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Sanctuary Island    by Lily Everett order for
Sanctuary Island
by Lily Everett
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2013 (2013)
Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Ella and Merry Preston haven't seen their mother in fifteen years, not since the day their father removed the teens from their volatile family life. Years of therapy have helped Ella deal with their mother's alcoholism and its aftermath.

These days Ella is all about schedules, stability, her workaholic lifestyle and taking care of her younger sister Merry. Ella is shaken when Merry announces she wants to travel to Sanctuary Island to reconcile with their mother. It's obviously Merry's pregnancy that's triggered her sister's insistence on re-connecting with Jo Ellen.

Never able to begrudge Merry much of anything, Ella agrees to a two week vacation on Sanctuary Island. If Merry should choose to forgive their mother for the hell she'd put them all through, so be it, but Ella knows she'll never walk down that road.

One of the sisters' first island encounters is with Brady Wilkes, a former search and rescue expert, now retired due to grievous injuries. He's less than thrilled upon finding the pair crashing through the island's tranquil serenity. Nor is he impressed by Ella's negative comments about Jo Ellen; she and her horses had all but saved him from his demons.

After Jo Ellen convinces Brady to show Ella the beauty and healing nature of the tiny island, their grudging acquaintance turns into much more. Ella isn't prepared to acknowledge their attraction, however Brady finds he's suddenly willing to put his dark past behind him, if only he can convince Ella to embrace the everyday joys of life on Sanctuary Island - and his love.

The author offers readers an engaging storyline and setting as well as a bevy of well-rounded characters, each of them carrying plenty of heavy emotional baggage. Ella and Grady are the focus of this first Sanctuary Island instalment as both work toward replacing bitterness with forgiveness, and in Ella's case, trust in love.

Sanctuary Island is a pleasing summer read; if you end up enjoying Ella and Grady's story, then look for Merry's story, Shoreline Drive, in early 2014.

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