Fact: I am an Elin Hilderbrand fangirl.
When a new Elin book is released, I either have an advanced copy already ordered or run to the book store within 24 hours to pick it up.
Another fact: I have read every book she’s ever written.
So naturally, I knew the final book in the Paradise trilogy was being released the week after my birthday (early October is a stellar time of year for my favorite authors to release books, including aforementioned Elin Hilderbrand and my other favorite, Jodi Picoult). This has turned out to be a great thing for my hubs, because he buys me said new releases for my birthday, AND doesn’t have to worry about getting them on time for my birthday…because they’re released a week after.
Last fact (I swear): In 2016, my husband gifted me her newest novel, Winter Storms, with a ticket to a meet and greet with her at the Providence Town Book Center, in our shared hometown of Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
It may come as a surprise to you that 2020 has sucked, and for the 3 weeks after my birthday, my entire family (all 7 of us) was sick. We had a covid scare (thankfully, not a single one of us had it, it was just some rhinovirus from the depths of hell), so none of us left the house for almost 3 weeks. This caused a significant delay in the delivery of my birthday gift, Elin Hilderbrand’s Troubles in Paradise.
Queue November: the big kids are back to school in-person 2 days a week (which lasted a total of 2 weeks); the toddler has morphed into a full-blown toddler, and our sleep/nap/life schedule is all over the place; work is kicking my ass and I am burnt OUT. Conclusion: the book is still sitting at Reads & Company book store in Phoenixville, paid for but abandoned.
Queue December: hubs and I finally remember said book is at the book store, and he picks it up for me. Per the usual with my Elin novels, I finished this puppy in 3 days (it used to be less, but #toddlerlife).
Now, for the review.
The Setting: When Elin released the first book in this trilogy, Winter in Paradise, in October 2018, I was astounded that she wrote a novel that took place somewhere other than Nantucket. Elin is the queen of Nantucket summer/beach novels (although in her 2017 novel The Identicals, identical twins Tabitha and Harper Frost live on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, respectively). So when I found out her Winter in Paradise trilogy took place in the Caribbean, I was intrigued. Nantucket is Elin’s comfort zone–it is the place she has called home for nearly 3 decades–so I was stoked to see what this novel with St. John as the setting had to offer.
I love that the setting of Elin’s novels encompass the stores, restaurants, bars, and hot spots of the actual towns. She does this in her Nantucket-based novels, and she did not disappoint in Troubles in Paradise. La Tapa, the restaurant where Ayers Wilson waitresses, is indeed a real restaurant on St. John. As is the case with many other establishments Elin mentions in the book.
The Characters: I have to admit, I did not feel a real connection with many of the characters in this novel, or the trilogy as a whole. Their circumstances, their motives, their actions–they just did not resonate with me. Of all the characters in this book, Maia and Cash were the two that I felt the most connected with. Cash was a typical mid-20’s guy who had a somewhat normal job, had experienced failures in both life and romance. Maia, at only 12, had experienced significant loss, but was also just a normal 12 year old girl, growing more mature throughout her experiences, having her first crush on a boy, etc. The other characters were remarkably unrelatable to me. I didn’t understand their actions or reactions, and often as events unfolded, I thought to myself Why did Irene do that? Why did Ayers react that way? And I felt annoyed. In particular, I felt Ayers Wilson’s character was very hollow. Perhaps Elin did this on purpose, made her without defining characteristics so that any woman could relate to her (I found this tactic first in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. It made me feel like I could be Bella Swan, that the romance unfolding between her and Edward–and later, Jacob–could be happening to me, and in that instance it was a great tactic). In this case, it just left me feeling like Ayers was boring, that she was stringing Baker along quite a bit of the time, and also kind of like she was just a bitch.
Did the story have depth? The events that unfolded were…unbelievable, at best. They were far-fetched, and kept getting crazier as the trilogy progressed. But hey, it made for an exciting story.
Conclusion: Troubles in Paradise got 3 out of 5 stars for me. As with her Winter Street series, it felt like this book dragged on into 3 just to say it was a trilogy. I felt like this story easily could have fit into 2 books. It felt stretched thin, and I think that’s why a lot of the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the characters felt superficial to me. Unlike her Winter Street series, the span of Elin’s Paradise trilogy took place largely over a 2 month period.
Overall, this is a nice, light read. I will always read every book Elin Hilderbrand publishes because…well, I just will. We’ve seen it all together. I call these type of books “palate cleansers.” In between historical fiction, true crime, and heavier thriller/mystery novels, it’s good to have a nice light romance book to buffer those intense reads. Troubles in Paradise–really, all 3 books in the trilogy–did this for me.
Want to grab your copy? Right now, it’s just $5 –yes, $5!–with your Book of the Month subscription.