Evening Stars by Susan Mallery-Review, Q&A and Giveaway
Blackberry Island #3
by Susan Mallery
Genre: contemporary, romance
Release Date: February 25, 2014
ABOUT THE BOOK: 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?
Set in a Pacific Northwest small town on Blackberry Island, this is the interesting and unique story of a young woman (Nina Wentworth) living and working on this small island all her life.
Nina’s mother is dysfunctional, not in a mean or purposeful way. It seems Bonnie Wentworth married as practically a child herself and never seemed to grow up. Left with two children, her husband never returned. Nina, the oldest sister became the adult, taking care of both her mother and sister Averil. Bonnie kept them in money, but Nina took on the responsibility of watching Averil when Bonnie went out of town on “buying trips” as she owned and ran an “antique shop” (well sort of).
Nina had once been in love with a wonderful young man named Dylan Harrington, who had left after he graduated and went to medical school. They had planned that she would graduate high school and join him in medical school and they would become doctors together. Ahhh, young dreams!
Reality happened, after two years of trips back on the weekends, Dylan’s parents convinced him to breakup with Nina, and he put the blame on her not immediately coming to medical school after graduating.
So, after a decade without Dylan and not much if any dating; she finds herself being rescued from the rain by the very one who’d broken her heart all those years ago! He was back, unmarried, and going into practice with his father; not to mention just as handsome, or more so than ever. Nina tried to convince herself she wasn’t interested.
Two days later, while covering a leak on the roof of her house (her mother hadn’t taken care of and said she had) Nina fell literally into the arms of Kyle Eastland. Kyle was 12 when Nina used to babysit for his sister and had a huge crush on her. He’s now a fighter pilot and spending several months in the area, and looked her up.
Okay, that’s the setup…sorry no more spoilers! You absolutely must read this wonderful story for yourself. Here’s your enticement… I laughed, I cried a bit; I screamed and wanted to “shake” people! LOL However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to more from Susan Mallery.
The writing is good, the only issue I have is that I got a little tired of hearing about the problems repeatedly. However, not enough that this book wouldn’t have rated a 4.5 on my scale of 5! Grab your favorite beverage, curl up and enjoy this one! I certainly did.
Copy supplied by the publisher
Reviewed by Georgianna S.
A Conversation with Susan Mallery about Evening Stars
1. Tell us about your newest novel, Evening Stars.
Essentially, Evening Stars is the story of two sisters who have to learn to let go of others’ expectations in order to claim the life they each want. Nina practically raised Averil because their mom took “flaky” to a whole new level. Nina gave up her dream of going to medical school—breaking up with her first love in the process—so she could put Averil through college. But now Averil’s back home, dissatisfied with her career and her marriage. How can Averil be unhappy, Nina wonders, after everything Nina did for her?
Then Nina’s first love moves home to Blackberry Island, and he wants her back. Suddenly, she has the chance to reclaim the life she thought she wanted all those years ago, but at the same time, she’s being tempted by a much younger fighter pilot who also has his eye on her.
Evening Stars is a sometimes painful, often humorous story of moving past regret and reaching for your dreams. My hope is that readers will finish the book with a happy sigh of satisfaction and a new determination to play an active role in their own lives.
2. What inspired you to begin writing women’s fiction stories, after focusing on your popular contemporary romance novels?
Romances are relationship stories, and so are my women’s fiction novels—they’re simply about different relationships. The relationships between sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives… I consider my women’s fiction novels, such as Evening Stars, to be a natural extension of the books I’ve written for years. And because I think love is essential, romance still plays a big role in each of my women’s fiction books.
3. In Evening Stars, who is your favorite character and why?
The character I identify with most strongly is Nina because I share her sense of responsibility for the people I love. As women, we often put a burden on ourselves to take care of everyone in our lives, whether they want us to or not. We want them to make choices that we think will make them happy, and it’s physically painful to us when they behave in what we perceive as self-destructive ways. The lesson that Nina had to learn—and one with which I still sometimes struggle—is that she can’t make choices for anyone but herself. And ultimately, the choices she makes will determine the life she lives.
4. Tell us a little bit about younger sister Averil.
Averil is a good person who has found herself in the uncomfortable position of living someone else’s dream for her life. She went to school where Nina thought she should go. She lives where Nina thought she should live. She likes her job as a magazine writer but isn’t fulfilled by it. She loves her husband but finds herself lying to him about being ready to try for children. She isn’t happy, but she doesn’t know why, and she doesn’t know what she wants. Averil has to go backward—move home to Blackberry Island—before she can move forward.
5. The bonds of sisterhood and family are strong themes featured in Evening Stars. Do you have any siblings, and in what ways are your own family relationships similar or different to the Wentworth’s?
I’m an only child of only children, so not only do I not have any siblings, I don’t have any cousins. I think this is a big part of the reason why “finding family” is a theme that recurs in many of my books. I’ve created my own family through marriage and by developing close, lifelong friendships. Many of my characters are in similar circumstances, building a family by choice, rather than by birth.
Nina and Averil’s relationship was very interesting to me. They are sisters, yes, but in a very real way, they also have a mother/daughter relationship. They’re only four years apart, but when Nina was twelve and Averil was eight, their mother began to leave them alone for weeks at a time while she traveled. So Nina was the one who was responsible for paying the bills, getting dinner on the table. And Nina is the person against whom Averil feels compelled to rebel. They love each other, but they have to restructure their relationship.
6. Your descriptions of Blackberry Island are beautiful and inviting, both in the book and at www.BlackberryIsland.com. What was your inspiration behind the setting?
I live in Seattle, and there are several picturesque islands in the Puget Sound nearby. Blackberry Island isn’t modeled after any of them specifically, but it certainly was inspired by them. Blackberry Island is within commuting distance of Seattle, but in terms of pace of life, it’s a world away. Most people travel to Blackberry Island via ferry, though there is a bridge to the mainland, as well. The island is dotted with wineries and fields of daisies. Readers who want to learn more about Blackberry Island’s history or see pictures can visit the website.
7. Romance also plays an important role in Evening Stars, as Nina unexpectedly finds herself juggling two very different and equally exciting men. Were there any challenges to writing two heroes and deciding which one would claim her heart?
I’m a one-man woman, so it was challenging for me to put myself in Nina’s shoes and date two men. It was challenging for her, too! I mean, how do people handle that kind of thing smoothly? I have no idea. I’d be completely overwhelmed. Nina’s dating dry spell had lasted for years, and suddenly, she has not one but two men romancing her. While it’s exciting, it’s also very nerve-wracking. And, might I say, pretty hysterical at times.
The biggest challenge for me was to try not to telegraph to readers which man—if either—Nina will decide upon. I want readers to take the journey along with her, and I’ll be very interested to hear whether they think Nina made the right decision.
8. Do you have a favorite scene from Evening Stars?
Many. One that comes to mind takes place in Chapter One. Nina’s car has broken down, and it’s pouring rain—which it often does in the Pacific Northwest. She’s in a cellular dead spot on the island, so she can’t call for help. She has no choice but to walk home in the rain. In her Betty Boop nurse’s scrubs, make-up running, wet hair hanging limply into her face, thighs chafing as she trudges down the muddy road… she’s not exactly looking or feeling her best. Which, of course, means that this is when her first love will come back into her life.
Dylan has never looked better. Naturally. Isn’t that just like a man? He’s a doctor, driving a new car that costs more than Nina makes in a year, and he offers her a ride.
Nina keeps walking.
Makes me laugh every time I think of it! I hope it’ll make readers laugh, too. In that moment, I am 100% on Nina’s side. I love her!
9. Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to where you usually write?
My ideal writing space is quiet, filled with light, and my little dog is nearby. I bounce ideas off of her, and she approves them all very enthusiastically. She’s not discerning, but she is encouraging. I’m fortunate to have an office where I write, so unless I’m traveling, I write in my ideal environment. I have a very exacting writing schedule. In order to meet my many deadlines, I need to do everything in my power to nurture my creative needs.
10. Can we look forward to more Blackberry Island stories in the near future, or are you working on any new exciting projects?
Evening Stars is the final book in the Blackberry Island trilogy, but it does lead readers toward a new series I’ll begin in 2015, set in Mischief Bay, California. That’s where Averil and her husband live, so readers will get a small introduction to Mischief Bay in Evening Stars.
On the romance front, I’ll release three Fool’s Gold books in paperback this year—When We Met, Before We Kiss, and Until We Touch—plus an ebook novella, Yours for Christmas.
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.
Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived. Visit Susan online at www.SusanMallery.com.
To celebration Susan Mallery Appreciation Day, Harlequin is offering a paper copy of EVENING STARS to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
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6.. Giveaway runs from February 25 to February 28, 2014