New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery returns to Blackberry Island with the poignant tale of two sisters on the verge of claiming their dreams.
Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More "Mom" than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school—and her first love—so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn't exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina's life has suddenly become…complicated.
Nina unexpectedly finds herself juggling two men—her high school sweetheart and a younger maverick pilot who also wants to claim her heart. But as fun as all this romance is, Nina has real life to deal with. Averil doesn't seem to want the great guy she's married to, and doesn't seem to be making headway writing her first book; their mom is living life just as recklessly as she always has; and Nina's starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping out of her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away…until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever.
But before Nina and Averil can reach for the stars, they have to decide what they want. Will Averil stay? Will Nina leave? And what about the men who claim to love them? Does love heal, or will finding their happy ending mean giving up all they've ever wanted?Paperback, 368 pagesPublished February 25th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review
Three and a half stars: A book about finding yourself and grabbing your dreams.
Nora is irritated that she has to run to her mother's antique store after work after the latest employee turned out to be another bad decision. On the drive over, her car stalls and won't restart, and it is just her luck to be in one of the island's cell phone dead zones. As if all that isn't bad enough, it is now raining. Nora must make the hike in the cold rain, but thankfully after a few feet, a rescuer pulls alongside and offers her a ride. Unfortunately, her knight in shining armor is no other than Dylan, her ex boyfriend who broke her heart. Dylan is returning to the island to work in his father's medical practice. As Nora flounders with the mess that her life has become, she wonders why she lost sight of her dreams. Why did she give up on medical school? Why is she forever taking care of her mother and her sister and everyone else? Does she still have feelings for Dylan?
What I Liked:
- This was a pleasant tale of a young woman who has spent her entire life sacrificing her goals and dreams for the sake of others, only to turn around at almost thirty and wonder why she is stuck in a rut. This follows Nora as she learns to let go of the past and finally realize her own dreams, but it is a bit of rough ride to get there. Even though I was expecting this book to have a lighter, cozy feel good tone, I appreciated that it felt realistic as it dealt with every day problems.
- Nora is a character who grew on me. I liked her from the beginning but as I peeled back her layers, I liked her even more. Nora's mother had her when she was practically a child herself. Bonnie had no business being a mother and so most of the responsibilities feel on Nora's shoulder starting at a young age. The problem is that Nora never learned to let go of those burdens and now at twenty eight she is still living at home looking after her mother when she should have cut her ties long ago. This is Nora's story of self discovery as she learns to make amends with her past, her sister, her mother and finally find her path, oh and she just might fall in love again as well.
- Averil, Nora's younger sister, is also going through a bit of a crisis. She is married to a wonderful man, writes for a fashion magazine and she seems to have it all, but then why is she distracted and unhappy? Why doesn't she want to start a family? Aside from Nora, we also get a at peek at Averil's life as she tries to sort through her issues and take responsibility for herself once and for all. It was interesting comparing and contrasting the two sisters and seeing how they interacted. Just like real life sisters, they fought and had plenty of disagreements but at the end of the day, they always had each other's backs.
- I was pleased to see that Nora was living in a non traditional family. Her mother came out when Nora was a teenager and Bertie, her mother's live in lover, moved in. I thought the two lesbians were funny, and I liked the scenes where they poked fun at themselves. Bertie was one of my favorite characters, and I loved they way she interacted with the girls.
- The romance was nice even though it delved into the love triangle territory. I never doubted where it was going to end up, and when it finally got to that sweet happily ever after moment, I was satisfied. I liked that the real romance was slow building and based on a solid friendship.
- I enjoyed spending time in the Blackberry Preserves antique store and learning more about antiques. The store was one of my favorite aspects of the book.
- I appreciate that this is a companion novel series so you can pick them up and read them in any order. You get a complete story and different characters with each novel. So no need to worry about going back and starting at the beginning.
And The Not So Much:
- This was my first experience with this author and I was expecting a lighter, feel good read so I was a bit disappointed that there was actually quite a bit of drama and angst. The two sisters had some big unresolved issues and they were rarely in the same room together when they weren't fighting. It kind of left a negative impression on me. Of course, they work it all out, but it wasn't pleasant to see them constantly bickering.
- As I mentioned, the romance involves a love triangle. It didn't bother me too much because I knew from the first chapter who Nora would end up with, and I was a bit surprised when the second suitor appeared. At first, I was smitten with the second man as he came in and swept Nora off her feet, and his reasons for wanting her were just too cute. After awhile, it was very apparent that their relationship was nothing more than sex and my enthusiasm for him quickly waned. It didn't matter anyway as I always knew where the romance was going, and it was just a matter of time before the love triangle settled out. Luckily, there isn't much drama as far as the love triangle goes.
- I was disappointed that I didn't get that cozy small town feel with this book. I was expecting having this set on a small island that the town would have that charm where everyone knows everyone, but that wasn't the case. There is really nothing mentioned as far as the town goes. The whole story centers around Nora at home, the antique store and at her job. There are hardly any secondary characters either so that small town atmosphere doesn't come through.
- I was fascinated by Cindy Yoo and the difficulties she was experiencing with her mother in law. I wanted to know more about this story line and see a positive outcome. There are a couple of hints that things are looking up for Cindy, but nothing concrete. I wished that more of her story was included.
- I was not a fan of the transitions in the story. This may be corrected in the final copy, but in the advanced copy the story would skip from one paragraph to the next without any indication of a shift. It would change view points or skip ahead in the future from one paragraph to the next making the read a bit jarring.
Evening Stars is a journey of self discovery as two sisters and their mother learn to let go of the past and move forward toward their dreams. Even though this book was a bit more dramatic and it lacked the cozy, small town feeling I was expecting, I enjoyed watching Nora grow and change and fall in love again as she found her way. This is my first experience with Ms. Mallery, and it won't be my last.
"I should probably warn you that wanting is frequently better than having."
"I don't get the age thing. You are what you are. Who cares about the number?"
"Nina shook her head. "This isn't Twilight. I don't have to pick a guy."
"Happiness comes from inside. You can't make anyone happy. That's their choice."
"It seems like just last week I was twenty five. Be careful. You'll wake up tomorrow in your sixties. If you're not happy, now's the time to make changes."
"You can't rewrite history, child. You can only learn from it and move on."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.