Thursday 13 September 2018

Book ~ "Winter in Paradise" (2018) Elin Hilderbrand

From Goodreads ~ Irene Steele’s idyllic life - house, husband, family - is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. 

Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John’s. 

Irene is in her mid-to-late 50s and thinks she has it all ... a husband named Russ who loves her (though he is out of town working a lot), two grown sons named Baker and Cash with lives of their own and a beautiful showplace of a house.  She has been promoted (but really demoted) at the magazine where she works.

It's New Years Day and she gets a call that her husband, who is away on a business trip, has been killed in a helicopter accident in the U.S. Virgin Islands along with the pilot and a local woman.  What?!  So she and her sons rush down to see what's going on.  They discover that not only does he own a nine-bedroom villa in St. John but he also had a girlfriend named Rosie who has a 12-year-old daughter named Maia.

There is a lot of secrecy and mystery.  Russ' villa has been cleaned out of all of their possessions, an employee of Russ' boss has IDed Russ' body which has been cremated, and now Irene can't get a hold of his boss.  There too much unknown so she reaches out to Huck, Maia's step-grandfather, to see if he has any information and can fill in some of the blanks.  In the meantime, both Baker and Cash are attracted to Ayers (and the feeling is mutual), who was Rosie's best friend but she doesn't realize who they really are.

I liked the writing style of this book and thought it was an interesting story.  It is written in third person perspective with the focus on the different characters including Irene, Cash, Baker, Ayers and Huck (the chapters are labeled).  This way we find out what was going on from their perspective and what they were thinking.  The timeline jumps around a bit as it is told from the different perspectives as things were happening at the same time.

I thought the characters were okay.  I found Irene a bit cold and distant in the beginning but liked her by the end.  She learned a lot about herself with the death of Russ.  I didn't see any redeeming qualities in Baker.  Cash is still trying to find himself.  I liked Maia, Huck and Ayers, though I thought her actions at the end were a bit of a cop-out.

This is apparently the first book in the Paradise series and there were a lot of things left unfinished by the end of the story and there was a cliffhanger.  I'm not a fan of this style of ending as now it's forcing me get the next one when it comes out to find out what happens next.  But I was engaged enough in the story that I probably will.

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