CAROLINA GIRL - Virginia Kantra
A Dare Island Novel , Book 2
Berkley Sensation
ISBN: 978-0-425-25122-5
June 2013
Contemporary Romance

Dare Island, South Carolina - Present Day

Meg Fletcher has just returned to New York City after spending time with her recently injured mother, and is ready to dig back into the job that she loves.  Except, her first meeting of the day is with her boss, who promptly fires her.  Meg has always been secure in her job, but now she understands that the platitudes she dispenses when she's laid off people in the past aren't all that comforting on the receiving end.  She goes back to the condo she shares with her boyfriend, Derek, only to find out at the end of the day that he (Chief Financial Officer at the same company) already knows of her dismissal, and is stressed over how this has affected his day.  Things only get worse when he suggests she return to South Carolina and her still convalescing mother to reassess her career options.

Stressed out enough, Meg sure didn't expect to add to that stress by arriving in South Carolina to find Sam Grady waiting to pick her up.  Sam and Meg's brother, Matt, became fast friends pretty much from the moment the Fletchers moved to Dare Island, and Meg nursed a crush on her brother friend for a few years.  Right up until they slept together and he didn't contact her afterwards. Sam is also back on Dare Island, helping to run his father's company while the elder Grady recovers from heart surgery.  While Meg is busy running her parents' inn and helping to care for her niece, Taylor, she keeps getting stuck working with Sam.  There's still an attraction between them, and as Meg remembers what it's like to live in a place where everybody knows everybody else—and cares what happens to them—the differences in her relationship with Derek stand out.  Meg has worked hard to get to where she is in her career, and while she'll have to start over, New York City is where she plans to do that. 

When growing up as a military brat, her family, the Fletchers, always had each other's backs, so it's no surprise that Meg returns to South Carolina despite loving her New York life.  And in CAROLINA GIRL, when she loses her job she pretty much turns right back around and heads back  to her family.  Her mother was in a car accident—hit by a drunk driver—and it'll be awhile until Tess Fletcher is able to run the inn she and her husband own.  Meg's never really wanted to have the same life her mother has, but she finds herself stepping into Tess's shoes, at least temporarily.  Her older brother, Matt, recently fell in love with a local teacher, and her younger brother, Luke, learned that he has a ten year old daughter.  Deployed in Afghanistan, Luke has left Taylor with his parents, so that's one more duty Meg takes on while her mother is still in the hospital.  With all of the stuff going on in her life, the last thing Meg needs is to rehash the past with Sam, unless it's dealing with the confusing feelings she still has for her one time crush. 

A novel that showcases the meaning of family as well as second chances, CAROLINA GIRL is the second book in the Dare Island trilogy.  The first book, CAROLINA HOME, features Matt, who gave up his dreams of college when he became a single father, and his romance with Allison, the new teacher trying to escape her wealthy family's expectations.  It also brings Luke home unexpectedly when he learns of the existence of his daughter.  While Luke is absent in this second story, we get to see a little more of Taylor and her secrets.  Sam has always felt more at home with the Fletchers than his own family, and he's also regretted the way he left things with Meg.  Now that she's back, he fully intends to show her that he's not the same man who left her without a word—and his feelings for her are stronger than ever.   CAROLINA GIRL is a touching story that you won't want to miss.

Jennifer Bishop