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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review - - Carolina Man

Carolina Man
Dare Island - Book 3
By Virginia Kantra
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 4, 2014




When his high school sweetheart dumped him and left town, Luke Fletcher was sure he'd never hear from her again.  When family attorney Kate Dolan tracked him down in Afghanistan ten years later, the Marine Staff Sergeant was shocked to discover not only that his former girlfriend had died but that she had left him custody of her ten year old daughter, Taylor.  Their daughter.  A child he hadn't known existed.  Taylor has been living with Luke's parents for the past four months while Luke finished his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Now he's home on leave, trying to get to know this prickly, quiet daughter who is now his responsibility; determined to do the right thing but not quite sure how.  Then there's his daughter's attorney, a buttoned-up woman who holds everyone at a distance but sets off sparks in Luke that he'd be happy to explore.

Hardworking attorney Kate Dolan has dedicated her life to helping women and children in difficult situations. Because Kate is Executor of Taylor's mother's estate but mostly because the dead woman was Kate's employee and friend, she is determined to see that Taylor is placed with the right people.  Based on her own experiences as the daughter of a Marine, Kate is initially not certain Luke Fletcher is the best person for that role. She thinks she knows what to expect when Luke returns from Afghanistan but the reality is vastly different from her expectations.  Instead of the harsh, controlling, short-tempered man she expects, she finds him to be caring, funny, honorable...and desirable.  Oh, so desirable. But while Kate may be willing to indulge in a mutually satisfying affair, she has tall walls around her heart and no idea how to be part of a close, loving family like the Fletchers.  It will take a special man with the patience and insight to see beyond her starchy, aloof exterior to the tender heart beneath to earn Kate's trust and love. Luckily for us, Luke Fletcher is a very special man.

In Carolina Man, Kantra takes readers back to Dare Island and into the heart of the Fletchers, a family quickly becoming one of my fictional favorites.  While this book tells the very satisfying love story of Kate and Luke, there are many layers to this journey; other important threads to follow.  We see the changes that have occurred in the Fletcher family dynamics following the accident that seriously injured Tess (Luke's mother).  We follow the progression Tess has made in her recovery, the changes in her relationships with her husband and children.  We journey with Matt and Allison as well as Meg and Sam as they move toward marriage.  Then there's Matt's son, sixteen-year-old Josh.  It's so enjoyable to watch his journey from a boy to a man. (I'm hoping Kantra will stay on Dare Island long enough to tell his story!)

Josh's relationship with Taylor is especially heartwarming and Luke and Kate hit all the right notes for me but it's Luke and Taylor who completely steal my heart in this story.  Kantra has done a superb job of showing the journey these two take from initial awkwardness to tentative trust to finally accepting love for one another in their hearts.  However, their journey to a happy ending (for Luke, Taylor and Kate) is not without it's share of potholes, including the unveiling of the secret that has plagued Taylor with nightmares since she was first introduced in book one of the series, Carolina Home.

While Carolina Man is able to stand on its own it's because of the continuing threads above that I strongly recommend reading the three books, Carolina Home, Carolina Girl and Carolina Man, in order. When I began reading this series I anticipated a three-book trilogy for the three Fletcher siblings.  By the time I reached the end of Luke's story I knew I was nowhere ready to say good-bye to Dare Island or the people who call it home.  I am so excited to know I won't have to!  Kantra's next book, Carolina Blues will tell the story of hot cop Jack Rossi, Dare Island's sexy Chief of Police.  I've punched my ticket for my next trip to Virginia Kantra's Dare Island.  As long as she keeps setting stories there, I'll keep returning right along with her.  For me, I hope those visits continue for many years to come.

~PJ

*ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Are you reading Virginia Kantra's Dare Island series?  Do you like small-town romances?  What are some of your favorites? 

BONUS GIVEAWAY:  We are giving away a signed set of the first two Dare Island books, Carolina Home and Carolina Girl to a randomly chosen person leaving a comment on today's post.  (U.S. only)  Deadline for leaving a comment is Midnight (EST), March 15th.  


30 comments:

  1. I like Carly Phillips Serendipity series.

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  2. I loved this book! It is one I awaited eagerly and began reading very soon after it was downloaded to my Kindle. Of course, I pre-ordered it. (I've already pre-ordered Carolina Blue, which will be released in October) :) I'm a long-time Kantra fan, and I think Carolina Man may be my favorite among many Kantra keepers.

    I'm also a fan of small-town romances generally and have a long-list of auto-buy series to which I seem to keep adding. In addition to Dare Island, Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold, RaeAnne Thayne's Hope's Crossing, Emily March's Eternity Springs, JoAnn Ross's Shelter Bay are just a few of my favorites, but Robyn Carr tops the list. Even before her Virgin River books started the current explosion of enormously popular small-town romances, her Grace Valley books were on my Carr keeper shelf. I'm really enjoying her Thunder Point books too.

