Review: The Traveling Series by Jane Harvey-Berrick (Traveling #1-#3)

Note: This ARC was provided by Ardent PRose in exchange for an honest review.

It’s hard to explain what those two weeks every summer meant to me. I lived for them, I breathed for them, and the rest of my life seemed to be spent waiting.

During my seven years as a preschool teacher, I always encouraged my students to read, telling them that opening a book was like opening the door to a new world, where an unknown but always exciting adventure was waiting for them. I often envy how children are able to be more open and accepting of new things, with curiosity pushing them forward. Being who I am and at the age that I'm at, my skepticism can sometimes come into play, making it a tad more difficult for me to really get into anything that I may consider out of the ordinary. But that's why I read; to experience the extraordinary, the situations, people, and things that are unfamiliar, living vicariously through the characters in the story. When that opportunity comes along when you least expect it, it becomes an even far more precious thing. That's what happened when I entered the world of carnies, roustabouts, and the women who change the lives of the people who inhabit it, courtesy of Jane Harvey-Berrick's The Traveling Series, now an all-time favorite.

Kes was moody and difficult, brilliant and beautiful. He scared me and he protected me. He could be incredibly hurtful and incredibly thoughtful. He wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for me. He challenged me, he took me out of my safe little box and showed me the world could be magnificent. He was everything I wasn’t, but somehow, together, there was a synergy, an alignment, something that just made sense, no matter how crazy it seemed to anyone else.

The boxed set contains all three books in the series and it all starts with The Traveling Man. Here, we are introduced to Aimee Andersen and Kestrel Donohue, who meet as ten-year-old children when the traveling carnival Kes, his older brother Falcon, aka Con, and his grandfather Dono are part of come to Aimee's town in Minnesota and Aimee chooses to celebrate her birthday at the carnival with her parents and older sister Jennifer. Kes and Aimee become fast friends and it's a friendship that lasts for years, developing as the two of them get older and blossoming into love, even though they only spend two weeks out of the year together. Betrayal comes in the form of people Kes and Aimee thought they could trust and at sixteen, forcing them to have no contact whatsoever until Aimee bumps into Kes at a different carnival eight years later, but their reunion brings feelings of anger and betrayal to the forefront. When the truth about what happened years ago come to light, will Kes and Aimee welcome their second chance at forever?

His element was the air around him. I had roots and he had wings—could they ever work together?
   “I love you,” he said.
   I froze, shocked beyond anything by those quiet words. I thought he loved me, I felt like he loved me, but he’d never said those three words to me before, not in his whole life. Until now.
   “I love you, too,” I said.

With the first book ending in a cliffhanger, the second one, The Traveling Woman, picks things up soon after the events in the series starter. Kes and Aimee had another chance to be together and Aimee got to experience life on the circuit with Kes, but his unwillingness to share all his secrets had her leaving him and heading back to New Hampshire for the job she loves, even if it means having to live with heartbreak yet again. But then Kes decides it's time for him to finally go after the only woman he's ever loved and he not only surprises her by showing up outside the school she teaches at but shocks her when he says it's his turn to see how she lives her life. It's clear that Kes and Aimee's love has survived many challenges, but Aimee knows that Kes's life is meant to be lived on the road. Will one or both of them have to sacrifice their own dreams in order to stay together, or will their decision come too late when tragedy strikes and fate forces Aimee to make hard choices that could very well put a permanent end to their formidable love?

Kes wasn’t safe. He wasn’t a sensible choice. He made my heart race, and swoop, and die a little. When I was near him, I burned. When he was far away, my blood moved sluggishly, reluctantly, cooling without his heat. Maybe we’d burn together. But maybe, just maybe, we’d fly.

Books one and two were about Kestrel Donohue and Aimee Andersen, but the third book, Roustabout, is all about Kes's half-sister, twenty-seven-year-old Tera Chastain Hawkins, and twenty-nine-year-old Tucker McCoy, Kes's fellow Daredevil and one of his closest friends. The attraction between Tera and Tucker is pretty obvious, but Tucker is hesitant to pursue anything, not only because Tera happens to be Kes's sister but also because Tera belongs to a world foreign to Tucker, making them seemingly unsuitable as a pair. But lust, and later, love, are difficult to go against, even as Tera and Tucker try to keep things exclusively platonic between them. When Tucker's past makes an unwelcome return and a twelve-year-old secret is revealed, chances of anything more between him and Tera are put at risk. Add to that Tera's parents making it clear exactly what they think of her being with someone like Tucker, and it looks like too many odds are stacked against them. Can the roustabout turned daredevil find a home with his PR maven?

“And I didn't want to be in love with you,” I continued, my voice rough, feeling as if my teeth would break on the words as I spat them out. “The people you love always let you down; they always leave you. That's all I knew. But you . . . you kept coming back.”

I wish I had the right set of words to explain why I fell head over heart in love with The Traveling Series. I've been to my own fair share of carnivals, both as a child and as an adult, and just like the real-life version, this world author Jane Harvey-Berrick introduces us to and entices us to immerse ourselves in was fascinating. While some may see the carnies as nothing more than people who go from one place to another, providing temporary entertainment to curious masses, this series shows how they become a family, one that is even stronger and more close-knit than the ones that share the same bloodline. Both pairs--Kes and Aimee and Tucker and Tera--come into their respective relationships with their own sets of baggage and hang-ups. Kes and Tucker are far more haunted by their pasts than either of the women in their lives and reading about how they banish those ghosts with the love and support of Aimee and Tera, respectively was the highlight of my reading year. The Traveling Series deserves five-plus stars times ten. ♥

“This is the carnival, where magic happens . . . and dreams come true.”

Date Read: May 12, 2016

Learn more about Jane Harvey-Berrick.

Purchase The Traveling Series Boxed Set on Amazon.


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