Review: The Family Gathering

Review: The Family GatheringThe Family Gathering (Sullivan's Crossing, #3) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #3
Published by Mira Books on April 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable and complex family drama combined with a man and a woman reinventing themselves as part of a community. This is a slow burn romance that gives the characters time to get to know one another and fall in love.

THE STORY: Dakota Jones has come to Sullivan’s Crossing after leaving the military. His brother and sister have settled there and Dakota is, for the first time (after years of keeping his distance), feeling the need to be with his family for a while. But a short visit becomes a job and a sense of place and a woman who interests Dakota from the moment that they meet. Sid is the bartender of her brother’s place and she has some serious baggage of her own. A divorce and a breakdown brought Sid to Sullivan’s Crossing and she has made a new life for herself. She’s definitely not interested in a relationship — but Dakota is not a man who gives up easily.

OPINION: What I loved most about this book was the sense of community that the story creates. The stories of the characters intertwine, the book doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of life such as abuse, betrayal, mental illness, substance abuse, divorce, death and adultery. Yet, this book isn’t a downer. Rather, it is about how characters rise above the problems in their lives and truly connect with the other people in their community.

Dakota comes to Sullivan’s Crossing to reunite with his brother and sister who have settled down in the small town. So this story is not just about Dakota finding a romance but also about family dynamics and siblings building adult relationships with one another. We get to see Dakota building a life for himself in a way that includes the possibility of true connection with one another.

Sid is a woman who has already built a new life for herself, but she is also in a limbo. She doesn’t want to risk love, but she ends up finding Dakota’s persistence and kindness irresistible.

The romance between Dakota and Sid is a gentle and slow building thing. I liked that these two really get to know one another as the book progresses. There is a sweetness and a maturity in their romance along with a deep sense of respect and commitment. This is a grown up story and I really liked that.

There are some dramatic moments dealing with family and some outside agitation, but I never felt that it overshadowed the connection and Dakota and Sid are building. It just felt like a part of life.

I really enjoyed seeing the prior couples from the series and also getting an update on Tom and Lola’s romance.

This is truly a community story and we get to see how people fit together. The story is multi-faceted and has lots of layers and complexity. I really enjoyed returning to Sullivan’s Crossing.

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of the series, if you read ANY DAY NOW, this book gives a continuation of the story of Sierra and Connie.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE FAMILY GATHERING is the third book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. While the main romance here is self-contained, this book has various storylines running through it which connect with prior books. I think the book is better read as part of the series although all the information needed is in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Any Day Now

Review: Any Day NowAny Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing, #2) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #2
Published by Mira Books on April 18th 2017
Genres: Commentary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Serious but not dark look at a woman who is trying to rebuild her life and the man she meets who helps her look to the future.  Enjoyable and soul enriching story that focuses on hope and redemption.

THE STORY:  Sierra Jones has come to Sullivan’s Crossing as part of the beginning of her new life.  She comes to be close to her brother (Cal from WHAT WE FIND) as she works on her recovery from addiction.  As she moves day to day in building a new life, she finds herself becoming part of the community and meeting Conrad (Connie) Boyle, a local firefighter with whom she begins spending time.  But even as the future begins to unfold, darkness from Sierra’s part threatens her future.

OPINION:  This is a serious and thoughtful look at a woman who is struggling to rebuild her life and the sweet man who doesn’t want complicated, but can’t help but be attracted to it.

Sierra is a woman who is working hard to recover from her addiction.  This book is unflinching in its portrayal but this isn’t a downer book.  Indeed, this book is about triumph and recovery and hope.  I liked her as a person and I admired her determination to overcome her illness.  I also admire this book for giving Sierra an addiction where there is still stigma.  I can’t help but cringe at reviews which complain about having a main romance character with an addiction — as if such people are not deserving of a happy ending.  I enjoyed flawed characters making their journey through the world.  This book is serious, but not dark.

I great deal of the lightness in this book surrounds Connie who is a gentle, giving soul.  He is an uncomplicated man in that he just wants a happy ending and a family.  Of course, Sierra upends those dreams but he is a good contrast to her and a great support.  (Plus who can resist a sexy firefighter?)

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book takes a serious look at addiction and recovery.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ANY DAY NOW is the second book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series.  While there are overlapping characters, this book reads as a complete standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: What We Find

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: What We FindWhat We Find (Sullivan's Crossing, #1) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #1
Published by MIRA on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

“He was falling in love with her.  It was a terrifying concept.”

FINAL DECISION: I fell right into this story, but for me the most compelling part of the story was the insight into two professional people who reached a crisis in their lives that made them rethink the entire trajectory of their lives.  A story of a deeply personal journey which also includes a romance, I really enjoyed the path these characters take.

THE STORY: Maggie Sullivan is a neurosurgeon who reaches a crisis in her career and her personal life.  This leads her to come to Sullivan’s Crossing where her father resides. Sullivan’s Crossing is a small town located where the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail cross.  While there, Maggie meets a mysterious hiker named Cal Jones. Cal has his own personal struggles and the two develop a friendship and then a romance.

OPINION:  I loved this story, but the romance was only the secondary reason why.  I really felt a connection with both Maggie and Cal who had reached what they thought was success in their personal and professional lives only to have things fall apart on them.  This is the story of how these two people emerge from their shattered lives and build a new personal and professional lives, fall in love and build a new life together.

I think that Carr really nailed the inner journey of these two characters.  Lives in upheaval are sometimes prime places to build bad relationships and I appreciated that these characters know they must find themselves before they are capable to giving themselves to someone else and sharing a new life together.

Carr has a wonderful way of giving her books a special place.  Sullivan’s Crossing feels real and settled and a place that anyone can go to. I love these small town stories because it gives the books a sense of community and there is much humor to be found in small town life.

While I enjoyed the romance, this book felt like a personal journey for two characters.  I felt a connection with each of these people who is asking “what do I want of my life now”.  The romance felt real and natural and special between these two, but I think the personal journey was even more compelling than the romance itself.

WORTH MENTIONING: Carr does quirky little towns so well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHAT WE FIND is the first book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars