Sanctuary Island by Lily Everett (Amazon Link)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Description: 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 she 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 (Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: Honestly the cover. It's pretty and peaceful looking and when I saw it on the library shelf I decided to give it a try.
My Impression: If I had to describe this book in one word that word would be "healing". The characters - Jo, Grady, Ella, and Merry - have all had rough times in there past and all are in various stages of healing. I really loved how openly Ella's childhood is discussed and how Jo isn't painted as misunderstood or given excuses and she doesn't make excuses for herself. I loved that the first meeting between her and Ella wasn't instantly rainbows and unicorns but took a little while to develop. I also enjoyed watching Grady and Ella's relationship develop. The relationships are really lovely and the setting is beautiful. Sanctuary Island sounds like a beautiful place to visit and I fully intend to come back for Merry's story.
That being said, while Ella's reactions were realistic that didn't necessarily make her likable and I had a hard time really connecting to her. Grady also felt a little one note and I would've liked to learn a little bit more about him than just his scars. I was far more interested in the side characters - especially Merry and Ben - than I was in the main two.
While this wasn't my favorite romance I did enjoy it and the setting alone is worth revisiting. This won't be my last visit to Sanctuary Island.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, I really liked Merry's character and want to see more of her and Sanctuary Island as a whole.
Would I Recommend this Book?: If you like romance/women's fiction this was a good read and I think this is a good setup for the series.