Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “We’d only known each other for a total of seven minutes “
How important was your first kiss? How long did the feeling last? A minute? A day? A Year? When seventeen year old Charlotte Davenport received her first kiss from carnival worker Vince Youngblood, nothing came close to replicating that feeling for 10 years. Now, Vince and the carnival are back in town and Charlotte is hoping that the second kiss will be just as good.
Charlotte Davenport never forgot her first kiss from a carny. Now 10 years later, she is still living in the same small town, running the family hotel that she doesn’t want, and has been left at the altar by her fiancé. Charlotte is just barely living until she sees her carny again and life suddenly seems interesting again.
Vince Youngblood has always been part of his father’s carnival but life pulled him in a different direction until his father disappears and Vince chooses to leave a promising medical career to help run the family carnival. When he arrives back in town, he sees Charlotte again and is shocked by this feelings towards her. Older and wiser now, he wants to see where this attraction between them can go.
Brooke Moss has a definite gift when it comes to romantic contemporaries. The Carny is a romantic, delightful, and heartwarming story about love, family, and second chances. Filled with plenty of humor, snarkiness, and eccentric characters; we get a ringside seat as we watch Charlotte struggle with her attraction to a man she only knew for 7 minutes while dealing with her dysfunctional family and their racism. Extremely character driven, it’s very easy to submerge yourself into the lives of these characters and the stories they have to share. Charlotte is a delightful person who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with humor, intelligence, and a lot of patience. Stuck in a home and career she hates, Charlotte’s inner monologue will have you chuckling to yourself as she tries to live her own life despite what her family demands from her.
Vince Youngblood is quite a swoon worthy hero. Gorgeous, sweet, and gentle; he’s an alpha hero with a heart of gold. He has lived a full life, and like Charlotte, has experienced loss and disappointment from his family. He too felt the connection with Charlotte but they were both young and the circumstances just didn’t lend themselves to exploring those feelings. Their romance starts out slowly, intertwining with the main conflict of the story. I love how each of them is intent on exploring and fanning the flames of their attraction to one another.
“For over a decade, I’d been comparing every kiss I ever shared with a man to the lone kiss Vin gave me.”
Moss gives them more than enough time to get to know one another. They hit some bumps in the road and there are trust issues on Charlotte’s end and some secrets on Vin’s end to resolve but all in all it’s a wonderfully sweet romance that takes your breath away. The smexy times are off scene but that doesn’t take away from the sheer beauty of this relationship. The only part I didn’t like was Charlotte lack of trust. She jumps quickly to conclusions that could have been easily resolved with a simple question or two.
The secondary characters play their respective roles brilliantly. Charlotte’s family is absolutely horrible. Dysfunctional and racist; you can’t help but cringe every time one of them opens their mouth.
“It baffled me that Imelda continued to show up for work everyday. If my mother were my employer, I would have locked myself in the bell tower with a rifle a long time ago.”
Moss addresses their issues gracefully, allowing Charlotte’s family to slowly see the error of their ways in a realistic fashion. I really liked how Moss examines the issues through scenes to show us and Charlotte that racism is just as prevalent in this day and age. Just because you’re not wearing a white hooded sheet on the weekends doesn’t mean you can’t be racist. Charlotte’s best friend Kate is hilarious with her advice and defense of Charlotte. She is the type of friend we all need-someone who loves us just the way we are. Charlotte’s relationship with her mother and sisters is tremulous and their road to understanding and accepting one another is a poignant aspect of the story. I enjoyed meeting Vince’s family and it was enlightening to see racism from their eyes. I loved Vince’s step mother with her biting wit and sarcasm.
“I didn’t know we were having company tonight, I would have cleaned up, or burnt the place down, or something.”
The ending is heartbreaking yet gratifying as everything and everyone finds their place and settles beautifully. It wasn’t an easy road for these characters but it’s well earned. I love the tiny epilogue added that is told from Vin’s POV. It wraps it all up nicely and left me with a smile.
“Some people live their whole lives wondering about their first love-that person who held their heart when they were young….We got a second chance, and not everyone can say that.“
Overall Rating: B