Review: The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

The Family Gathering is book 3 in the Sullivan’s Crossing series, where I loved book 1, but had some reservations about book 2 (quirky wanderer gave me pause). I’m feeling the love again for this installment.

Dakota needs time to decompress after serving his country, so he visits his sister and brother in Sullivan’s Crossing. Besides building a relationship with his siblings and their families, Dakota starts to build a life in town (he sees it as temporary but come on now).

I very much enjoyed Carr’s customary secondary plot lines that reference past books but don’t depend on them. I also liked that she focused so much on family — because Dakota’s family totally had some issues to resolve! And of course the romance…. well, it’s obvious Sid would be a tough nut to crack. Question is, is Dakota the guy to do it…

As for my favorite part of most books: I won’t tell the hows and whys and wherefores, but after some work, Dakota and his family experience some pretty nice happily ever afters.

-calliope

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Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

This reminded me of Beaches. Yep, the movie. The plot wasn’t the same, but it just had that same kind of feel. 

Sister and cousins all return to a beach house one summer to share memories from their childhood summers, and to spend time with Megan who has cancer. 

The beginning of the book pretty much focuses on Megan and her needs. Then we hear about Charley and her current life problems as they relate to her childhood problems… but Megan kind of fades away in the background. I was like Hey! Don’t forget about that Megan character! 

Sadly, it happened again when we are introduced to Krista, the ex con. Megan is barely mentioned, and Krista totally overshadows the Charley character. I had just gotten invested in Megan and Charley… and they were dropped like a hot potato. 

Carr’s Virgin River series illustrated how to have a developed protagonist as well as an ensemble cast. I was hoping for the same in The Summer That Made Us. Had the character development been more balanced, and had the characters not been such stereotypes, this novel would have an extra star!

I enjoyed the somewhat predictable plot, I appreciated the well-written dialogue, and I was impressed that Robyn Carr still comes up with fresh ideas for new novels. This one just wasn’t for me. 

-calliope

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Review: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Sierra shows up at Sullivan’s Crossing and finds more than just her brother and sister-in-law with welcoming arms. Sierra finds a father figure, some peace of mind, and Connie (Conrad) the firefighter. 

Carr did a wonderful job pacing the romance and the family dynamics, making the relationships realistic as they grew. I liked that Sierra and Connie had a support system, and that the people around them were part of the fabric of the story – not just background characters. 

I’m not exactly a fan of the “quirky drifters appearing at the campground” type setting of these Sullivan’s Crossing books … but the endearing characters make up for it. 

-Calliope 

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Review: What We Find by Robyn Carr

 

Maggie’s a burned out neurosurgeon taking time off at her dad’s campground and shop. Cal is a grieving attorney trying to start a new life for himself. They meet in the worst of circumstances, but find they bring out the best in each other. 

I have always enjoyed Carr’s ability to authentically and unobtrusively write siblings and parents into her novels. Though I read almost everything with a romance slant, I appreciate the relationship between Maggie and her dad. What a father-daughter love story there! Maggie’s mom offers an opportunity to laugh at those who take their children too seriously. Cal’s parents give us a glimpse of mental illness and its effects on family. I drank up every show of affection, each cookie baked, and all the times the children didn’t pass judgement. 

This story is too substantial for me to call it “fluff,” but Carr writes with a straightforward, even keel that makes reading even the dramatic parts effortless on my part. I didn’t really like Cal’s character – dirty camper doesn’t do it for me – but he redeemed himself with his love for the Sullivans. I did like Sullivan’s Crossing and the occasional traipse to Denver. It’s a fun sounding area of the country I’ve never visited. 

I love that this is a true “reader’s” book: each chapter is preceded by a quote just perfect for the scenes ahead. I ate it right up. That, and of course the ending: a happily ever after. 

-calliope

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Review: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis 

  
I never thought I’d love a Jill Shalvis series other than my First Jill Shalvis Series, Lucky Harbor. But I am falling in love all over again. Maybe it’s Cedar Ridge itself – sort of reminds me of Robyn Carr’s town of Virgin River, or maybe it’s the Kincaid brothers, but either way Shalvis has me hooked. 

In Nobody But You, military guy Jacob Kincaid returns home to his estranged twin brother and several other siblings (who are happier to see him than his twin pretends to be). Jacob didn’t realize there was more waiting for him in Cedar Ridge: one spit-fire Sophie Marren, recently divorced from her cheating ex-husband and living in a boat illegally moored at, yup, Jacob’s dock. 

Nobody But You reads total Shalvis: authentic and witty dialogue, lots of affection and competition among siblings, and great views. What sets this story apart from her others is the spice factor. Shalvis describes a lot more bedroom activity than usual, though not a gratuitous sentence in the bunch. Every kiss and caress reflects the passion Sophie and Jacob develop for each other, because of and despite misunderstandings and heartfelt fears of commitment. 

The only question I had at the end was Who’s Next to fall in love in Cedar Ridge now that the Kincaid brothers are taken? 😉 

-calliope 

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Review: Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr

  
Carr’s previous Thunder Point novel impressed me. This one, I’m not so sure. 

As a romance, Wildest Dreams might be a miss. Blake was a great guy and I loved his friendships with Charlie and the other neighbors. But I just didn’t see him falling in love with reserved and cool Lin Su. 

Mainly I don’t think I felt any connection to Lin Su, so it was hard to see her in a romantic light. I believed her as a hard-working mom, fiercely loving her son, but not really as a love interest to an energetic, effusive athlete who pushes boundaries. 

The beginning was more telling than showing, but the dialog and character interaction improved as the book went on. 

As a family drama, Wildest Dreams succeeded. Carr made me cry for Lin Su as a child, not having her real mother, not ever feeling like she belonged. I appreciated the sense of community that Carr built, and addressing the social issues of race and having a baby out of wedlock and adoption and status. 

Robyn Carr is one of my favorite writers, and though it seems she’s moving slightly away from romance in Thunder Point, I will adjust my expectations and look forward to the next novel in the series. 

-calliope

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Review: A New Hope by Robyn Carr

  Chalk it up to summertime, or the mellowness of school break… or let’s just give credit where credit is due and applaud Robyn Carr for establishing the perfect atmosphere in her latest Thunder Point installment. 

Ginger moved to Thunder Point in the last book, and after friends help her settle in, she finds her place in A New Hope. Ginger grieves an old relationship, questions her judgement, and mourns a lost baby. And then she meets Matt, a guy so shattered by his own past that he numbs himself with women and parties. Totally not Ginger’s style. 

Until. 

Until they become friends. And confidantes. And rescuers of each other’s hearts. Carr did an amazing job of pacing the relationship, including family and friends, and making Matt’s regression realistic.  

I love how A New Hope made me feel: relaxed and uplifted, truly full of new hope. And although Carr employed some telling-instead-of-showing, her description of the Basques was fun and endearing. Oh how I wished I was drinking wine and dancing in the fields at harvest time. 

With books seven and eight, Carr has perfected the Thunder Point groove. If you liked the Virgin River series, now is the time to give Thunder Point a try. 

-calliope

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