Also by this author: Shoreline Drive, Heartbreak Cove, Close to Home (Sanctuary Island, #5)
Also in this series: Close to Home (Sanctuary Island, #5)
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 30th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
When Ella's sister decides to reunite with their estranged mother, Ella goes along for the ride--it's always been the two Preston girls against the world. But Sanctuary Island, a tiny refuge for wild horses tucked off the Atlantic coast, is more inviting than she ever imagined. And it holds more than one last opportunity to repair their broken family--if Ella can open her carefully guarded heart, there is also the chance for new beginnings. Grady Wilkes is a handyman who can fix anything...except the scars of his own past. When he accepts the task of showing Ella the simple beauties of the island that healed him, he discovers a deep sense of comfort he thought he'd lost. But now he must convince the woman who never intended to stay that on Sanctuary Island, anything is possible--forgiving past mistakes, rediscovering the simple joys of life, and maybe even falling in love.
At its core Sanctuary Island by Lily Everett is a story of love, redemption, and family. It’s a beautifully written story set in the seclusion of an isolated island. You can’t even access the island from mainland which means you have to take the ferry across a vast amount of water to get into the port. The description of the setting is so enchanting. I could imagine every vivid detail … especially the band of wild horses. They stole my heart. When I younger I was all about horses and I don’t think I ever really grew out of that phrase so it was nice to be able to revisit it again. I loved how the wild horses were such a poignant part of the story and how they related to the development of the relationships between all of these characters.
Ella Preston is the main character of Sanctuary Island although her sister Merry plays a rather important supporting role. The two sisters have been on their own most of their lives. Their father, a workaholic, took them and left their mother, an alcoholic, when they were young beginning a cycle of uncertainty. The only thing the two sisters were ever able to rely on was each other, and even after their mother went through rehab for alcoholism and began attempting to contact them again, they refused her pleas to come visit her to reconnect. That is until Merry became an unwed mother-to-be and suddenly found herself wondering about their mother, and wanting to reconnect with her before she became a mother herself. Reluctantly, Ella agrees to go on this journey with her sister, swearing to protect her if anything should happen that may once again break her heart. Of course, she doesn’t exactly think about what this visit may do to herself as her only concern is her very pregnant sister.
What does the island visit bring to Ella? Well, first it brings her an unexpected handsome stranger named Grady. Grady and Ella hit it off right away but their connection is far from just physical. There is a real intimate emotional connection between them. Grady has some scars that he has tried to keep hidden from the rest of the world, and Ella is just the person to break down the walls that he has put up from himself. Likewise, Grady is just the person to push Ella off kilter just enough that she is contemplating changing the path which she has always pushed herself toward – the safer path – the path with a complete plan in front of her. Grady is also just the person to help her figure out that maybe just maybe time does heal all wounds when it comes to her relationship with her mother. I don’t want give too much of it away but trust me when I say the relationship between Ella and Grady is so worth reading about.
The development of the relationship between Ella and her mother Jo Ellen after so many years of estrangement is also worth reading about. Ella is understandably upset regarding what happened between her parents when she was younger, and how she had to take responsibility for her sister at such a young age. She has been through therapy to get through these issues, and although she swears she is over it, you can tell that there is still much resentment there. She is a very strong-willed individual who has a tendency to be a little bit stubborn. Lily Everett did a very good job of laying these emotions for the character of Ella, especially in comparison to her sister who was much younger when the split happened, and more willing accept the olive branch from their mother. Ella, Merry, and Jo Ellen are all equally complex characters, and it was very refreshing to read a romance novel with such female characters inside of it.
I’m so excited that Sanctuary Island is part of a companion series because honestly I’m not ready to let these characters or this setting go yet. There is something really magical about all of it. The second book in the series is Shoreline Drive and is the story of Merry and the snarky veterinarian Ben who also makes an appearance in Sanctuary Island. In fact, there is a bit of preview of the possibility of a romance between the two characters, and if the preview was any indication, I cannot wait to see what happens when the two of them actually find themselves hinting at the possibility of a romance! I can tell it’s going to be so good.