Monthly Mini Review
Carolina Heart by Virginia Kantra – C I’ve been a fan of the Dare Island series since the beginning. I was browsing Amazon recently, idly wondering what Virginia Kantra was doing and whether there might be a new book out soon (not that I could see alas) when I came across Carolina Heart and realised that I had missed it.
The story is novella length and it really would have benefited from some further expansion. Cynthie Lodge is a single mother with two daughters from two different dads. I liked how the author showed this heroine unapologetically as deserving a HEA too. She’s perhaps the kind of woman one might easily judge. Certainly society most often does. So it was a lovely surprise to see her get her own book (albeit a novella) and to be treated sympathetically while being true to her story as well. She was married to the father of her first daughter but her second daughter was the result of a drunken one night stand with a soldier whose name she does not know. She loves her daughters and works hard to support them. She’s studying at community college to be a dental hygienist and holding down a job at night waitressing. She’s decided that she has to be a good example for her girls and has no time for men anymore. She won’t be hooking up or bringing random men through her daughter’s lives.
When she stumbles into the path of Max Lewis, she notes straight away he’s good-looking. But, as a professor of marine biology and a man from a wealthy privileged background, he’s not for her and she knows it. Besides, she’s not getting involved in any relationships. She’s too busy and she has her girls to think of.
I’m over at Dear Author with a review of Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra. A delight.
Why I read it: This is one from my personal library.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Jack Rossi is Dare Island’s new police chief. The laid-back North Carolina community is just what he needs to recover from a rocky marriage and a big-city police department. He’s learned his lesson: no more high-profile women or high-pressure jobs. The last thing he wants is an unconventional alt girl rocking his world.
Grad student Lauren Patterson made headlines when she kept a bank robbery from going bad. She’s fled to Dare Island to clear her head and focus on writing her story. However, sexy Jack Rossi is a distraction that’s too hot to ignore, and it’s igniting an affair too combustible to resist—or quit.
But when their pasts come looking for them, Jack and Lauren find themselves fighting for the future they deserve, whatever the price.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): It took me a while to warm up to the Lauren and Jack combination I think. I liked Lauren and Jack separately but for some reason, I didn’t feel their connection or chemistry immediately. By the end of the story I was convinced but unlike the earlier books in the series, I didn’t feel it jumped off the page (or, I should say, the iPod) from the start.
with a recommended read: Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra. My favourite book of the Dare Island series so far.
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.
Why I read it: A well done small town romance is just what I was in the mood for. Plus, I wanted to be caught up on the series before the third book comes out in March.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Home to the Fletcher family for generations, Dare Island is a fishing village rocked by changing times – its traditions slipping away like sands of the North Carolina coast. Single dad and fishing boat captain Matt Fletcher deferred his own dreams to support his innkeeper parents and build a future for his sixteen-year-old son. Matt has learned to weather life’s storms by steering a steady emotional course…and keeping a commitment-free approach to love.
Newcomer Allison Carter came to Dare Island to escape the emotional demands of her wealthy family. The young teacher aims to build a life here, to make a lasting place for herself. She doesn’t want to be another Woman Who Once Dated Matt Fletcher. It’s both tempting and dangerous to believe she can be something more.
Then Matt’s brother Luke makes a sudden return home, with a child of his own – and a request that will change all their lives. With a child’s welfare at stake, Matt must turn to Allison to teach him to let go of the past, open his eyes…and follow his heart.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): This story is in part about the Fletcher family – that arc is unresolved at the end of the book and I gather will be wrapped by by Luke’s story (the book coming out in March). Then each book has a “complete” romantic storyline. Matt is the eldest Fletcher (he’s 36), a single parent to son Josh, now 16. His wife left him when Josh was just a baby and has had basically nothing to do with her son since. Matt dropped out of college to support his wife and son and when his wife left, he moved back to Dare Island where his family have settled. He is passionately committed to his family but leery of relationships. After the devastation that was his marriage and seeing the hurt Josh experienced when at age 8 there was a (small and badly done) attempt by his mother to establish a relationship, he’s determined that he will protect himself and Josh from someone whom they will come to love, only for that person to leave them. He makes a reasonable living as a charter fishing captain, with some commercial fishing in the off season and he has very short term relationships with “summer girls” or off-island people that don’t impact his family.