CAROLINA MAN - Virginia Kantra
A Dare Island Novel - Book 3
Dare Island, North Carolina, Present Day
Staff Sergeant Luke Fletcher was in Afghanistan when he received a letter from lawyer Kate Dolan, informing him that his ex high school girlfriend, now deceased, left behind a daughter: specifically, his daughter. The lawyer requested he contact her and let her know of his intentions. When Luke called Kate, he asked for a paternity test and learned that his ex girlfriend also left him a letter asking him to take care of Taylor, their daughter.
Four months later, Luke is coming home, this time convinced that Taylor is his and determined to get to know her before he is deployed again. Taylor had been staying with her maternal grandparents, but once Luke came into the picture and paternity was established, the court granted temporary custody to Luke's parents until he came home again.
The Fletchers are a warm and loving family, and Luke's parents and siblings have done a great job making Taylor feel welcome. But a new problem has cropped up, and Kate hears of it from a friend in the county Department of Social Services. Taylor's maternal grandparents are challenging Luke's permanent custody of Taylor and claiming he is not able to properly care for his child. Kate drives over to the Fletcher home unaware that Luke has just arrived that same day and advises him that Social Services will have to investigate the matter. A less than auspicious beginning for Luke, to be sure, and Kate feels terrible about the news but tries to detach herself. Given her background, the last step she wants to take is towards a Marine. But she finds herself attracted to Luke, and when they meet again, a spark definitely ignites between them. Neither one is interested in a relationship, but the slow burn between them is not cooling down one bit.
Virginia Kantra is a master at dialogue, and her third entry of the Dare Island series is replete with good lines. The action is not the center of this novel but it is a genuine, heartfelt story which is impossible to put down. Conversations among all of the characters are so finely crafted that it doesn't take long before one feels emotionally attached to them. Luke and Kate are certainly the most fleshed out, but Taylor is equally well developed. We've met many of the Fletcher family in the previous two novels of the series, CAROLINA HOME and CAROLINA GIRL, but we are introduced to several more, which means, hopefully, that we will be able to enjoy future novels about them. No doubt about it, Virginia Kantra is one of my favorites, and I strongly recommend you pick up all three of these novels in this most delightful series.