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.
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.
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