Evening Stars (Blackberry Island)
About the Book:
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?
I like this series and so far, this has been my favorite book in it. Unlike many series romances, this one is not littered with characters from other books--a few are mentioned but except for Andi, who is Nina's boss, none play anything but a peripheral role in this book.
I've heard it said that if you want to give people wings, you have to give them roots. The problem for Nina and Averil is that their mother didn't give them roots. Their mother wasn't ready to be a mom and is one of those people who never wanted to grow up, and didn't. Nina was the oldest, and like the stereotypical oldest child, is steady, responsible and reliable. As noted above, she's been more of a mother to Averil than what their mother has been. Despite that, Averil finds it difficult to set goals and stick to them. She's afraid of failure and even though she has a good life, she keeps waiting for something to go wrong. She lacks the root of self-confidence and competency that a good parent should have given her. Nina has always bailed her out so she isn't sure she can do it by herself.
Nina seems too rooted, but like the roots under the foundation of a house which will eventually cause the death of the tree, Nina's roots seem deep but are not life-giving. She feels trapped by circumstances; if she leaves, who will take care of it? Then one day a new man comes into her life. Well, he's not exactly new; she babysat his sister when they were younger, but he is definitely younger than she is. He makes it clear he is looking for a short-term fling and Nina decides to go along for the ride. Oh, and then her high school sweetheart ends up back in town. Good old Mr. Reliable vs Mr. Heartthrob. Who gets the girl? Mr. Heartthrob is a Navy pilot. I've never known any Navy pilots, but back in my college days I used to date Air Force student pilots and like Nina's friend, they drove sports cars, were in good shape, and were very self-confident and liked talking about airplanes.
I guess because I am the responsible older child I identified with Nina even though I haven't given up my dreams the way she did--or have I? I think most of us who have reached a certain age can look back at decisions we have made and wonder whether things would have been better had we make different choices, but on the whole I"m happy with my life; Nina isn't happy with hers.
For those who are interested, there is a lot of premarital intimacy in the book but we are left outside the bedroom. Strangely enough, the only couple whose intimacy we get to watch at all is married; for some reason in some books it seems like the only couple we don't watch in bed is the married one.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley and Edelweiss. Grade: B+