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New Release Audiobook Review! CAROLINA DREAMING by Virginia Kantra (Dare Island #5)

Carolina Dreaming
by Virginia Kantra


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…

Such a good book!

I loved both Gabe and Jane, not to mention Jane’s son Aiden and Gabe’s dog Lucky. This one might possibly be my favorite of the series so far–and it’s not even about a member of the Fletcher family! (Though they do all make an appearance, even Fezzik.) It’s a story all about second chances–Gabe’s trying to start over and finally find a place where he can belong; his “people”, as he tells Aiden in an absolutely heartrending scene. Jane’s working to move past the events from the last series book (Carolina Blues) and is shoring up her bakery with a new extension to counteract the new coffeeshop that will be opening soon.

Somehow their romance manages to feel like a slow buildup, even though the bulk of the story takes place in just three weeks. It never felt rushed, though. Gabe is attracted to her from the beginning, but doesn’t feel as if he’s good enough for her, as if he has enough to offer. Her dad’s attitude (he’s a deputy at the police department) doesn’t help things either. Jane’s hesitant to trust the new guy in town–he reminds her an awful lot of her last mistake, Aiden’s dad, who’s currently in jail for the events of the last book–and of course she’s got Aiden to think of. But Gabe does everything he can to prove he’s nothing like her ex, and soon their attraction bubbles over.

In the bakery’s kitchen. A couple of times 😉

Not only does Gabe do dishes (!), he also has fond memories of the prison’s library. Where he took out books–to read. Be still my beating heart! He didn’t just take out the biggest ones he could find, stuff them in a laundry bag, and use them for weights! (Sorry, it’s been a rough week at work.) Plus, he read and enjoyed Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series–can he get more perfect than that? I think not.

Of course that did make it all the more aggravating when Jane puts the brakes on their relationship–it’s hard to blame her: it’s just been three weeks, Aiden, her ex is due to get out of prison soon, yada yada yada–but still, I kept thinking, but it’s GABE! She made it up to both of us soon, though, and we eventually got our HEA, so it’s all good in the end. 😉

Jane’s dad even got his own side story in this one, which was nice because it made him seem more human than the hard-a$$ he was constantly acting toward Gabe. Plus, I really liked his new lady friend when we met her a book or so ago, and was very glad to see her get her own part in a storyline.

Fingers crossed that the series is going to continue–not only do I love visiting Dare Island, but I’m looking forward to catching glimpses of Gabe and Jane in future books 🙂

It was totally worth the wait for it to come out on audio–Sophie Eastlake did a great job with the narration, as always. Even though it’s the fifth book in the series, it worked just fine as a standalone. Many of the previous books’ stars make appearances, but the only one that had events that really mattered to this one were in book 4; even that was explained enough so that if you hadn’t read it you wouldn’t be lost. (But seriously, read the other books in the series. You won’t be sorry, I promise!)

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

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