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Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite
Domestic Arts is the second book in Annie M Ballard's Sisters of Stella Mare series. Evie has returned to Stella Mare and is living with her father, James, who agrees that she can stay if she helps to clear out the house. Evie had sacrificed her dream of being an artist by supporting her boyfriend Jase for twelve years. She wanted to get married and have children, but Jase was adamantly opposed to the idea. Evie finds a job at a local art gallery, where she meets Stephen. He takes interest in Evie, and she finds him easy to talk to and even learns that her father likes the man. However, Jase calls Evie and wants to see her as he needs her help with the project he had kicked her off. Does he want her back and what about Stephen?
Annie M Ballard portrays Evie’s depression in intricate detail. I wanted to yell at Evie when she seemed to be in denial about her relationship ending. I could see that Jase was blatantly selfish and never considered her feelings. Stephen had the patience of a saint, and Evie used him as a sounding board without complaint. Everyone knew that Stephen liked Evie and the romantic tension between them builds. A series of unpredictable twists kept me captivated. The scenery and characters were vividly portrayed throughout. The alternating views between Evie and Stephen display the inner turmoil they both faced from outside circumstances. I appreciated how this romance felt realistic and enjoyed the dialogue and daily interaction with the supporting characters. The conclusion allows for a smooth transition into a sequel, although Domestic Arts can be read as a standalone story. I recommend this book to readers who like slow-burn romances with relatable characters.