Candidly, Carla

Colors of Happiness Book 4

Romance - Contemporary
326 Pages
Reviewed on 03/15/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Candidly, Carla is a work of fiction in the contemporary romance, interpersonal drama, and women’s fiction subgenres, and is the fourth standalone novel in the Colors of Happiness series. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience but contains no explicit material. Penned by author Annette G. Anders, the plot follows Carla Bellini, eager to open her high-end inn on Martha’s Vineyard, and who is focused on her business and not actively seeking a soulmate. However, she soon realizes that her feelings for Damian Foster, her brother's best friend, may be more intense than she had initially thought. Damian, a trendy architect who returns to New England, finds himself grappling with his growing attraction to Carla while navigating his professional success. As their feelings intensify, both Carla and Damian must confront their pasts and make difficult decisions about their futures.

Author Annette G. Anders has crafted a charming novel that presents a rich tapestry of characters and emotions with plenty of dynamic dialogue and emotive description to get readers invested in their stories. Carla's determination to open her inn and her reluctance to pursue romance is the ideal foil for her tough exterior to begin showing vulnerabilities, and I liked the journey for her because she never lost her fierce spirit. Damian's inner struggle was equally well-paced, with some fantastic dialogue allowing us to pick away at his psyche between the lines and see what’s really going on. The unexpected twists and turns, including the introduction of a rival for Carla's affections, give the plot some great pacing and injections of new intrigue, resulting in a compelling narrative that resonates long after the final page is turned. Overall, Candidly, Carla is a highly recommended read for fans of the existing series and an excellent standalone introduction to a brilliant romance author with a great flair for character and atmosphere.

Antoinette Wessels

Candidly, Carla by Annette G. Anders is a romance novel set in New England that revolves around the budding romance between Damian and Carla. They have been in love for a while, but neither wants to admit it. Carla does not want to pursue the relationship because she is unsure about Damian’s feelings. Meanwhile, Damian tries to hide his feelings for Carla because of a promise he made to Carla’s father about not dating his daughter. When the dashing young Canadian romance novelist, William, enters the scene, Damian must do his utmost to pretend he doesn’t care about Carla's attraction to him. Will Carla's and Damian’s hardheadedness prevent them from having the happily ever after they deserve, or will they find the love they both crave?

While reading Candidly, Carla by Annette G. Anders, I came across a sentence that perfectly summarizes the love story between Carla and Damian and also teaches a life lesson: “Well, I could have told you. But nobody likes to be told things, and certain things are meant to be figured out for yourself.” This sentence shows that even though we may hear things from others, we mainly need to figure things out for ourselves to value them, which was precisely what Damian and Carla needed to realize before they could have a relationship. Anyone who enjoys cuddling up with a warm blanket and a good romance novel will not be disappointed when they read Candidly, Carla. This fourth book in the Colors of Happiness series shows readers the possibilities should they open themselves to love. It was a delightful read from the first to the last page!

Jamie Michele

In Candidly, Carla by Annette G. Anders, Carla is on the brink of opening Faulkner’s Inn, a project she's deeply committed to as it's intertwined with her late uncle's vision. Carla's long-time friend Damian reappears in her life after his brother's passing, and they find themselves drawn to each other. Despite their burgeoning feelings, they remain focused on their professional responsibilities and the success of the inn. When Carla's family's hotel faces staffing shortages, the inn takes on extra guests and this launches unexpected drama. Damian's internal conflict intensifies as he acknowledges his feelings for Carla, unsure of how to proceed. Meanwhile, Carla's growing attraction to William complicates matters, causing Damian to feel jealous and increasingly protective of her. This comes to a head when a confrontation leaves any hope of a relationship hanging in the balance.

You know there's going to be trouble when the guy everyone thinks is the hot stripper has the hots for you. Such is the conundrum in Candidly, Carla by Annette G. Anders. Anders does a great job of breathing life into the characters and the settings, but what I love most is that she connects them beyond the single scene by using symbolism. Carla is folding towels in her inn's utility room and her mind wanders back to Tuscan childhood memories, offering a powerful metaphor for renewal and connection as she is in the throes of a new venture. There is some sizzle and it comes from different directions. Anders does not try to reinvent the wheel with the love triangle but instead chooses to make it her own by focusing on character dynamics and their internal battles, rather than solely relying on external plot developments. I also think this gives us a realistic portrayal of romance rather than an idealized one. The writing is clean and intelligently witty, with all the right moves—figuratively and literally—to make it a wonderful addition to the Colors of Happiness series.