I am not lost…

June 7, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: WELCOME TO PARADISE by Rosalind James

I’m fairly certain I picked this up from a BookBub promotion probably a couple years ago now (okay, I just checked and I exaggerate, it’s only been almost a year) but it’s another that I have no clue why I picked it up. It’s continuing on in my apparent interest in reality TV show style books, but this is a little more rustic.

This was one hell of a ride.

Mira Walker has entered a “living history” reality show, in hopes that it will do something to shake up her life. She entered with her boyfriend–as you come in teams of two–in hope that maybe this will help them rekindle some of their affection, which has been absent recently. And hey, the prospect of winning a million dollars is cool too.

On the other side, we have Gabe and Alec Kincaid, twins and another team in the game. Given how close twins can be (especially these two) it seems a given that they’ll be able to win the prize–and since Mira’s boyfriend Scott has painted a target onto his own back on the first day, they’re no threat in the least. What could go wrong?

Everything. Of course. This is both reality TV and a romance. Everything can and will go wrong.

A lot of romances (read as: pretty much all of them) set up something like this triangle at the start. Girl is with guy, things may or may not be going well for them–until enter dramatically the sexy swoon god and how could you POSSIBLY ever stay with your established relationship? I’m always a little hazy on whether or not the rationale behind the inevitable switch in relationship is valid or not. At first, I was hesitant for this. It’s lust at first sight, Mira’s focused on Gabe instantly, despite the fact that she’s here with her boyfriend.

Except Scott kills any chance of me rooting for him very early on. I have never wanted to punch someone so much in my life. How Mira has lasted this long in the relationship I cannot EVEN fathom–though knowing what I do about toxic and abusive relationships, it’s not uncommon. But dear God, he starts bad and goes downhill from there.

It allows this to be more than just a romance, more than just a competition–it acts as a way for Mira to re-find herself and make sure she’s really on the path she wants to be. Gabe also toes the line nicely between alpha male and restrained gentleman, which is a nice change from the Super Hardcore Alpha Males that seem to show up in every romance and are incapable of having a conversation without it ending in sex. (I may have some opinions on this.) The banter between him and Alec is perfectly believable, and his handling of Mira and the competition as a whole is perfect.

And of course, in addition to this, it allows the romance to have a much wider cast of characters than just our two leads–since this is a TV show after all. Each character was well-thought-out, they all had their own story, and none of them felt like cardboard cutouts there because something had to be there. (Except for the characters who fit those stereotypes, in which case…that’s the point.) You really get a feeling for who all these people are and grow connected to them, almost as if you were watching the show yourself.

And if you like dramatic endings, this one is a serious doozy. Just saying.

Solid writing, fun characters, interesting premise. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Rating: **** (Recommended)

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