Title: Evening Stars by Susan Mallery
Blackberry Island Series Book Three
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery returns to Blackberry Island with the poignant tale of two sisters on the verge of claiming their dreams.
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?
In Evening Stars, the third installment of Susan Mallery’s heartwarming Blackberry Island series, complicated family dynamics are almost impossible to overcome when Nina Wentworth and her visiting sister Averil find themselves trapped in the roles that have defined them since childhood. Averil is happily married but the prospect of beginning a family leaves her contemplating exactly what she wants out of life. Nina is still taking care of everyone, including her irresponsible mother Bonnie, and when two men from her past unexpectedly reappear, she is forced to re-examine her past choices and take a good hard look at what she wants for her future.
As a child, Nina was thrust into the parental role for both Averil and Bonnie and years later, nothing has changed in that respect. She let go of her dream of becoming a doctor and in the process she also lost her first love, Dylan Harrington. Now Dylan has returned to Blackberry Island to work in his father’s practice and Nina begins to re-evaluate her past. Further complicating her life is the sudden reappearance of Kyle Eastland, a young Navy pilot who has never forgotten his teenage crush on Nina. Now stationed at a nearby base, Kyle is hopeful that he can convince Nina to give him a chance now they are both grown up.
Averil’s unexpected visit is the last thing that Nina needs as she tries to deal with the latest evidence of their mother’s irresponsibility. Averil and Nina love one another but their interactions are laced with misunderstandings and Bonnie’s return just adds more tension to their relationship.
I really liked the contrast in Nina’s relationships with Dylan and Kyle. With Kyle, Nina could just let go and live in the moment. Carefree fun with no expectations or demands which really fit in with Kyle’s personality. He reminded me of a puppy-playful and enthusiastic but lacking maturity.
On the other hand, Dylan is a painful reminder of all that Nina has lost. Their first encounters are uncomfortable and filled with tension until they finally discuss the elephant in the room: their failed youthful romance. It is through these discussions that Nina gains a new perspective on her role in their break up and provides her the opportunity to revisit childhood dreams.
Evening Stars is a beautiful journey of self-discovery for the Wentworth women. Nina and Averil undergo a great deal of soul searching as they contemplate their pasts and in doing so, they are able fully embrace their futures. A lovely conclusion to Susan Mallery’s delightful Blackberry Island series.