Category Archives: Dare


Douglas Quinn. Swan’s Landing. Elizabeth City, N.C. : White Heron Press, 2012.

In this the third novel in the Webb Sawyer mystery series, Webb’s son Preston has moved from the Outer Banks to New Zealand, but Preston’s ex-girlfriend, Sunshine Bledsoe, still keeps in touch with Webb.  Sunshine is aptly named–she’s a pretty, cheerful young woman whose sunny nature belies her difficult family life.  When Sunshine’s parents divorced, her dad moved to Richmond, but her mother, a recovering drug addict, remained in the area.  Isabeau and Sunshine’s relationship is a reverse of the traditional mother-daughter one: it is Sunshine who checks in on Isabeau, a waitress with a tenuous hold on financial and emotional stability.

As this novel opens, Sunshine is convinced that her mother is in trouble.  Isabeau’s employer, restaurant owner Amy Overton, has a note from Isabeau saying that  she’s taking a few weeks off for a vacation, but Sunshine doesn’t think her mom had the money for a trip.  Initially, Webb is not inclined to take Isabeau’s disappearance very seriously. Webb is more interested in working on his off-again, on-again relationship with pub owner Nan Ftorek, which is now back on.  Still, Sunshine is someone he is fond of and when he learns that another of Ms. Overton’s employees is also missing, his investigation kicks into high gear.  Webb follows a twisted trail that involves a shady minister, a local developer with a past, and a sadistic cop.  The body count gets high before Webb and the local sheriff bring the bad guys and their enablers to justice.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Quinn, Douglas

Virginia Kantra. Carolina Home. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2012.

In Carolina Home, the first novel in Virginia Kantra’s Dare Island series, readers are introduced to the Fletcher family. Tom Fletcher, the family’s patriarch, is a former Marine and retired fishman.  Tom and his wife Tess now run an inn on the island.  Tom’s family has been on the island for generations.  Tess was a Chicago girl whom Tom met when he was in service, but she took to the island and happily raised her family there.  She is a rock to her family, always ready to share love and to adjust the family’s resources to accommodate one of her children’s needs.  As she did many years ago when her college-age son Matt came back from North Carolina State with a baby and a broken heart.

Matt’s baby, Josh,  is now a teenager, bright but indifferent to school work.  Josh’s language arts teacher, Allison Carter, a newcomer to the island, hopes to break through his indifference, but it is Matt, not Josh, who is interested in this attractive woman.  Carolina Home focuses on the romantic dance between Allison and Matt.  She’s trying to break free from her wealthy parents, be a good teacher, and not make waves at her new workplace.  Matt hasn’t had the time or the inclination to have a serious romance–he’s been raising his son, running a charter fishing business, and happily enjoying a series of summer romances with women who leave for the mainland at the season’s end.  Matt doesn’t understand Allison’s fear of gossip any better than he understands why he feels that this woman may not be like all the others.  The outline of the story is a familiar one, but Kantra fills it in in a charming way.  The classroom discussions of The Scarlet Letter will bring smiles to many readers’ faces, and Hawthorne’s old classic has relevance to the character’s lives.

While Matt and Allison are the focus of this novel, it is easy to discern that other members of the Fletcher family–mother Tess, sister Meg, who lives in New York, brother Luke, a Marine, and the newest family member–Luke’s ten year old daughter Taylor (unknown to the Fletchers until her mother died)–will play more central roles in future books in this series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Dare, Kantra, Virginia, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Joseph L. S. Terrell. Tide of Darkness. Rock Hill, SC: Bella Rosa Books, 2010.

Harrison Weaver is a writer whose stories have been published in a  number of true crime magazines.  But Weaver is tired of murder and the lowlifes and psychos he meets in his work, so he’s getting away from it all by renting a house on the Outer Banks. Unfortunately for Weaver, he arrives in Manteo just as the body of Sally Jean Pearson is found.  Sally was a college student, in Manteo for the summer working as a stage hand and extra in The Lost Colony production.

Sally’s murder is eerily similar to the murder of another Lost Colony actress four years earlier.  Weaver wrote about that murder, making both friends and enemies in the process. Manteo has changed little in the past four years, and soon the investigative team that worked on the first murder is together again to work on the Pearson case.  Weaver’s buddy, SBI Agent Thomas Twiddy, is back, but so is Rick Schweikert, the county prosecutor who has it out for Weaver.  Schweikert and some other locals think it’s just too much of a coincidence that Weaver arrived in town the day Pearson’s body was found–could it be that the crime writer knows something the local police don’t?  When a sheriff’s deputy leads people to think that Twiddy and Weaver are about to break both cases open, Weaver finds himself in danger.  But before long it’s clear that the killer feels backed into a corner and that Weaver is not the only one whose life is in danger as this novel moves to a dramatic conclusion.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Terrell, Joseph L. S.

Diane Chamberlain. Keeper of the Light Trilogy.

Set in the fictional Outer Banks town of Kiss River, Diane Chamberlain’s trilogy explores love, loss, and the power our loved ones have over our hearts and mind, even after death. The trilogy centers on the four members of the O’Neill family: father Alec, mother Annie, and the children Clay and Lacey. Although Annie O’Neill is tragically murdered in the opening pages of Keeper of the Light, her presence remains a main character throughout the entire trilogy, inspiring and at times haunting those who survived her passing. Not least of these is her daugher, Lacey. Thirteen at the time of her mother’s violent death, we watch Lacey grow from a rebellious, grieving teenager into a thoughtful young artist who must eventually grapple with motherhood in her turn. Although the books are set around new characters who come into the O’Neills’ lives, the trilogy remains focused on this family, their struggles to overcome Annie’s death, and the compelling lighthouse on the fictional Kiss River.

Author Diane Chamberlain


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Filed under 1990-1999, 2000-2009, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Series

Diane Chamberlain. Keeper of the Light. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

In this first installment of a trilogy set in the fictional town of Kiss River on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Chamberlain introduces her readers to the O’Neill family. A talented artist, Annie Chase O’Neill is revered by the locals. Playfully known as Saint Anne, her light, energy, and caring for others has given unfathomable gifts to the community. Dr. Olivia Simon, new to the area, has never met the famed Saint Anne, and is shocked to realize that the woman’s heart she literally holds in her hand one fateful Christmas Eve at the Kiss River Emergency Room belongs to her. Shot directly through the heart, Olivia knows immediately that the only chance to save the woman’s life is to attempt surgery, even though her staff would feel more comfortable air-lifting Annie to a larger facility. In spite of all of Olivia’s best efforts, Annie dies on the table, leaving behind a grieving husband and children. But this is just the beginning.

Olivia’s journalist husband, Paul, has been obsessed with Annie ever since he and Olivia moved to Kiss River from Washington, DC. Olivia thinks that his fixation began with an interview he did with Annie for the local paper, but as this story unfolds through present revelations and past reflection, we find that Paul and Annie’s relationship went much deeper than Olivia knew. Olivia’s marriage in ruins, the situation is further complicated when Annie’s handsome widower, Alec O’Neill, comes looking for answers about that night in the ER. Soon a complicated love square forms between Olivia, Alec, Paul, and Annie’s shade. In the center of it all is the Kiss River Lighthouse: a symbol of all that Annie loved and was. The lighthouse is scheduled to be moved in order to make way for construction, and both Alec and Paul throw themselves into the committee dedicated to saving it. Meanwhile, Olivia slips further and further into Annie’s life, becoming obsessed with understanding what made this woman so special. As the three adults circle slowly around Annie’s memory, it becomes increasingly clear that Annie and Alec’s troubled 14-year-old daughter Lacey, the spitting image of her murdered mother, is the one they should be watching.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.


