Dare Island - Book 1
By Virginia Kantra
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Like many young people from Dare Island, Matt Fletcher left for college seventeen years ago with dreams of a life beyond his small hometown but his dreams were derailed when his college sweetheart became pregnant. They married but his rich, pampered wife wasn't ready to set aside her dreams and bailed on Matt, their baby son and their marriage. For a man to whom family is everything, this was completely unthinkable. Matt left school and brought his baby son back to Dare Island and the love and emotional support of his family. Now the captain of a fishing boat, Matt helps his parents with their inn, is a single dad to his sixteen-year-old son and though he enjoys no-strings dates, isn't about to offer his heart up to be trampled upon again...especially not to a gorgeous young woman with the same spoiled background as his ex-wife who, odds are, won't last beyond one winter on the isolated island.
Allison Carter knows she's considered an outsider on Dare Island. After all, most families in the tight knit community have been there for generations while Allison can count her tenure in weeks. But that doesn't mean that the young English teacher won't stay. The daughter of wealthy parents more interested in their social calendar than the happiness of their children, Allison has been searching for a home her whole life and Dare Island is where she plans to put down roots. She knows about Matt Fletcher and his serial dating past and has no interest in becoming another in a long list of "women who once dated Matt Fletcher" but she isn't prepared for the instant attraction to the man when she contacts him about problems his son is having in her class.
Matt sure has no plans to become involved with his son's teacher but circumstances keep bringing them together and the more time they spend with one another, the more they begin to see that there's more to each of them than the preconceived opinions each had of the other and, more importantly, they begin to discover that, together, each of them becomes more. When Matt's troubled young niece, a child none of the Fletchers knew existed, appears on their doorstep, it's Matt who she seems to trust the most and Allison is the person Matt turns to for support and advice, bringing the two of them closer and drawing Allison even deeper into the heart of the Fletcher family. The journey, however, for Matt, Allison and the entire Fletcher family isn't without some some significant bumps along the way, including the unexpected appearance of Allison's controlling, elitist parents and a near-tragedy that shakes the Fletchers to their bones.
I loved this book! While we never lose sight of the fact that this is Matt and Allison's book (and their's is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying story), there's so much more to Carolina Home than only the two of them. There are the people who live in Dare Island, the new and recently returned characters of whom we are sure to see more in upcoming books; the emotionally fragile little girl newly discovered and her tenuous tie to a military father with no clue what to do with her and Matt's son Josh, an engaging young man teetering on the edge of manhood. Then there's the hard-charging, work-til-you-drop executive sister whose life is turned on it's head and finally, at the center, Tess and Tom, a loving couple whose bond is solid as a rock and who are the heart and soul of this strong, supportive, very special family. I fell in love with all of them and can't wait for my next visit. Don't worry about keeping track of all the characters. Each of their roles is necessary to the complete story and Kantra weaves them in and out expertly. They are not characters who only make an introductory appearance to get you ready for future stories. They are essential family members who have a place and purpose and the story would not be complete without them.
While making your reading travel plans this summer, be sure to include a trip to the Carolina coast and Dare Island with Carolina Home. I highly recommend it.
Because I loved this book so much, I'm giving away a copy to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment today. Tell me about your favorite fictional families. What are the books on your summer "must read" list? Have you read Virginia Kantra's books before? Which ones are your favorites? Ever been to the Carolina coast or the Outer Banks? Let's dish!