by Susan Meier
Series: Paradise Key #4
Also in this series: Summer Love: Take Two, Love at the Beach Shop, Resort to Love
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
After her estranged father is indicted for insider trading, wealthy heiress and morning talk show personality, Evelyn Barclay, returns to Paradise Key. She takes a job with a friend, only to discover she's now in charge of Paradise Key's sexy mayor, Paxton James.
Pax wants nothing to do with the video Evie needs to produce for the town's new website. But he can't deny that every time he's around her, sparks fly. Not only is she beautiful, but when Evie steps up to help his daughter, he sees another side of her.
Just as Pax and Evie grow closer, her dad's appearance in Paradise Key threatens to send her into hiding again and ruin their budding relationship.
This is the fourth and final book in the Paradise Key series, and I think it was a great wrap-up to the series. As long as you’re familiar with the basic series premise, I think you could easily read this as a standalone. On a whole, these are such sweet reads, perfect for taking to the beach. I’m quite glad I discovered this series, and I’ll be looking up several of the authors to follow!
“The piece of your grandfather’s charisma you were lucky enough to inherit made you a star. Now, that same name is hurting you.”
After spending some time in Paradise Key coming to terms with the death of a friend, Evie is happy to be back in Philadelphia and ready to resume her life as a morning talk show host and minor celebrity. When her estranged father – who’d stolen from the inheritance left to her by her grandfather – is in trouble with the law again, her news station doesn’t want to deal with the fallout and tells her to go lay low until it all blows over. Evie, understanding that it’s going to take at least a year, heads back to Paradise Key, and one of her friends offers her a job filming the weekly tourism video with the town’s mayor, Paxton. There’s definitely some attraction there, but Paxton’s roots – and tween daughter – are in Paradise Key, while Evie’s life is back in Philadelphia. Then Evie’s dad suddenly shows up, and Paxton’s got his hands full trying to keep his town off the scandal map, let alone have time for a relationship!
This was delightfully sweet and heartwarming, not the least because it involves the romantic relationship between Evie and Pax, but also because of the relationship between Pax and his daughter Sam, and Evie’s budding friendship with her. Pax has a lot of baggage – besides being a widower, he’s got emotional scars from a childhood of being forced into acting by his mother. Sam’s twelve, and lost her mother at a young age, much like Evie. She’s increasingly pulling away from “dad stuff” to immerse herself in the world of makeup, dances, and social media. Evie’s train wreck of a relationship with her ex-actor dad has Pax worried that that’s where his relationship with Sam is heading, and he’s relieved when Evie steps in to help Sam out with girly things like makeup and clothes shopping. It’s a bit of a silly parallel, as the main issue is that Evie’s dad stole money from her trust fund. There are reasons behind the theft, of course, as Pax finds out somewhat against his will. As Evie and Sam grow closer (and Sam does a little tween matchmaking), the idea of a summer fling starts to sound appealing to Pax and Evie. But can Evie overcome her trust issues, and can Pax finally let go of his dead wife?
“You know, one minute it seems like you’re seducing me. The next, you’re taking me to Home Depot.” She met his gaze. “Are you confused?”
This all sounds angsty and serious, but it’s actually quite funny. There’s a particularly humorous bit where Evie’s trying to get Pax to admit he’s attracted to her, so she wears a flowing skirt that keeps blowing up in the breeze and a somewhat low-cut blouse to one of the weekly tourism video tapings, and then giggles as he gets distracted and has to do multiple takes. Pax fights his attraction to Evie hard, and watching them realize how compatible they are together was alternately sweet and silly. The more time Evie spends in Paradise Key, the more time she realizes how much that silliness is missing from her life in Philly.
As for cons, some of Evie’s tips for Sam struck me the wrong way. There’s a few about weight management – Evie points out that she walks everywhere in Paradise Key as a form of exercise (specifically for weight management), and also that she prefers to eat her calories rather than drink them (this doesn’t stop her from having several alcoholic drinks throughout the book, though) – and keeping makeup light and natural, and perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but it struck a bad chord in me. These are certainly valid points and things I’d probably tell my own daughter, but as the only sort of advice offered from the mom stand-in, I didn’t like that the focus was on staying thin and wearing makeup.
Overall, I thought this was a great end to the series. If you’re looking for something sweet, heartwarming, and funny to read at the beach, you can’t go wrong with these books!