Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra

Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra
Series: Dare Island, Book 5
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780425269701
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

After escaping a disastrous marriage, bakery owner Jane Clark has convinced herself that she has everything she needs—her precious son, a thriving business, and a roof over her head. But the arrival of a handsome stranger on the island shows her exactly what she’s been missing…

The only home Gabe Murphy ever had was the Marine Corps. He's working hard to rebuild his life. It will take a special place, and a special woman, to make him want to stay.

Now Gabe is determined to prove that he's worthy of Jane’s trust—and her love. But when her past reappears, that trust will be tested, and Jane and Gabe will have to fight hard to hold onto their love and make their dreams a reality…

Two endearing characters get a shot at happiness they never thought they’d have in Carolina Dreaming. In this fifth Dare Island novel, Virginia Kantra manages to deliver a romance that’s incredibly sweet, but never edges into saccharine territory.

Gabe Murphy is a hero who has been through hell – an abusive home, war, and then jail. Despite all this, Gabe has never broken. He arrives on Dare Island because it’s the home of his best friend and he has nowhere else to go as he tries to put his life back together. Dare Island is like a dream come true for Gabe. Though people are wary of him, they give him a shot to prove himself, which is more than Gabe expects from anyone. Gabe’s past and the way he’s been treated broke my heart, but I loved watching him find a life and a home for the very first time. Best of all, Gabe finds love with bakery owner Jane Clark. Jane’s life hasn’t exactly been easy either. She escaped an abusive marriage and is now a single mom working hard to make a life for herself and her son. Jane has a huge heart and is a soft touch, but she’ll go to the mat to defend those she loves, which makes her a great heroine. She and Gabe just click right off the bat, and it’s easy to be swept away by their romance, which is by turns sensual and sweet.

I have a weakness for small town romances and Carolina Dreaming is a lovely one. Ms. Kantra’s writing style is so smooth that you slip right into the story without noticing, which made the story all the more enjoyable. Dare Island isn’t an idyllic small town (that kind of perfection would be boring), but it’s close enough that you wish it were real so you could move down there. Fans of series will love revisiting some of their favorite characters, but for readers like me who haven’t read the first four Dare Island novels, you needn’t fear – this book can easily be read as a standalone. Of course, I was so hooked by Gabe and Jane’s story that I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. If you enjoy quietly romantic stories with genuinely kind characters, you won’t want to miss Carolina Dreaming.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.