Why I read it: I had this one on my TBR (in paper even!) and I wanted to be caught up on the series by the time Carolina Man releases in March.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Meg Fletcher spent her childhood dreaming of escaping Dare Island-her family’s home for generations. So after she landed a high-powered job in New York City, she left and never looked back. But when she loses both her job and the support of her long-term, live-in boyfriend, she returns home to lick her wounds and reevaluate her life.
Helping out her parents at the family inn, she can’t avoid the reminders of the past she’d rather forget-especially charming and successful Sam Grady, her brother’s best friend. Their one, disastrous night of teenage passion should have forever killed their childhood attraction, but Sam seems determined to reignite those long-buried embers. As Meg discovers the man he’s become, she’s tempted to open her vulnerable heart to him. But she has no intention of staying on Dare Island-no matter how seductive Sam’s embrace might be.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I listened to the first book and listening is a different experience to reading – for one thing, I can read a print book much faster. I took about a day to read Carolina Girl – which meant that I made extra time to read because I was enjoying it and also that it wasn’t taxing. It has an easy style reminiscent of Nora Roberts (as Brie says in her review here). There were a couple of things which disappointed me but overall, it was an enjoyable contemporary small-town romance and I liked it.
Meg and Sam have history together. They have known each other since they were children and one New Year’s when she was 16 and he 18, they had sex. It wasn’t spectacular sex because Sam was drunk and Meg had been a virgin, but it rated better than some of the sex she had in the years afterward. I both did and did not buy their connection. Sam had been Meg’s brother Matt’s best friend growing up and he certainly has a close connection to the Fletcher family. But he hasn’t seen Meg for something like 9 years and they had both changed in that time. It wasn’t a case of falling into familiar patterns, because they had never been adults together. I liked that the story took it’s time in getting the characters together. This is an example of where a writer includes a sex scene in the book because it advances the story and not because a certain number of pages have gone by and that’s the rules. I know this because Meg and Sam don’t get together until quite late in the book, apart from a couple of heated embraces.
Part of the reason is because Meg is still ostensibly with Derek the jerk. Derek the jerk is fairly one-dimensional and it was difficult for me to see why Meg was with him at all. I would have liked to have seen him more nuanced.
I liked the parts with Sam and his family but would have liked a little more exposition of the dynamic rather than what appeared to me to be the fast turnaround in support from his dad to Sam.
I liked the overarching story arc regarding Taylor and Tess and Tom.
The biggest issue I had with the book was that when Meg and Sam finally did get together, there was not much room left in the book and so the story skipped over the development of their relationship as a couple. Literally, there was a page and a half which covered a two week period where things were good. I wanted to see more of that. The central conflict between Meg and Sam is that Meg always intends to go back to New York and Sam is staying on Dare Island. Because it took them so long to get together (which was fair enough and I liked it), the conflict, as important as it was (even though it had been foreshadowed) was also introduced fairly late into the book and then it took almost no time at all (in terms of page count) for everything to come to a head to have the making up and the HEA. I think another 20 or 30 pages would have made the difference for me but as it was, the ending felt rushed.
What else? I liked that Meg sorted out a way forward that worked for her but why is it always the woman doing the compromising? I would dearly love to see a romance where the guy does something rather than leaving it all to the woman.
That said, I liked it and I’m looking forward to reading Carolina Man, the final book in the trilogy. I’ve also picked up a number of Ms. Kantra’s other books to read because I do enjoy her writing style. I think those people who enjoy Shannon Stacey or Nora Roberts will probably enjoy Virginia Kantra books.
Not that Sam had ever even been a boyfriend. More like a spectacular error in judgment. Like a tattoo or a winter invasion of Russia.
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