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Filed under 1990-1999, 1992, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Joyce and Jim Lavene. A Spirited Gift. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.

October 15th is always a hard day for Dae O’Donnell because it is the anniversary of her mother’s death. Although she makes time for her annual séance in an attempt to make contact with her mother, Dae has pressing matters to attend to. This is also the first day of the Mayors’ Conference Weekend, Dae’s brainchild that brings twenty mayors to Duck, North Carolina, to discuss issues that affect their coastal communities.

Things are off to a great start at the Blue Whale Inn (which, incidentally, Dae’s boyfriend Kevin Brickman runs) with the politicians happily mingling.  But Mother Nature has a different plan. What started as a little bit of rain has suddenly turned into a full-force hurricane, wrecking havoc all along the Outer Banks. Although everyone is supposed to be safe and sound at the Blue Whale, one mayor is missing: Sandi Foxx, Manteo’s flirtatious leader. When Dae finds Sandi’s diamond and ruby ring and thanks to her psychic abilities “feels” Sandi’s fear right before she lost it, she begins to worry for Sandi’s safety.

The next day, Dae discovers Sandi’s body in a shed, and in the midst of the clean-up from the hurricane, the town of Duck undergoes a murder investigation. As mayor, Dae tries to stay involved, and she has help from an unusual source: the ghost of Rafe Masterson, a distant relative and a pirate. With Rafe’s insight and prodding, Dae is able to find out who is disrupting her quiet community and to right some centuries-old wrongs.

This is the third Missing Pieces Mystery.  To start the series at the beginning, read A Spirited Gift.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Lavene, Jim and Joyce, Mystery, Novels in Series

Joyce and Jim Lavene. A Touch of Gold. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.

Life in Duck, North Carolina, during the off season can be slow for the residents of this Outer Banks hamlet. Although the town is fairly small, its history, lore, and spirit more than make up for its size. The quiet of the off season suddenly changes when the Duck Historical Museum explodes. All of the relics–some centuries-old–are destroyed, but that is not the only loss to the community. The greatest tragedy in this strange event is the death of Max Caudle, museum curator and Duck expert, who perished in the blast.  Dae O’Donnell, mayor of Duck and close friend of Max is heartbroken – and oddly affected. Dae, who had been helping Max with a program for school children just before the explosion, was very close to the building before it went up in flames. Now, in addition to her ability to help people find lost objects just by touching them, Dae can “see” the history of things.

Law enforcement officials in Duck think that they have a solid suspect in the arson and the murder of Max until that person is found dead. Later Max’s widow’s home is destroyed. Using her powerful gift, Dae, with the help of ex-FBI agent and beau Kevin Brickman, tries to discover who is wrecking havoc on the coastal village. Their investigation takes them into many aspects of Duck’s past, including long-buried family secrets and gold.

A Touch of Gold is the second novel in the “Missing Pieces Mystery” series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Lavene, Jim and Joyce, Mystery, Novels in Series

Mary Flinn. Second Time’s a Charm. New York: Aviva, 2011.


The title removes any suspense that this novel might have had, but Second Time’s a Charm is nonetheless an engaging, enjoyable read.  Stacie Edmonds was burned by her first husband, Rick, a good-looking runaround with a cocaine habit.  Stacie came out of that marriage with her restaurant, the Sound Side, but also with a fear of betrayal and a disinclination to trust her heart to another man.  Tyson Garrett, the chef at the Sound Side, loves Stacie and wants her to see that he is not like Rick.  The novel follows the development of their relationship through a series of challenges–a vengeful former employee, a hurricane, a fragile pregnancy, and a meltdown by Rick, who still lives nearby.  A large cast of characters populate the novel–friends, family members, local characters, and staff from the Sound Side.  The Sound Side itself is almost a character; readers will get a sense of the varied work and the camaraderie  that make a restaurant successful.

