Evening Stars: A Blackberry Island Novel
Nina Wentworth has spent her life taking care of others. Now a nurse working in a pediatrician's office, she once hoped to attend medical school alongside her love, Dylan Harrington. However, while Dylan became a doctor, Nina settled for a quicker trip through college and a return to her mother's home on Blackberry Island. Bonnie, Nina's mother, has a life partner named Bertie and an antique business called Blackberry Preserves, but despite these trappings as an adult, she continues to be flaky and irresponsible (although also charming and affectionate). Nina feels she must be there to orchestrate the care of the house and the business.
As the story opens, the young woman Bonnie hired to work in Blackberry Preserves has just been caught stealing from the store. It so happens that Bonnie and Bertie are out on the road searching for treasures for the store's inventory, so it falls upon Nina to deal with the problem. After picking up the stolen items at the island's pawnshop, Nina's car dies on her. Naturally, she's in one of the places on the island without cell phone service, so she must start walking for home in the cold rain. As she sloshes through the water, shivering, she is conscious of the way her wet pants are rubbing her thighs, almost guaranteeing a rash.
"The sisters' intertwined stories step right along, and the romantic entanglements add a sweet (and sometimes spicy) note while not overpowering the main plot."
Nina is relieved when a car pulls up beside her, but when she realizes it's Dylan in the car, she tries to refuse a ride. She has heard that Dylan just recently returned to the island to work in his father's practice. She knew she'd run into him sooner or later, but is still smarting from the way he dumped her while he was away at college. Still, he persuades her to accept a ride. She can't refuse when he invites himself into the house, and then is lulled by his good looks and easy manner, until she abruptly comes to her senses. Her life is pitiable; he probably pities her, she decides, and tersely announces that it's too late to visit. Little does she dream that there's another handsome man waiting in the wings, ready to (literally) catch her when she tumbles.
Meanwhile, Averil, Nina's sister, is dealing with another brand of discontent. She enjoys her job writing for a teen magazine and really does love her husband, Kevin. Then why has she agreed that it's time to start a family while continuing to take her hidden birth control pills? When Kevin finds the pills, Averil's vague unhappiness becomes too much to bear. She decides she must return to Blackberry Island to rediscover her life's path. Maybe she will actually begin working on the novel she claims to be penning but can't quite start.
On Blackberry Island, the sisters (plus one adorable pup) begin an intricate relationship dance while each searches for her next step. Can Nina and Averil find and follow their hearts' desires? Their quests are complicated when Bonnie returns home, bearing a discovery with the potential to change everyone's life forever.
EVENING STARS is populated with three-dimensional women grappling with yearnings that feel universal. Nina is a particularly sympathetic character with an appealing self-deprecating sense of humor. The sisters' intertwined stories step right along, and the romantic entanglements add a sweet (and sometimes spicy) note while not overpowering the main plot. Author Susan Mallery is a gifted storyteller who delivers a tale that keeps the reader turning pages until the satisfying conclusion.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on February 28, 2014