Dr. Kate Martin needs a vacation after a failed romance with her business partner nearly ruins her. Lee Foster is recovering from her first lesbian relationship that self-destructed when her partner moved several states away, leaving her behind. Two failed romances, a double booked vacation cabin, and a blizzard—will fate intervene again and turn a passionate affair with a stranger, into something more?
I have read all of AJ’s books, and this is a definite departure, both from the “Friends” series and her usual writing style. It is a book in sections, the first portion is a back-history, the second is an accidental vacation and the third is the meat of the romance. Along with the story line the writing style changes as well, past and present are written using different methods and have quite different tone, making the whole seem disjointed.
To be honest i found the first section of the book hard work. I don’t mind the split storyline or the back-history, but the lives of our two main protagonists was described not lived. It felt like an extended plot outline. I found the descriptions passionless, I didn’t engage or get involved with the characters. The was too much detail and not enough feeling.
The middle deals with an accidental holiday romance, and as such was fine. Gradually the characters start living their lives in this section rather than the author telling us them. And yet the passions were still not engaged. There is a huge elephant in the room but every time it is glanced at we are shied away – removing the tension and drama in favour of a sweet vacation fling.
And then the drama kicks in, and finally our heroines are riddled with angst. Both want desperately, but neither will give, based on trust and history and fear. And finally we can engage. But actually the final third is an ongoing repetition of that single angst, the elephant is not only visible it is the only story. There is no other development or plot line and the resolution, when it finally comes, seems too easy, too pat, and driven by an overly dramatic response to a fairly common medical condition.
Sunset Island is one of my favourite Trad Romances of the last few years and I have enjoyed the other books in the Friends series. But this was a struggle. At half way I considered quitting and am glad I persevered, as it got better. But this one missed the mark for me. Too much description and not enough feeling, too much unnecessary detail without enough adjectives, never really captured my imagination. It’s a good idea for a plot, but the delivery didn’t work.
(publisher review copy received)
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