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I’m always super excited when a new Susan Mallery book releases and this one is no different.  Check out my review below!

*****

cover38764-mediumSmall-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?

If you are a fan of her “Fool’s Gold” stories, you know Susan Mallery is very adept at giving readers amusing interactions between charming characters – lots of sparkling, funny dialogue to go along with the depth and heart of her storylines.  In the three “Blackberry Island” books, we still get her trademark wit and an engaging romance, but there is also so much more.  Her characters are raw and emotional, dealing with life decisions and introspection. There is still that love story element but the books are more about the characters themselves.  It’s about their growth – their realizations about themselves and their relationships, and how they want to move forward.  Not that that isn’t also in her “Fool’s Gold” books, but for me it plays a bigger part in this series.

With the final book, Evening Stars, we’re given a beautifully compelling exploration of the family dynamic between Nina, her mother and her sister.  All of them are forced to take a look at themselves and how they deal with those around them – their past, their present and what they want for their future. It’s vivid, compelling, heartfelt and complex. Another beautifully crafted and genuine look at people’s faults and strengths, real in its difficulties but uplifting too.

(Mallery’s “Blackberry Island” series has a poignancy to it that isn’t as readily apparent in her “Fool’s Gold” books. I’d classify these as more Women’s Fiction than Romance, so you might keep that in mind.)