Kyle Davis and Chelsea Davenport, the main characters in Ms. Flinn’s first book, The One, have minor roles in this story.  The two will be back as the main characters in the author’s next book, Three Gifts.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.


Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Flinn, Mary, Romance/Relationship

Paul Clayton. White Seed: The Untold Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. [Bangor, ME]:, 2009.

White Seed follows the journey of the settlers of the Lost Colony, the third group sent to the Americas by Sir Walter Raleigh, as they fight to survive on what is now the North Carolina coast. But who would be daring, or desperate, enough to abandon his or her homeland, England, for the wilds of the Virginia Colony?

Maggie Hagger, a simple Irish girl running from a terrible deed, seeks indentured passage as a means of escape from the faceless man who pursues her. Accepted as a maidservant for Governor John White’s pregnant daughter Eleanor Dare, Maggie has no idea that she may be trading one death sentence for another. Thomas and Lionel, her erstwhile companions, flee from similarly unsavory fates in England, while others, like the greedy Portuguese captain Simon Fernandes, seek only the opportunity to take what fortune they can from the Natives or fat Spanish ships. As for Governor White, he plans to live out his days peacefully in the tranquil Chesapeake, where the Natives are friendly and the land is mild. But all these hopes are dashed when they are put ashore in Roanoke.

There, a bellicose chieftain, Powhatan, has already determined that he will capture and kill any English who return to his land. He is especially reliant on Towaye, the spy he instructed to be captured before the last English returned to their native land. Now Towaye is back with these new settlers, although he finds himself under the watchful eye of Manteo, a Native loyal to the English who raised him from a child in this interpretation of the tale. But Powhatan isn’t the settlers’ only problem. When John White returns to England for supplies, conditions begin to deteriorate, and soon Maggie, Thomas, Manteo, and others find themselves fighting not one, but two enemies: the angry Natives…and their own soldiers.

Readers will enjoy this fast-paced, epic account of the Lost Colony’s still-unknown fate, and will find the author’s artistic choices to be interesting deviations from accepted research and other fictional versions.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.



Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Clayton, Paul, Coast, Dare, Historical

Mary Kay Andrews. Summer Rental. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie have seen each other through everything since kindergarten. Now, even though they’re miles apart and all grown up, they still get together once a year to be girls together. This year, they’ve chosen scenic Nags Head, North Carolina as the destination for their reunion. And they need it more than ever. Ellis has just been fired, Dorie is having marital problems, and Julia finds herself at a crossroads in her career. All three hope that Ebbtide, the scenic-sounding beach house they’ve rented for a month from the kindly Mr. Culpepper, will provide solace for their sore hearts.

Ty Bazemore, alias Mr. Culpepper, is the real owner of Ebbtide. Living just next door, he finds it easier for tenants never to meet their landlord–more peace for him, and the opportunity to ensure that everything stays in order. But he doesn’t count on the feisty Ellis, who takes issue with the rundown state of the little beach house. It’s really not Ty’s fault: he’s had a run of bad luck since his grandparents, the real Mr. and Mrs. Culpepper, passed away, and now he’s in danger of losing his childhood home for good. He’s annoyed with Ellis’ nitpicking at first, but then strangely attracted…could she possibly feel the same way?

Maryn is a woman on the run. Her husband, the cold and calculating Don Shackleford, has been up to no good, and by the time Maryn figures out how much trouble she’s in, all she can do is pack a bag and get out of town. Arriving randomly in Nags Head, she throws her lot in with three complete strangers…but will she bring her troubles with her in the form of an angry and violent Don?

Mary Kay Andrews brings together five lives touched by hardship in this comic, heartwarming tale. Relationships, economic difficulties, and family troubles are no match for the strong, sisterly bonds of Ellis, Dorie, and Julia, and their warmth spirals wide to include anyone who crosses their path. Mothers, wives, girlfriends, and best friends will all cheer for these spunky pals as they get one another through the tough times, as women have always done.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Andrews, Mary Kay, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship