- Title: Carolina Dreaming
- Author: Virginia Kantra
- Series: Dare Island #5
- Genre: Contemporary Romance
- Pages: 304
- Published: February 2, 2016 – Berkley
- Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Description: When it comes to love, anything can happen on Dare Island—especially in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.
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… (publisher)
My take: Carolina Dreaming is the fifth book in the Dare Island series. The first three novels involved the three adult children of the Fletcher family. Books four and five are about people in the small island community who have ties to the Fletchers. I liked that the Fletcher family played more than minor roles in Carolina Dreaming.
We got to know Jane a bit in the fourth book, Carolina Blues. She survived an abusive first marriage and several years later is still learning how to get control of her life. She has a seven-year old son and they live with her father. She’s determined to be a strong woman and be the mother to her son that she lacked after her own mother walked away from the family.
Gabe survived a horrible upbringing and then survived Afghanistan. After his discharge he got in trouble with the law somewhere else and needs to start over where almost no one knows him. He was in the Marines with Luke Fletcher who once brought him home to Dare Island after basic training and before going to Afghanistan. He hopes the people who so generously welcomed him at that time will be happy to see him again.
I liked Gabe and Jane’s story. They share so much in common and yet find it so difficult to trust themselves or anyone. Both have been burned in life by people who should have loved them unconditionally. Virginia Kantra’s story is believable and relatable. I especially loved the story of Jane’s son finding commonality with Gabe. It tugged the heartstrings.
Recommended to fans of the author, the Dare Island series and stories about people learning to trust their hearts.