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    1. Count me in for all the authors and series you mentioned, Janga. They are all on my pre-order list as well!

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  3. Haven't read her books, but want to. Was just talking with friends the other day about reading her books. I have 1 I found at library. Love small town romances. Fool's Gold, Virgin River are a couple that I can think of right now

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    1. She writes wonderful books! If you like Carr and Mallery I think you'd definitely like Kantra.

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  4. One of my favorite small town series is Hope Ramsay's Last Chance series.

    Laura
    lranda11 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. I've only read one of the Last Chance books (so far) but I enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by, Laura!

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  5. Nora Roberts is my usual small town romance go-to, but I would love to find more series that invoke that sense of goodness in people. I work retail and often am fed up with people by the end of the week, so rely on books to restore my faith in humanity to get me ready for the next week.

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    1. I would love to find more series that invoke that sense of goodness in people

      In that case, I highly recommend Kantra's Dare Island series.

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  6. I love reading series books.And learning about more of the charactors in the story.I have not read this yet but looking forward to it.

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    1. I hope you love the Fletchers as much as I do, Peggy.

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  7. I love small town romances. I am sorry to say I have not read her work before but will be checking out this series. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome, Quilt Lady. I hope you enjoy the books.

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  8. I have really enjoyed Robyn Carr's 'Virgin River' books and Susan Mallery's 'Fools Gold'.
    With only limited reading time available, is Kantra really good enough to displace Carr and Mallery from my top small town spot.
    With Terri Osburn's Anchor Island also pushing for position, only the very best can do that!

    PJ would it be possible to rate your top three small town authors in order of preference?
    I notice that Janga already has Carr in top spot. LOL

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    1. You don't ask the easy questions, do you! LOL!

      I would also put Carr in my top spot with Kantra and Emily March tied for second. Kantra's backlist is diverse, with category contemporaries, category romantic suspense and single-title paranormal (selkie shifters set on an island off the coast of Maine - all keepers for me). Her Dare Island books comprise her first true small-town series with a strong sense of family and a classic contemporary romance in each book. March's books bring a strong sense of community and friendship and lean more to women's fiction though each book does have a focal romance with a happy ending.

      I don't know that I'm able to name a third place series. There are a few out there that I enjoy immensely including Terri Osburn's Anchor Island as well as the other authors Janga named.

      Not sure if that helped or confused the issue even more! :)

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  9. No, never read this series
    sometimes like small town books like Abbi Glines' Rosemary Beach series

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  10. I really enjoyed Caroline Home and have Carolina Girl and Carolina Man on my to be read list. I am a big fan of the small town series. Like Robyn Carr's stories the best, especially the Thunder Point series. I live in Virginia, so Lily Everett's Sanctuary Island and Terri Osburn's Anchor Island books were favorites.

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    1. I enjoyed Lily Everett's Sanctuary Island. I have the second book, Shoreline Drive but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

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  11. I really love this series. I like Jill Shalvis. I like the home town stuff, but her books also have such chemistry and humor.

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    1. I agree, Trish. Jill Shalvis is one of my favorites too.

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  12. I haven't read the Dare Island series, but I do love small town romances. Some of my favorite small town series are Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis, Fool's Gold by Susan Mallery, and I'm really enjoying the Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins.

    Marcy Shuler

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    1. So many great books out there. I'm excited about the next Blue Heron book, Waiting on You coming out on the 25th!

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  13. I like small town books. Small towns have a special essence of their own, and in a way, they become characters themselves in the books. I have her Children Of The Sea series, but haven't started this one yet. I will get all the books in the series, then sit down and have a marathon read.
    I like Julia Spencer-Flemming's Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Adirondack set series. It is my home area and she does a good job of depicting it. (She spent some of her early years in my hometown, though I didn't known her.) Robyn Carr's Virgin River and new Thunder Point books are a joy to read. I like what I hear about Emily March's Eternity Springs series and Susan Mallery's Fools Gold series. They are on my list to get and read through.

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  14. I love small town books.
    lovesthemets@yahoo.com

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  15. I love the small town books. Especially those that focus around the ocean and in NC.

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  16. Can't think of any small town books right off. I do love them though. Can't wait to read these books, they look really good.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

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  17. Great review! There are a bunch of great small town series. Carly Phillips' Serendipity, Susan Mallery's Fools Gold, Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor. Also, there is a new fairly series by Terri Osburn - Anchor Island, that is really good.

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  18. thanks for the fun post! I'd have to say Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series ;)

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  19. My very smart writer friend, Manda Collins, suggested I read this series.

    Done.

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