She was the spirited daughter of a North Carolina plantation owner, and he was a poor fisherman who she tutored on the porch of her family's Nags Head cottage. When we last saw Abigail Sinclair and Ben Whimble at the close of "The Outer Banks House," they'd overcome their differences in life stations and defied convention to begin their new life together.
But now it's seven years later, and "Return to the Outer Banks House" finds the couple married and in hard times-riddled by poverty, miscarriages, and weakened family ties. The strong bonds that once held them together have eroded over time, and their marriage threatens to unravel, particularly when relationships from the past and ambitions for the future find their way into the mismatched couple's present predicament.
Can their love survive? Or are the challenges they face insurmountable? "Return to the Outer Banks House" carries readers back to 1875 to answer these questions and explore the ebb and flow of a rocky marriage set against the enchanting North Carolina shoreline. Replete with history, intrigue, and plenty of maritime drama, it's an evocative tale of struggle in the Reconstruction-era South.
I debated whether I should even write a review of this book, for I don't want to turn people off of reading it. It's very well written, with all of the historical ambiance of its predecessor. But I kind of wish I hadn't read this sequel. I loved the first book, The Outer Banks House, and I fell hard for the main characters of Ben and Abbie. They overcame tremendous differences and outside influences and received what I thought was a happily ever after at the end of that book, only it turns out that wasn't the case. I would rather have remembered them happy in their triumph of love over all than to see what became of them in this heartbreaking sequel.
Once again the vivid descriptions of the Outer Banks bring the setting to life and make it as much a part of the story as any of the characters, and the depictions of hard-scrabble island life add to the authenticity. But the story itself is just not what I had hoped for. While I'm sure it is quite realistic in the real world, where fairy-tale endings are not as commonplace as we would hope, I was so disappointed in the direction Ben and Abbie's marriage took and the final resolution of their problems. It left me feeling depressed and disillusioned. I guess I'm supposed to be satisfied with secondary character Eliza's seemingly happy ending, but I never really warmed to her, and so it was not balm enough.
But I don't want to hold my disappointment with the resolution of the story against what is a well-crafted novel since opinions like that are so subjective, thus I'm giving it a more neutral rating. I highly recommend you read the first book--it's wonderful. But if, like me, you are deeply satisfied with that book's ending, and you decide to read the sequel, prepare yourself for the unhappiness to come.
My Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
The Outer Banks House books are on a blog tour!