Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra (Dare Island #5)

Carolina Dreaming by Virginia KantraAvailable: Feb 2, 2016 Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Loveswept

My Copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Pam

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…

This is the fifth book in the wonderfully written Dare Island series. I have enjoyed these books from the beginning; the drama and romance in this series has always been a treat for me to read.

Jane Clark is the owner of a bakery and coffee shop on the island. She is a single mother who lives with her father and son, Aiden. Her father is a police officer who is very protective of Jane and when a stranger comes to town, his first action is to encourage him to leave. Her father knows Jane has always fallen for the bad boy, which did not work well in her marriage and Gabe is exactly what Jane does not need, but she has a hard time denying her attraction.

Gabe Murphy is a former marine who has recently come out of a bad situation that still haunts him. He travels to Dare Island because his good friend Luke lives there with his family. This island is one of the few places in the world where Gabe learned the definition of family when he saw the large Fletcher gang; this is something he strives for in his life. As Gabe tries to re-start his life, he finds an attraction he can’t afford to pursue, Jane should be off limits to him but he can’t seem to stay away.

This is another winner for this series, the development of each character since the beginning makes you feel like part of this extended family. I tend to stay away from former inmate stories, but this one captured my heart and Gabe is perfect as the hero.

Jane has lived on the island all her life and has enjoyed the protection of her father who was her sole support. She married at a young age against her father’s wishes but loves her son Aiden and is bound and determined to provide a good home for him. It is interesting to hear her talk about the type of man she is attracted to, the exact same person that walks in her door one afternoon, Gabe. And as hard as she tries, she can’t get over him.

Gabe looks like trouble when he enters town and the first person he meets is the local sheriff who warns him away, saying it might be a good idea for him to turn around. But you can feel the yearning in his heart, he found a family here and it is almost as if he needs to be near Luke’s family for survival. Although he was acquitted for a death that was self-defense, he still spent time in jail and still carries it with him. He is sexy as hell and full of compassion as he takes in a stray dog and connects so well with Aiden, he truly wants to overturn his life. The two together ignite with chemistry, and when they find themselves alone, which is rare, there are sparks.

The pace of the story works well as we watch the development of Jane and Gabe’s relationship grow. I like how we see several characters from previous books again, however many are not key to the story. There is a small secondary story that features Jane’s father and the admin who works at the sheriff’s office Marta, they have danced around each other in several books and I was happy to see them together. I did not care much for the ex-husband’s story plot when he came back to the island, it felt rushed and not really a part of the overall storyline. Although this is the fifth book in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone, the author introduces anyone from other books with ease to keep a reader informed. This is another great story for those who enjoy a contemporary romance that will lift your heart.

I give Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra 4 stars!

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