Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Overview from Goodreads:
Spend your winter on sunlit shores in the New York Times bestselling follow-up to Winter in Paradise, as secret lives and new loves emerge under the bright Caribbean sky.
A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.
Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life — and death — of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.
Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of America’s most beloved and engaging storytellers.
Our adventure continues in book two of three (next one will be released October 2020). We leave off exactly where book one (Winter in Paradise – see my review here) and continue along trying to figure out the secrets behind the death of Russell (“Russ”) Steele. As this novel is a continuation of the first, it’s not impossible for someone to skip the first, but they would be missing a lot of details and backstory for some of the characters and events.
Our main three Steeles (Irene, Baker, and Cash) have returned to the mainland U.S. to try and move forward with their lives after they were turned upside down with the events that occurred in St. John. Ayers is trying to move on with her life and has now started seeing her ex-boyfriend again and they’ve fallen into their own routine. Huck is busy captaining his own fishing boat still and balancing being a parent to teenage Maia. Things seemed to have settled down for everyone….that is until the FBI calls as they are investigating the helicopter crash.
I love Irene as a character and she’s been one of my favorites as she’s very relatable. Since the time we first met her in the first novel, she has grown so much as a person and has become more aware of the marriage her and Russ shared. She thinks about various moments from their past and takes those lessons to learn about what would make her happy in the future. She is still grieving from her husband and I love how the author has her heal organically where she has moments where she moves two steps forward and one step back (and sometimes three steps forward and zero steps back). She’s a very realistic character and I greatly enjoy her sections of the story.
Every character is enjoyable, which is something that I enjoy about this series. As a reader, you may have moments that frustrate you or that you don’t agree with, but overall the author has a way to make you still care about them. This novel was a fantastic continuation as the characters all have changed a little (some more than others) over time (just like real people do), but they are still true to themselves and don’t change just to forward the plot. The novel changes POVs just like the first where we get third-person perspectives of what is happening to each character. It’s nice because you get to see what’s happening at different places at the same time (and sometimes different times depending on which part of the story you’re reading). You get to live all the events of the story as a reader this way since there is a lot going on at any given time with all of our main characters living their separate (yet together) lives.
This novel delves into the backstory of Rosie and Russ more and shows their whirlwind romance through Rosie’s eyes as we read her diary entries. For me, I felt these moments were too long as I could’ve just dealt with a summary of what was hidden in the pages rather than live out the every moment – every word spoken between each other and others and every waking moment in Rosie’s life at the time. Don’t get me wrong as some of the things in the diary are essential to the overall story, but I feel that we could have gotten the same points by reducing the number of pages devoted to the diaries.
For me, this novel felt like the second one in a set of three as the first one did an excellent job setting up the characters and suspense and I’m guessing the third is where we’ll hit the climax and come to the dramatic conclusion of our tale. It was still an excellent book, but it just wasn’t as strong as the first. I have high hopes for the third to bring it all together so I’m trying not to judge this book too harshly. All this novel did for me was want October to hurry up and get here for the final book to be released as I’m anxious to find out the truth behind all the secrets!!