Review: Troubles in Paradise (Paradise Series #3)

Published October 1st 2020, Kindle

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Travel to the bright Caribbean one last time in this satisfying and dishy conclusion to the nationally bestselling Winter in Paradise trilogy.

Escape to the bright Caribbean sunshine one last time in this satisfying and page-turning conclusion to the bestselling Paradise trilogy.

After uprooting her life, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved.

Irene and her sons try to get on with setting up their new lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold – including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.

As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John – and the truth that transformed them all.

The Paradise series reaches its conclusion with the third novel, Troubles in Paradise.  To understand this novel and appreciate it to the fullest, you should read books one and two before proceeding. It’s not impossible to catch up and understand, especially with a semi-recap at the beginning, but you don’t get the full backstory on the different events going on.

After reading Winter in Paradise, I immediately started What Happens in Paradise and had to anxiously wait for this novel to be released. I could count myself lucky though as I only had to wait from July to October to reach the end as I was late to the Paradise series game.  As the second novel gave a lot of backstory and served as a bridge between the beginning and the end, I was excited to read the conclusion.

We pick up where the last novel left off with the Steele family transitioning to their individual moves to St. John and we move towards finding the truth behind Russ and Rosie’s helicopter crash. Was it really lightening or was it murder? The author maneuvers both options and then reveals it towards the end while still leaving room in the chapters to wrap up the different storylines for each character.  This is where I feel one character, Cash, gets short changed as he shared the plot more or less equally in the first two novels, but he gets pushed aside a lot in this one. His story does get told and you get a glimpse into his pathway to the future, but I just feel like there wasn’t enough focus on him and giving him the pages he deserved.

Before the points of view changed between the Steeles (Cash, Baker, and Irene) with Huck, Ayers, and Rosie each taking turns and in this one we add Maia (and a few other characters that weren’t prominent, or even in, the first two novels) plus St. John where the author told the story sort of from the island’s perspective and we glimpse into the different subplots.  I enjoyed the St. John portions as it was nice to get the overview of the island and gain an insight into life in paradise. This was a fabulous addition that I wished made it into the first two as it just accentuated the beauty of St. John even more than the descriptions throughout the other novels.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of at times. For me, if I re-read this series, I would read them one after the other as the few months between lost some of the momentum and it was slightly more difficult to get back into it (I can only imagine how it would have been if it was longer between each read – this might not be the case for every reader and could just be my preference).  Unfortunately, this novel was a letdown as the characters just didn’t resonate with me the same way  and it didn’t live up to my love of the first two, especially Winter in Paradise. The storylines weren’t as discussed in depth and we more or less just told to the reader in order to forge ahead to eventually reach a conclusion. There just didn’t seem to be as much love put into the writing as the story just sort of happened while some characters didn’t have their same time in spotlight (Baker and Ayers – her love triangle with Mick, Cash and Tilda, and even Huck and Irene). Some of these storylines (Irene’s especially), I feel should have been addressed in book two as it deserved more time to develop and eventually settle once she makes a decision.  Everything involving her seemed very rushed when this type of behavior/thinking just didn’t match the Irene Steele I read about in the first two novels.

Life on the island is what sets this novel apart and kept me going. There was no denying the bond that the people of St. John shared with each other. They may gossip and they may have their spats here and there, but they are one community and will always be there for each other when it counts, even if they don’t like you. The friendships and bonds that are shared among St. John’s residents is envious to those of us that barely know our neighbor’s name. The community aspect helps to make some events more relatable as some characters change houses, start new careers, etc.

Overall, the novel did meet my expectations to wrap up everything – you eventually know what happens to each character (did they each end up with the romantic partner they had at the start and did they work/live with who the reader guessed) and what happened to Russ and Rosie. You also get to find out about the final wrap up of the FBI investigation into the money. The conclusion works to satisfy the reader so they know a general ending for each character. What lost me is the novel itself as it didn’t feel like I was reading the same series as Winter in Paradise or What Happens in Paradise (both of which seemed more streamlined). Troubles in Paradise jumped a lot to try and take care of each of the characters to the point where it felt like nothing was accomplished. It was a decent read, but it just wasn’t up to par from what I expected.

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