Berkley / June 4, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital
Meet the Fletchers of Dare Island: ambitious Meg, the daughter who never looked back; steady Matt, the son who stayed; and rebel Luke, the Marine who thought he’d never return
Meg Fletcher spent her childhood dreaming of escaping Dare Island—her family’s home for generations. So after she landed a high-powered job in New York City, she left and never looked back. But when she loses both her job and the support of her long-term, live-in boyfriend, she returns home to lick her wounds and reevaluate her life.
Helping out her parents at the family inn, she can’t avoid the reminders of the past she’d rather forget—especially charming and successful Sam Grady, her brother's best friend. Their one disastrous night of teenage passion should have forever killed their childhood attraction, but Sam seems determined to reignite those long-buried embers. As Meg discovers the man he’s become, she’s tempted to open her vulnerable heart to him. But she has no intention of staying on Dare Island—no matter how seductive Sam’s embrace might be.
Three things converged to make Carolina Girl, the second book in the Dare Island series, one of my highly anticipated books of 2013: (1) it is written by Virginia Kantra. I truly enjoy Ms. Kantra’s voice. Her characters are well-fleshed out, multi-dimensional and believable. Her conflicts are genuine and realistic, and her writing is as smooth as silk. (2) the characters introduced in Carolina Dare captured my imagination so I was looking forward to revisiting them; and (3) books about competent heroines attract me like bees to honey.
Surprisingly though, it was the hero Sam who stole the show. Don’t misunderstand me, Meg is extremely appealing; even with her confidence shattered over the loss of her career, and lingering doubts about her six year relationship with boyfriend Derek, she still has an inner core of assurance. In this scene, Meg and her niece are dressed up as pirates for Halloween, when she runs into Sam.
She tossed her head, making her gold hoops sway. She stepped in close and dropped her voice, enjoying his quick intake of breath. “Hey, sailor, she teased, her lips close to her ear. “Is that a belaying pin in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
He expelled his breath on a laugh. “We use cleats now, darling. If you are talking about sailing?”
She drew back and grinned. “Actually, I wouldn’t know a belaying pin from my . . . elbow. I just thought it sounded pirate-y.”
The slashes in his cheeks deepened. “Next time try blunderbuss.”
“Hornpipe,” she countered.
So Meg is pretty great, but Sam, well he is just drool-worthy. He is one of those heroes who almost could have come across as smarmy because he has it all—looks, personality and money. Plus he pulled a hit and run on Meg when they were young. But his hints of vulnerability, his genuine kindness, his caring, his charm, his willingness to own up to his faults and blunders, plus a big splash of chutzpah, all coalesce to form the perfect McDreamy. Early in the story, Sam surprises Meg, when he is the one that comes to pick her up at the airport. Even though she tries to appear immune to his magnetism, it is difficult:
He turned, flashing that you-know-you want-me smile, and even though Meg told herself she was inoculated against his charm, something inside her melted.
His dark hair was a little longer, and his body, in jeans and black Polo shirt, had filled out some since his glory days in high school. But his eyes were the same, green, clear, and sharp as a broken bottle, and his smile could still sell anything to any woman foolish enough to buy. Toothpaste. Unnecessary luxury items. Sex.
Awkward conversation ensues because it has been eighteen years since they interacted in any manner other than inconsequential social banter. Meg retorts that she enjoyed her years traveling.
“Don’t confuse me with my brother,” Meg said. “I like change. I liked being a Marine brat.”
“No ties,” Sam said.
“No baggage. Every school year was a fresh start.”
It wasn’t much of an opening, but he would take what he could get. She wasn’t likely to give him many chances to talk to her alone. Not until they got this out of the way.
He stopped and turned, caging her between the suitcases, trapping her between his body and the side of his truck. Her blue eyes widened.
“You like fresh starts?” Sam said. “Fine. How about one with me?”
There is something about a man that knows what he wants, and has the confidence to ask for it.
Meg is trying to keep her troubles from her family, since they are already plagued with stress, from her mother’s accident, her brother’s deployment overseas, and the pending custody battle over her niece. She escapes outside, and Sam follows her.
“Everything okay out here?”
The same answer she’d given her family. No reason to doubt her.
Except her eyes still swam in the light from the kitchen windows. Her long black lashes were spiky with tears. He felt that inconvenient tug again and drew in his breath.
Not his family, he told himself. Not his problem. “Okay. But I’m here if you need anything.”
She narrowed those shining blue eyes. “Like what?”
He shrugged. “An ear. A Shoulder.”
“Thanks, but ….”
“A full-body naked rubdown.”
That choked a laugh from her. He watched, satisfied, as some of the tension drained from her shoulders.
You got to love a man with a sense of humor, and who also likes to work with his hands.
Not only do you get plenty of McDreamy moments—don’t worry, these are just a few of the examples, there are plenty more inside the covers—you also get to live vicariously through a lively courtship as Sam attempts to excavate himself out of the hole he dug himself into eighteen years ago.
Learn more about or order a copy of Carolina Girl by Virginia Kantra, on sale today:
Leigh Davis, Blogger