Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Baker's Dozen of Reviews: Day Eight--Sea Glass Island

Sea Glass Island By Sherryl Woods Publisher: Harlequin Mira Release Date: June 1, 2013
Samantha Castle, oldest of the three Castle sisters, has returned to Sand Castle Bay, North Carolina, for her sister Emily’s wedding to Boone Dorsett, but this time she may be back for good. Her acting career in New York is fizzling out now that she’s in her mid-thirties and an ever-replenishing supply of younger hopefuls are competing for and winning the commercial shoots and short-term soap opera roles that used to go to Samantha. The passion that once fueled her dream seems to have fizzled as well. These days Samantha finds herself longing for the kind of balance her younger sisters Emily and Gabo have found with fulfilling careers and a man devoted to seeing they live happily ever after. Samantha has a lot of thinking to do, but her sisters have joined that inveterate matchmaker, their grandmother, in pairing maid-of-honor Samantha with Boone’s best friend and best man, physician Ethan Cole, the guy Samantha had a super-size crush on as a teenager.

Ethan Cole doesn’t believe in happily-ever-after for most people, but he’s willing to admit that his pal Boone and Emily Castle have something special. He’s even reluctantly willing to go along with all the wedding hoopla that his role as Boone’s best man dictates, but not even gorgeous, sexy Samantha Castle is going to change his mind about his own love life, or lack thereof, no matter how many times the two of them are manipulated into one another’s company. Boone decided when his fiancée dumped him after he returned from Afghanistan minus a leg that his work at the clinic he operates with his old friend and fellow-vet, Greg Knotts, and his volunteer efforts with Project Pride, a program dedicated to increasing the self-esteem of disabled children and teenagers, would be his focus. No one else is ever going to get close enough to break his heart again.

But there’s just something in the air of Sand Castle Bay that encourages even the unlikeliest dreams of romance. Between Samantha’s determined relatives, the sizzling chemistry between her and Ethan, and Samantha’s own shoot-from-the-hip honesty, Ethan’s determination is soon wavering. If he and Samantha can just trust themselves and their love for one another, they may discover their HEA after all.

Sea Glass Island is the conclusion to the Ocean Breeze trilogy of the prolific Sherryl Woods. Samantha and Ethan, like the rest of the Sand Castle Bay crew, are likeable characters, and it’s easy enough to root for them. But the conflict in the story is strictly a one-note song with Ethan clinging tenaciously to the serene, peaceful life he has built for himself, free from romantic complications and the possibility of more emotional pain. It seems a long time for a man who is so well-adjusted in all other areas to allow his life to be shaped by the rejection of a shallow woman. I was also disappointed that the sibling rivalry issue was resolved so simplistically. Still, it’s a sweet story, and the romances expand to promise not only weddings for the three Castle sisters but also for the widowed Cora Jane and her long-time swain and even a love interest for the sisters’ formerly emotionally distant father.

This trilogy is not Woods’s best work, lacking the complexities and depth of some of her Sweet Magnolias Chesapeake Shores books. But the community is idyllic, the characters appealing, and the sweetness factor high enough to keep the author’s devoted fans happy.

If I were still grading books, this one would be a C-C+ read for me. In my system, that means, it’s an ok read, but not a keeper since I don’t expect to reread it. What puts a book in the C range for you?

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