Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Carolina Breeze by Denise Hunter

Carolina Breeze

I enjoyed the first book in Denise’s Bluebell Inn Romance series, so I was grateful to read this book about the second of three adult siblings running an inn in North Carolina.

Let’s begin with the summary:

A jilted bride. A struggling innkeeper. And a romantic mountain getaway that changes everything.

Rising Hollywood star Mia Emerson is looking for a safe place to land in the wake of a public breakup and celebrity scandal, and she finds it in the lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina—the location of her canceled honeymoon. She wants nothing more than to hide and wait for the tabloids to die down.

Soon after her arrival at the Bluebell Inn, Mia meets Levi Bennett, who runs the inn along with his two younger sisters. Drawn to one another from the start, Mia trusts Levi to keep her location from the press, and Levi confides in Mia about the precarious financial state of the inn—a secret he’s been keeping from his sisters.

When Mia and Levi discover an old journal that hints at a rare diamond necklace hidden in the inn, they set off on a treasure hunt to find the long-lost heirloom. What they don’t expect to surface are feelings they thought were safely locked away. Mia and Levi must decide if falling in love again is too big a risk—or if it will uncover a treasure of its own instead.

And now, my review:

I love the setting and revisiting characters I’ve come to care about. Levi is a by-the-rules kind of big brother, shouldering the responsibilities of the family’s inn, at least financially, on his own. He’s keeping secrets from his sisters. He's also against dating any of their guests.

Our heroine is an actress, which was a fun profession to follow. Denise does a great job naming male motives, which I appreciated. I liked that they had to fake a relationship for the sake of her PR, but it wasn’t as romantic as it could have been, perhaps due to missed opportunities.

There were a few places where the males didn’t sound like males, and I’m not referring to Alpha versus Beta male POVs. They just sounded syrupy. Overall, the book felt an effort to avoid any type of conflict or danger or trouble. Conflicts were resolved quickly. The characters got over their problems quickly.

Also, unusual for her writing was a lack of well-written romantic scenes. Many of those scenes felt contrived rather than natural. We also had some head-hopping, but that was likely worked out in the later version. There were several clichés in the narrative and/or dialogue that made her characters seem older, in terms of their generation, than they were supposed to be. Some of the conflicts and character reactions also felt contrived and dull, juvenile.

Unfortunately, I also found some redundancies at least in the ARC. The story lost me when the romance seemed to resolve too early. We lost touch with the why-not—why they cannot be together. The external conflicts regarding the inn didn’t keep me hooked. I gave up at about 70 percent.

I'm looking forward to the next book in this series since I enjoyed the first one so much. I wish the author and publisher well. 

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