••☆••*´¨`*•.☆••3.5 stars ☆••*´¨`*•.☆
What it’s all about:
When it comes to love, anything can happen on Dare Island—
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.
Carolina Dreaming is the fifth book in Viginia Kantra’s Dare Island series. It’s an entertaining light read. While some characters carry over from prior books, Carolina Dreaming is easily read as a standalone novel.
The main characters are likable and empathetic; nothing is over-dramatized. Jane is a bakery owner and life-long Island resident of Dare Island, and Gabe is a former Marine who has had a major setback after leaving the Corps. Ms. Kantra slowly developed both her main characters and their relationship. I liked seeing their relationship grow from acquaintance to friendship before a romantic relationship began. It’s a much more realistic flow for a lasting relationship. Initially, Jane seems a bit fragile, but she is loved by the community for her kindness and caring. Gabe, who is struggling with issues from his childhood that subsequently lead to trouble after his release from the Marine Corps, rightly assumes that people on the small island will judge him harshly. He has a lot of baggage from his childhood, but he fully owns his errors in judgment. Their individual inner strength and core values eventually become apparent.
The book is leisurely paced, not quite like “island time” but close. The story is more about the development of Jane’s and Gabe’s relationship than any event on the island. Being an adult contemporary romance, there are a couple sexy scenes, but they are tastefully written, and there is no teenage angst! The conflicts that Jane and Gabe must surmount are, for the most part, realistic, and somewhat conveniently overcome at the book’s culmination. Their biggest problems—Gabe’s acceptance by Jane’s family and her trust issues—are thoughtfully addressed over time. We all know that building trust and proving yourself do take time and perseverance, and Virginia Kantra has admirably reflected that Carolina Dreaming.
Overall, I was delighted to read a realistic romance that did not contain instant love, extreme drama or billionaire bailout solutions. Carolina Dreaming is a nice look into life on a small island where everybody knows your name and rumors about newcomers flow easily. It’s a good vacation book—a light escape from reality.