story. Shannon Stacey has become a definite auto-buy author for me and the Kowalskis series would definitely make me preorder any more related to this series (there is still only sister Liz’s story and I have it on good authority that Hailey is getting a book, or at least a background story).