Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Paradise Rules

Paradise Rules by Beth Kery
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's review
Dec 30, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: review-copy, 2009, erotic-romance
Read in December, 2009 — I own a copy

Lana Rodriguez is a popular singer with a smoky voice and a childhood she's done her best to forget. When her assistant, Melanie, needs a holiday to escape her ex-husband's nasty divorce tactics, she agrees to go with her to Hawaii - the one place she never wanted to return to. As reserved and cold as she seems, Lana's eye is caught by the uber-attractive Jason Koa, a surfing coach and owner of a popular beachside restaurant.

Jason is part of a large family headed by Grandmother Lilly. Once an Olympic swimmer, he now lives on a boathouse, swims and surfs as much as he can, and manages his grandmother's books. He's also a fan of Lana's music, and when the opportunity arises, he arranges with his cousin Po to be her escort for a night.

One night isn't enough however. Jason wants more of Lana, wants to break down her icy facade and mean more to her than just sex. Luckily for him, Lana wants more too. Getting her to promise to spend an entire night and a day with him on his houseboat is as far ahead as he can think, but just when Lana decides to risk everything to be with Jason longer, their steamy, dreamy, passionate world comes tumbling down.

Beth Kery writes great sex. I mean that in both senses of the word: stylistically, and narratively. That is: good prose, good description. If there's one thing you can always count on, it's steamy, steamy sex. And let's be completely clear here: this is erotic romance. That is an actual sub-genre of Romance. A romance novel might have two or three actual sex scenes in it, but focuses mostly on anticipation and the build-up of sexual tension. There's some of that here, but erotic romance doesn't waste time (unless it's a boring one).

The thing about the sex in these books is that it's used to explore the characters' psyches, their strengths and flaws, their compatibility, their issues, their connection. This is the third way in which Beth Kery writes great sex. Without it, the whole novel would fall apart.

There were aspects of both Lana and Jason that I liked, and little things that bugged me. I don't care for heroines who get too stubborn and difficult, mostly because they're way too common. Lana had a bit of that here and there, and I'd like to see a different approach to the character-with-troubled-past-she-wants-to-hide-from. Granted, you'd have to find some other way to create conflict and resistance - the whole point of Romance books, anyway, is to find a way for the characters to resist each other, often needlessly. Hence the sexual tension. Hence why I can't read too many Romance novels, too close together.

The saving grace here is that Lana and Jason have an edge, and also that they desire each other and it's not the sex that they're resisting, but anything more permanent, more committed, more open and trusting. Or, at least, she is. I like a man (in the Romance novel sense), who isn't afraid to go after the woman he wants. I think this is why I like erotic romance so much: you tend to get decisive men and electric, passionate scenes. The emotional side builds more gradually.

Jason was a little too perfect, though. I know I had that complaint about the hero in Sweet Restraint, and maybe the characters' personalities are a little too similar, but for some reason I liked Jason. I did have to laugh at the bit about him winning 8 Gold medals at the Sydney Olympics - trying to steal the limelight away from the real golden boy of the pool that year, Ian "Thorpedo" Thorpe? Not gonna happen! (There was a little dig about Aussie surfers towards the end too - have to say, I don't even know the names of any of our surfers, but it still pricks my sense of national pride! And people say we aren't patriotic ... Maybe not, but we are loyal! And our sports people are our national heroes...)

The story of Lana's childhood was sad, but handled gently and subtly - no emotion-wringing heavy-handedness here! The setting was beautifully recreated - the closest I've come in real life is a pit stop at Honolulu airport where I had to sign away all my rights to America (not a nice feeling I can tell you!) while George W Bush grinned inanely down at me from a horrible gilded portrait on the wall; but in that brief stop-over I did get a sense of the quality of the air: humid, hot and sticky, with a different taste from any other humidity I've experienced, and a distinct feeling of being somewhere else. The tropical beauty of the islands - and their dangers - were simply but effectively rendered here, and even though it felt a bit weird reading it while huddled in my warm clothes with the fireplace going and the temperature outside at -20, it did transport me to Honolulu and make me want to visit the place (first time I've ever felt the inclination).

And did I mention that Beth Kery writes great sex?

My thanks to Beth Kery for a copy of the book.
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message 2: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna Wow, you made me want to read this!

Tina Good review Shannon. I actually picked up this book after I saw a review on a romance blog but haven't read it yet. And you are right, Beth Kery does write great sex scenes. I've only read her Wicked Burn but I do remember being very impressed with how she writes her sex scenes and how the arc of the romance fit within the context of the erotica.

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