Review: Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra

Slumpbuster as defined by Urban Dictionary- When you’re in a slump, you need an easy score to get your confidence back up and break the slump – a slumpbuster.

I have been in a pretty unfortunate reading slump for weeks now.  Other than one advanced copy of a beloved series book, I have been going through the motions.  I have read book after book only because that is what I do – read.  Right now if you asked me the four books I read last week, I honestly couldn’t tell you their names.  So I went in search of a slumpbuster.  I know the technical definition usually has someone looking for the “ugly” pick but I went with “easy” in my definition.  I picked a book and author many people have raved about.  Thankfully, I think I found my slumpbuster.

Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra Dare Island series #1Carolina Home is book one in the Dare Island series.  The first three books are about the Fletcher siblings.  Matt Fletcher is the elder brother and the one that stayed close to home.  He is a fishing boat captain, father of teenage son Josh, and the man who helps everyone.  The Fletcher parents have been married for almost 40 years and have a loving relationship so each child was raised to know what happiness and love can be yet they have not found it for themselves.

Matt married the wrong woman who could not stand up under the pressure of her family and one who left him and their son for a more convenient life.  Matt has never regretted his son and has lived near home, at first to have help, and then to give help with the family inn.  He has casual relationships but never anything that will last because the one relationship that was supposed to last hurt all of them very deeply.

Allison Carter is an outsider to Dare Island.  Outsiders are treated as such and have a hard time getting into the community.  She is a school teacher and teaches Matt’s son, Josh.  She approaches Matt to talk about Josh’s lack of participation in class and homework and ends up finding herself very attracted to the boy’s father.  Allison comes from money and has figured out that teaching is her passion.  She wants to make this new position work and find her place in life.  Her parents do not approve of her work and take every opportunity to point out how she is always trying to save something but never makes it stick.  They are sure this new teaching position is nothing different and take every chance to mess with her and what she is doing.

Matt and Allison don’t fight their attraction very hard.  Allison is warned by several people about Matt’s tendency to serial date but she is resolved to keep things casual.  She doesn’t want to complicate the teacher/dating Josh’s father role either so they will have to tread carefully.  As Matt and Allison fall deeper into like/lust/love many things happen around them.  Matt’s younger brother brings home a daughter he didn’t know he had and then returns to Afghanistan.  Matt’s mother is a serious car accident and spends weeks in the hospital.  Allison’s parents do their best to set her up with other men and sabotage what she has going.  With obstacles at every turn Matt and Allison will have to figure out if they can stick it out or give up on something that could be so good for both of them.

Carolina Home is a wonderful book.  I was immediately sucked into the story and didn’t want to put it down.  At first it seems like it will be a lighthearted contemporary romance but as the story goes on so many emotional elements come into play.  Matt and Allison have to work through duty, old baggage, an age difference and so many more things in order to be together.  At one point Matt pulls a dumb move, thinking he won’t hold Allison in a place his previous wife was so unhappy with.

Her breath deserted her. Her anger died. He was such a good guy, she thought.

Such a dear, good, pigheaded guy.

Happily, the dumb move doesn’t last too long and things are corrected.  I have only one complaint about the book and it is that things seemed to wrap up too quickly.  The story is drawn out so well that I was surprised by the abrupt ending to what seemed like a plot that could have gone on for many more pages.  There are several open storylines that I look forward to reading more about.

It took me about five minutes after I finished this one to download Carolina Girl and start it.  Book 2 is the story of Meg, Matt’s sister and Sam, his best friend.  I have heard it is even better than Carolina Home but I have my doubts because Carolina Home was really good.  I really liked this one and am thankful I gave it a try.  Final grade- B+

Side note on the cover:  I don’t really like it for some reason.  I think it is why I waited so long to pick this book up.  It doesn’t represent the story, to me.

Favorite Quote:

“Dinner?”  Allison grinned, aware of Suzy Warner at a nearby table leaning closer to listen.  “It was wonderful.  His parents are really nice.  His mother made lasagna.”

“There are not the details I was hoping to hear.”

“She gave me her recipe.”

Gail pursed her lips.  “Okay, better.  And then?”

Allison raised her eyebrows.  “How do you know there’s a ‘then’?”

“Because with Matt there usually is.  Also,” Gail added before Allison could take offense, “today you look all sleepy, smug and satisfied.  Kind of like my cat after she’s found a fish head in the garbage.”

Rating: B+
Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra
July 3rd 2012 by Berkley
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  1. TrishJ says

    I love this series. Loved it so much, I made it a quest to read ALL the books I could find by Ms. Kantra. She became another favorite author. And after reading your review, I am going to reread it. Perfect book for a holiday.

    • says

      I held off on reading them. For some reason. And now I can’t think of why so it must not have been a good one!

  2. Readsalot81 says

    Brie from Romance around the Corner got me started on Virginia Kantra’s books and I’m a big fan now :) I started out reading the third book first (Carolina Man) but her books can be read as standalones, and I’m a huge fan of that.

    Lovely review! I have Matt’s and Meg’s stories on my kindle – though I’ve been saving them for when I’m going through a slump.