Review: Carolina Girl by Virginia Kantra

Posted June 25, 2013 by Ang in 4 stars, Contemporary Romance, Rating A, Reviews Tags: , , ,

Carolina Girl
Author: Virginia Kantra 
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Dare Island #2
ISBN: #978-0425251225
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher

About the book:

     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 Ang is talking about:

     Carolina Girl is a fun, smart, sassy story about second chances, learning to compromise and ultimately learning to trust oneself and those they love. The characters are completely realistic and charming in their own rights; even the secondary characters are well rounded and engaging, adding depth and color to the story without taking anything away. A rarity in the novels I have read lately. For example, I adore Tom, the dad and his no nonsense way about things. Of course this could be because I grew up in a ARMY home and totally relate to ‘the all for one’ attitude throughout Ms. Kantra’s Dare Island novels. I also found sweet, shy Taylor completely engaging and am anxious to learn more about her in the next book.
     Another thing that I thoroughly enjoyed about this novel was the ebb and flow of the writing. Much like the tide of the ocean that the town is centered around, the descriptions and scenery pull you in allowing to see and taste every aspect of this hamlet of a community. For example, there is a place in the novel when Ms. Kantra describes the clouds as the mother of pearl found in an oyster shell, and immediately I found myself sitting on the front porch watching these clouds hover in the sky, tasting the salt air as the tide came in and being sung a lullaby by the gulls as they flew overhead searching for their evening meal. I would venture to say that Ms. Kantra has mastered the art of showing not telling in this novel and I loved it. Anytime I read I want to be transported to a different place, I want to walk the streets with the characters, I want to take a piece of their world way with me and I was given the opportunity to do that with this book.
     I also completely loved the banter and tension between Sam and Meg as they find steady footing and explore what exactly they mean to one another after twenty years. The chemistry is apparent from the moment their hands touch at the luggage carousel. However, the fight Meg puts up to push Sam away as she discovers that allowing herself to have one dream doesn’t mean giving jump another is well written, funny and something I think most can relate too. The idea that there must be balance, and sometimes you have to work for and make your own balance, is a path of discovery we all take at some point.
     I also appreciated that as Meg walks her path of self discovery and works crazy hard at holding on to her present world, Sam works equally hard at helping her discover that sometimes your future is right where you left it, and in this case it is with him. He is not about to let her get away again, and I give him major props for that. I like that we are allowed to see Sam’s vulnerability without it weighing the novel down, but I would have liked to have been inside his head just a bit more. I also would have appreciated slightly more information on his relationship with his dad. It goes from cold to hot so fast that it felt almost fake to me. This could have easily been fixed with a well placed conversation but was glazed over instead making it feel a bit unrealistic to me.
     My one hope for this family is that they all learn to communicate their feelings a bit more. The use of the word “fine” was getting under my skin by the novel’s end. I relate to it because you learn early in a military family to just deal with whatever the issue is without bring the family down or up with your feelings, because emotions can prevent people from doing their job and put them in danger. However, it’s been more than 20 years since they left the Marines, and it is time they learn that emotions aren’t good or bad–they are just feelings, and talking about them with someone can be helpful. I’m hoping Taylor might be the one to bring this about in the next novel.
     Ultimately I love the idea that we can all go home again. Home is different for each of us, It maybe a place, a moment in time or a person, but if we are willing to pay the price and fight for it, we can all go home again and make peace with the past. In that process, we may even get a chance to fix the past and discover our happily ever after. Carolina Girl gives us hope that it is possible if we work for and at it.

Angs Rating:

Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
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