Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra #Review

Posted February 8, 2016 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 17 Comments

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

Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra #Review
Carolina Dreaming

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: #5 Dare Island
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on February 2, 2016
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Get it at: add to goodreads

Each new installment of this series is a return to a warm, cozy place by the sea that loosens my tense muscles, slows down my breathing, and produces deeply content sighs.  The author writes gentle romances with lots of heart and home to them in her small town island setting.

This is book five and while it works better in order, could be read as a standalone or out of order before going back for the previous stories.

The story opens with small bakery owner, Jane Clark, giving the okay on the renovations that will grow her business.  She has struggled and doubted herself after the mistake of marrying a bad boy right out of highschool that abused her and was as shiftless and worthless as her dad tried to warn her.  Returning to live with her dad who has been lonely and nearly silent after her mom left them years ago and young son who struggles with a dad who didn’t want him and is now in jail, starting over, holding her head up, and now gambling that she won’t lose business to the new coffee shop down the road.   Jane will never make the same mistakes from before because they cost her so much so why is she eyeing up the drifter who has come to town and looks so much like her ex?

Gabe Murphy’s life has been a long struggle from growing up in an abusive home in the poor part of Detroit, signing with the Marines and going 6 tours, working the oil fields of South Dakota, and then a stint in jail.  He needs a reset and has decided that he will return to the one place where he got a sense of family and a chance at belonging- with Luke Fletcher’s family and home on Dare Island.  Gabe will regroup and then who knows.  But the chance meeting with the suspicious police officer’s daughter, her kindness in providing him a home-made meal, a stray dog, a young boy who needs a real man’s influence, and a skittish woman who might be his true home if he can let her in and she can find it in her to trust once more.

The story was a gently paced character-driven piece.  Both main characters have had tough pasts and are working to overcome them and hesitatingly reaching out for a chance at a relationship.  I liked that these are everyday people set in an any place little town though it’s lovely that the town is an island on the coast of the Carolinas.

The main story is not told in isolation as characters from the town and from past books are part of it all.  Loved the secondary romance thread with Jane’s dad and the police dispatcher.  Hope that continues into the next book.  The focus is Gabe and Jane’s romance, but it includes Jane’s young son who Gabe also slowly develops a relationship with as they discuss some hard things that they share as part of their pasts and present.

I enjoy the blend of sweet and spicy in the romance.  Gabe and Jane both have reasons to be cautious and they make sense, but the pair are drawn to each other.  Jane may not want anything long term, but this girl goes for what she wants with a gusto.  Oh my, that seductive dinner she orchestrated was delectable.  And who could blame her?  Gabe was powerfully built, sweating over the construction renovation project for her bakery and she had to watch the man in action day in and day out.  And it wasn’t like Gabe was oblivious to Jane’s well-endowed curvy charms.

Oh yes, this was a sweet morsel that I would recommend to anyone looking for heartwarming, yet spicy contemporary romance.  Looking forward to my next visit to Dare Island.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #45 CR
Literary Pickers #44 toolbelt
Books N Tunes #8 Beyonce’s Trust in Me

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • I read the first one in the series 🙂 And liked it

    • I am undisciplined. I started with book three. I still need to go back for one and two.

  • That definitely sounds like a sweet romance.

    • It was. I like how she makes them passionate people, but the romance is a progression of sweet moments, too.

  • That definitely sounds like a sweet romance.

  • Why have I never heard of this series?! Definitely, my type of read. I’ll have to look into this.

    • I started with her paranormals years ago and even in that genre, she’s low-profile. I happened to notice a gorgeous cover at a library sale and then I checked it out and voila. 😉

  • That cover caught my attention when I spotted it in my facebook feed with the dog, the couple and the soft cozy feel of it. And Jane is a bakery owner that sounds like the type of character I like to read about. Sounds like these tow had a rough past and have got some healing to do. I like these kind of character driven stories when I am in the mood for them. And I like the sound of how it takes place in the small town setting and there’s a secondary romance plot too. Great review

    • I’ve read three novels and one novella from the series and they have each had a gentle small town romance, troubled pasts, and tough, but low angst stories. I still need to go back for the first two books. They are nice when I’m in the mood for a mellow story.

      • I added the first book to my to-read list :). It sounds like a good series and I like romances with low angst.

        • You might actually get to book one before I do. Haha!

  • Debbie Haupt

    Great review Sophia and I haven’t read any Kantra for a few years

    • She slides below the radar a lot, I think.

  • I do occasionally read a sweet cozy romance. This one sounds like a good one. Glad you enjoyed!

    • This was a cozy one that was a good change up between my suspense and paranormals. I like this series a lot when I want something relaxing.

  • oh I love your review of this one!! I like the mix of sweet and spicy…it adds more character to the romance.

    • Yes, this author knows how to get that balance and have a gentle pace not get too slow and boring.