Dear Ms. Kery:
I really enjoyed Wicked Burn, your debut novel, enough so that I hunted down and purchased quite a few of your ebook backlist titles. From those I can see that you have eclectic writing tastes and from those I’ve come to acknowledge that, personally, only your straight up contemporaries work for me. The paranormals, the ode to Chicago (Daring Time), just aren’t to my taste. Lucky for me, Paradise Rules, is a straight up contemporary. Further, Paradise Rules features two multicultural characters. (Right, like one is a hard sell, so two is like the kiss of death! Who wants to read about hot Polynesians???)
Lana Rodriguez’s is a famous bluesand jazz singer. She’s on vacation in Hawaii with her personal assistant, Melanie, who was undergoing a very acrimonious divorce. Melanie wanted to do something to reward herself, like going to Hawaii and having a fling. Lana is her best friend and goes along, reluctantly. Hawaii holds some bitter memories for her and everything about it – the scent, the scenery, the laid back attitude of the natives, stirs up things she’d rather forget.
Jason Koa is a former Olympic medalist turned business owner on Honolulu. When Lana first meets him, though, he’s late for her surfing lesson and she finds him in the surf shop office getting a handjob from some student. Needless to say Lana is less than impressed and Jason is a little pissed off at Lana’s attitude. (note to Jason, getting a hand job in a public place when you are supposed to be somewhere with a paying customer will lead to impatience and curtness from a customer).
This first meeting sets a certain tone for the book. Lana will play the uptight, need-to-get-laid girl, and Jason will play the laid back, sex-on-a-stick, guy. The reason that it works for me despite the cliche is that plenty of time is spent on revealing the truth behind the cliche and yeah, the super sexy scenes didn’t hurt either.
Lana has a lot of shame and hatred associated with Hawaii. It’s hard for her to see the beauty. She likes to maintain rigid control over every aspect of her life, including what happens in the bedroom. She’s no stranger to hiring pleasure. She pays for an “escort” for Melanie and explains to Melanie that she is free to do as little or as much as Melanie would enjoy. She plans to enjoy her own purchase.
Jason Koa’s cousin owns the escort service and can’t help but sharing the wicked tale with Jason of Lana’s purchase. Jason offers to serve as the escort, not because he needs to money, but because there is something about Lana that intrigues him.
Jason initially is portrayed as quite the asshole. You offer the justification that he is merely responding to Lana’s coolness and presumptuous attitude, but I felt, particularly early on, that Jason was in the role of the supplicant. I mean, if he truly was fulfilling the escort role, the paid sexual provider, then his complaints about her demanding ways were misplaced. I understood that the conflict dynamic was to present Jason as the person who was going to challenge Lana’s rigid control over all aspects of life and by letting go, she could come to an emotional rightness. And toward the middle to latter part of the book, I felt more comfortable with the couple and the power dynamic.
As with Wicked Burn, this erotic romance works well because there is a lot complicated emotion between the two characters tied up in the sex. They both use sex to punish and please each other. It’s both a weapon and an apology. While I wasn’t always comfortable and while I wasn’t always in love with the characters, particularly Jason, I recognize that the mix of heavy sexual content with strong emotional content is very tough to pull off. For readers looking for an erotic romance that has both the eroticism and the emotional conflict, it’s hard not to recommend this even in its imperfect state. B-
This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. The Amazon Affiliate link earns us an affiliate fee if you purchase a book through the link and the Sony link is in conjunction with the sponsorship deal we made for the year of 2009. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Sony through the book link. We endorse good sexy books with hot Polynesians and would do so without payment of a free book.