Evening Stars is the third book in the Blackberry Island series. This is definitely not a typical Susan Mallory book. It's not a romance in the typical sense. It's more of an inside look at Family, friends, life, dreams and love.
Nina Wentworth, first introduced in Blackberry Island Book Two, is a small town nurse who wants to pursue her dreams and the life she forfeited taking care of her sister and her mother. Nina is a strong person, but as the story develops, we learn she is actually vulnerable and afraid to take the risk and let go.
Enter two men from Nina's past to complicate her life even further. There's the younger Navy Aviator, who vowed his love for her...when he was twelve and she was sixteen...who caught her off guard (literally) and offered uncomplicated "fun". Shortly after she begins dating, her first love, having recently returned to the Island, starts campaigning to win her back. Nina, thinking one relationship is casual, not designed for the long haul, and the other merely friendship, finds herself caught between two men who love her.
As with the other Blackberry Island novels, Evening Stars, has additional storylines. Unlike the other novels, these storylines, are all family connected. We meet Nina's younger sister Averil, who initially comes across as a self centered "why me" troubled young wife. Averil returns to Blackberry Island on a journey of self discovery...what does she want...what does she need...and how does her husband fit in? The final storyline focuses on Nina's irresponsible and flighty mother Bonnie and an accidental discovery that could change Nina's world forever.
Susan Mallery seems to have really captured the essence of dysfunctional family dynamics and how they impact us throughout our lives. I really felt for Nina...she is extremely strong on the outside, but lost and conflicted on the inside. She's easy to relate to...not because she became a parent to her mother and sister...but because she is a giving, loving person who sacrifices for her family. Unlike Nina, Averil isn't easy to like or relate to. She's selfish and ungrateful for the sacrifices Nina made. As her story developed, however, it became easier to understand how Averil is a victim of her childhood as much as Nina was. I enjoyed seeing Averil's metamorphosis from spoiled and selfish to caring and responsible. I still don't like Bonnie...and even though she made some positive steps as the story evolved, I found her to be shallow and irresponsible.
Susan Mallery has gone well beyond her typical "romance" genre. Expect to be surprised. This book is an excellent read. It's one of those "can't put it down" stories that stays in your mind well after the last page.