What is there to say about this book? It’s good. It’s really good. It’s a great addition to an already great series. Of course, just saying that it’s good and I think you should read it doesn’t make for much of a review, so I’ll try to elaborate.
Carolina Blues is the fourth addition to the Dare Island series and, honestly, it holds up as well as any of the predecessors. Normally series tend to flag after about three books, but Kantra has kept the momentum up. Firstly, she didn’t attempt to keep trying to squeeze more and more books out of a single family, as many authors have done. Although we get a visit with the characters from the first three books, the focus has shifted away from the Fletcher family and on to two fairly new residents of Dare Island.
Jack Rossi has given up life in the city after a failed marriage, and come to Dare Island to start a new life as police chief. In the six months since his divorce, he hasn’t given much thought to re-entering the dating scene. That is, until he meets Lauren Patterson. Lauren is taking a brief break in Dare Island in order to finish her book. She was part of a hostage situation and has now made a name for herself by telling her heroic story. Her second book isn’t going so well though, and Jack Rossi proves to be the perfect distraction from her writer’s block.
Firstly, I loved this book for the same reason I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Virginia Kantra so far; it is realistic. Dare Island doesn’t feel like some weird, overblown small town where everyone meddles and each character is more obnoxious than the last. Instead, Kantra creates a place that could be any real seaside town populated by normal people. There is a sense of everyone being in each other’s business, which I’ve never understood. I grew up in a small town and I don’t remember things being like that, but I try to be forgiving of that dynamic in romances, since it often serves the story. That said, once things kick off between Jack and Lauren, a lot of that fades away and we’re left with two people, who have been scarred by their pasts, trying to make a relationship work.
There is excellent chemistry between the pair. Jack’s interest in Lauren is immediate and strong. Lauren has a bit of trauma related to cops from her experience as a hostage, but she warms to Jack pretty quickly. Probably the best part of this book was seeing how Lauren and Jack helped each other to move on from their emotional baggage. Lauren comes to see Jack as a person and not just a cop, and is eventually able to come to a breakthrough in her writing and in her plans for the future. As the total opposite of Jack’s ex-wife, Lauren’s openness and sensitivity helps Jack overcome his misgivings about falling in love again.
Although I enjoyed their story, and I found Jack and Lauren to both be interesting, true-to-life characters, Carolina Blues was missing that little extra zing that would’ve pushed this read up to A-level for me. I like a little more emotional turmoil for my characters (I’m a mean reader like that) in order for me to totally love a book, and I didn’t find that here. That said, I think that I can safely say this is a guaranteed enjoyable read for fans of contemporary romance. For those that have followed the Dare Island series thus far, you will not be disappointed at all.
Carolina Blues is a well done read from Ms. Kantra. I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next because I’m sure it will be great as well.