Vox's Reviews > Haole Wood

Haole Wood by Dee DeTarsio
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Jun 27, 12


Those Hawaiians know how to have FUN, people. Let's all move there today. I'm sure they would be thrilled.

First, a disclaimer: I received this from Dee DeTarsio in exchange for an honest review.

Second, a caveat: I cannot stand "guardian angels" in books. And I really don't like it when authors use that hoary chestnut, "If only I had known" at the end of a chapter, just to force you to keep reading. And since a guardian angel and chapter cliffhangers show up in this book, you know my review will be honest.

So. Having said that ...

I really liked this book.

Jaswinder Park ditches her job as a San Diego TV weekend weather girl to go spend a few days in Hawaii, bailing out her paternal grandmother. She assumes that she will be back in time to hit the airwaves, with nary a ripple in the Pacific Ocean to cause her stress. Well, as those chapter cliffhangers tell us, you should never, ever think that your plan is working perfectly. Because Jaswinder's sure doesn't.

First, she discovers that Halomi is in the old grey bar hotel because she was growing - and disbursing, in her own way - the marijuana. Then Jaswinder suffers a long-distance firing from her job. She gets drunk and has hot island sex under a banyan tree with a doctor. She gets sunburned. Halomi faces a murder charge, and then - AND THEN - her guardian angel, and a rather large guardian angel at that - shows up to "help."

Got that? Good. Because it all happens in the introductory chapters.

Stuck (as if you could really be STUCK) in Hawaii, Jaswinder needs to prove her grandmother's innocence and figure out what she wants out of life. The island changes her; in fact, the island is a character in itself in this book. She connects with the locals and her Hawaiian ancestry. And she makes mistakes. Oh, my, does she screw up, but that's what I liked about her. She's real. Her mistakes aren't wearing the wrong top with the wrong skirt; they are jealousy over pretty women, presuming guilt and a healthy dose of selfishness.

In addition to being something of a mystery - who DID kill the guy Halomi is accused of murdering? - this is a romance. That dude Jaswinder rocked the banyan tree with turns out to be a dermatologist, and a hot one at that.

I didn't want to think. I just wanted to touch and feel and taste ... and bite and squeeze. Scratch and suck. I couldn't believe my own hands were reaching down and pulling up his t-shirt, over and off his head. Hubba hubba. What a body. I couldn't even remember his name but he remembered ien because he whispered it in my ear.


Now, there is not a lot of Hot Sexy Times in this book, but that's okay. It isn't one of those books, because it's more about a woman trying to come to terms with her role in her family and her role in her own life. Jaswinder suffers from Second Born Syndrome, always feeling like she matters less than she does. She likens herself to Suellen O'Hara, Scarlett's sister, who loses her boyfriend to her hotter older sister. Jaswinder, it appears, lost a love to her sister, but that thread is not developed very well. I would like to know more about what happened between the sisters. Even so, we definitely understand Jaswinder's sense of not feeling as if she counts for much in her family. Yet who has to save the day?

About that guardian angel. He turns up, and I don't really know why. Haole Wood doesn't need him, and neither does Jaswinder. He offers her some guidance and insight, but nothing she couldn't have come to on her own, or, better yet, with the aid of Halomi. Granted, Halomi doesn't appear to have a firm grasp on the English language (her main means of communicating is to say "Not that"), but it would have added some nice depth for her to help her granddaughter the way the angel does.

Even with that and the "If only I'd known" cliffhangers at the end of chapters, this is a sweet, delightful, fun book. I laughed out loud in quite a few places. Jaswinder is sassy and feisty, bless her. And her voice is so real - confused at some points, hopeful at others, snarky and sarcastic most of the time. She uses self-deprecation and snark to protect herself, and learning to lower that shield takes some time.

This is a terrific summer beach read. I mean, if you're going to read about Hawaii sun and surf, you might as well enjoy it yourself in some fashion, right?

Published on cupcake's book cupboard. @VivaAmaRisata
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