The Carny by Brooke Moss

Publication Date: July 7th, 2012
Inskpell Publishing
Format: Paperback, 401 pages
RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars
At a town fair on the coast of Oregon, handsome Native American carny, Vincent Youngblood, bestows an unforgettable kiss on shy, awkward teenager, Charlotte Davenport. Then he disappears without another word, leaving her baffled and enamored.
Ten years later, Charlotte is still living in the small fishing town of Astoria, while being trained to–reluctantly–take over for her philandering hotelier father when he retires. After all, who else will do it? Her two perfect sisters are busy being married to their flawless husbands and having cookie cutter children, while Charlotte remains single, childless, and every bit as mousy as she was a decade ago.
As Charlotte struggles to climb out from underneath her judgmental parents thumb, the carnival rolls back into town, and Charlotte finds herself face to face with Vin again. He’s back to run his father’s carnival, walking away from a promising career in medicine he started in Chicago. Will her biased and judgmental family accept her relationship with a man who is not only a Native American, but works as a carny for a living? And what unsavory secrets bind the well-educated and seemingly superlative Vin to that ramshackle carnival?
After all, you can’t judge a carny by its cover.

One kiss was all it took for Charlotte to know Vincent Youngblood will be someone that she’ll not soon forget, and for the next ten years, she couldn’t go to a carnival without ever searching for the familiar long, dark hair and tall stature of Vincent. When they meet again, Charlotte’s romantic notions were replaced by disillusionment. Jilted at the altar by a man she thought she loved, Charlotte moved back home and took over the reigns at her father’s hotel. Family life remained the same: controlled by the dictates of what’s expected of her by her family and the society, keeping her mother from finally taking that leap off of a bridge and pretending to be happy when she’s far from it. But she’s not without hope. So when Vincent walked back into her life, she was more than ready to take a chance. Odds are definitely not in her favour this time, as her family’s disapproval of Vin and Vin’s family secrets threatened to break their budding romance. 

Charlotte Davenport is one of those characters that I’m generally not a fan of. She’s easily overwhelmed by her family and more often, she comes off weak. If not for her friend Kasey strong-arming her to finally stand up for herself and do the things she wants to do, Charlotte would probably remain everyone’s doormat. I also didn’t like that she keeps adding one and one and coming up with five. I get that she couldn’t trust any man in general because of her history, but boy, does she jump to conclusions like it’s nobody’s business! I do like her fresh innocence despite the life mileage she’s clocked in her twenty-nine years. Above all else, she’s very loyal to a family who only seemed to love her when she’s serving her purpose.

Speaking of her family, they’re like the ugly relatives whom you wish you didn’t know. They’re very judgmental, and sometimes, borderline derogatory. They seemed to be stuck in an era when stature was more important than anything else. It was hard to see how Charlotte could be related to these people.

As usual, Brooke Moss shows her masterful skills in bringing small town living to life through her descriptive writing. Coastal Oregon couldn’t have been more picturesque than if the reader had been there herself.

VERDICT: It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t love this more than I should have; after all, Brooke Moss brought forth a new offering to the romance genre where the hero is of Native American descent. It is rare. I just had a terrible time with Charlotte’s wishy-washy attitude and the tidy way in which this book ended. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some HEA. But the entire ending just felt too contrived for me. Fans of contemporary romance that also deals with some racial and social issues will be enamoured with Brooke’s new book. Despite my complaints, I think Brooke is a fantastic romance writer who finds inspiration anywhere and from anyone. She’s definitely one of select authors on my radar whose work I’ll always look forward to reading.

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