Jude Deveraux's Carolina Isle
I've enjoyed Deveraux's novels on and off for many years. They were first recommended to me by a cousin who was enamored with A Knight in Shining Armor, a romantic tale of time travel and true love that has become one of her most beloved novels. I would not go so far as to call any of her works high art but up until Carolina Isle I could at least say that I had enjoyed them thoroughly.
My favorites are the modern day novels featuring the Montgomery and Taggert clans, particularly the twin short stories that have popped up in various anthologies. Even though they are predictable (this is the romance genre, they are all predictable) the characters are well developed and likeable, their adventures mapped out and written with a certain flair which made the books stand above their counterparts at the book store.
Carolina Isle has none of that. From the very first chapter the book the writing is choppy and disorganized, jumpy haphazardly from scene to scene. The characters are more like caricatures and are not developed at all. A series of bizarre events unfolds leading to a pairing of the couples that I saw coming from early on in the book. If Ms. Deveraux's name had not been on the cover of this book, I would not have read it. As it is, I may buy another of her books. The only thing that keeps me from writing her off completely was the enjoyable "Holly," a novel with a climax set on Christmas which I read early last month.
Check out "Holly," the Christmas setting of the last chapter has nothing to do with the wonderful fun of the story, but leave Carolina Isle on the shelf.
I was so disgusted with this book that it became a "give away," a book that I have mentally categorized as one I won't be rereading. I let friends have them and they can either keep them or keep passing them on. The friend who happened to get this little gem found it slightly more redeemable than I did, and even confessed to enjoying it a little. I stand by my review, but felt compelled to update my rant. I have never publicly trashed anything, and this particular entry comes close to being nasty, which is not at all how I feel towards the author. Ms Deveraux has written 31 NYT Bestsellers and I have written nothing. On top of that I have probably read and enjoyed those 31 and more, so one out of 30 odd is really quite forgivable.