Author: C.J. Duggan
Paradise City marks the beginning of a steamy new series for the Australian bestselling author C.J. Duggan. This is her eighth novel, but the first for me.
I am a little torn on reflection actually. As I was reading I found the beginning to be quite difficult to engage with, it wasn’t hard going it was just a little bland maybe.
Lexie Atkinson is a seventeen year old living on the family farm in the tiny town of Red Hill, she has been home schooled and always dreamed of attending a real high school. Her cousin, and childhood best friend, moved to Paradise City four years earlier and Lexie has been daydreaming of moving there to go to school with her and pick up their friendship where it left off.
Straight A’s see Lexie earn herself a place at Paradise High and living with Aunty Karen, Uncle Peter and cousin Amanda. Never in her wildest dreams did she think it would actually happen, and what she gets is far from what she could have imagined.
Paradise City seemed very Puberty Blues to me, as I was reading that thought kept jumping into my head. Part of that was the surfer boys and the Sandman panelvan, but not all of it. It just didn’t ring true for me, it seemed very cliche and stereotyped and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters.
I think my major issue was the hook-ups. They felt so very wrong to me. Don’t get me wrong I have no issue with steamy scenes but these ones didn’t ring true. There was instant attraction which was then built upon, slowly, but the hook-ups were too fast.
Lexie is a little naive and finds herself out of her depth in her new school. She had been counting on having Amanda by her side to help her out and help her fit in. Unfortunately in the four years since she’s last heard from her Amanda has become completely unrecognisable and is far from impressed that Lexie is coming to stay – and has to share her room.
Lexie plans to fill her time in Paradise with new experiences, and that shouldn’t be too hard after her very quiet life on the farm. She’s a good girl who gets straight A’s and hasn’t really ever been in trouble. Her time in Paradise is sure going to change that; detention, late-night parties, sneaking out and making out… and that’s all in the first two weeks.
Lexie is told by the first real friend she makes at Paradise High that things move faster in the city, and so do the girls or the boys move on. Lexie doesn’t want to lose the boy so she immediately starts planning to give it up. I admit, this does ring true to teenage life but I still don’t like it. I think we need to be encouraging our teens not to feel they have to move faster to keep the boy because if the boy is truly worth it he will wait (that could be coming from a mother’s point of view though).
I think there is much more to resident bad boy Ballantine than we have seen. He has a bad boy reputation and he loves to surf but I have a sneaking suspicion that much of that reputation has been gained by assumption not evidence. The only thing we know for sure is that he used to skip school and he was called to the principal’s office the day Lexie went for her orientation. I did find him to be an intriguing character and the back story with Dean is something I would really like to know more about. I have a feeling that will be explored in Paradise Road come September.
The banter between Lexie and Ballantine is quite cute and for an inexperienced country girl she can certainly hold her own. Their instant attraction is believable and it slowly builds as they spend time together but there is still not a great deal of conversation to help them get to know one another.
The chemistry is there, the teenage angst is there and I think I could have liked this a little bit more if I hadn’t found the hookups quite so distasteful.
The storyline is quite predictable and there weren’t really any surprises but I still find myself wanting to know what happens next so I do want to read paradise Road which is due for release in September. Paradise City closed on a cliffhanger and I need to follow it through.
Overall I enjoyed the book, just not as much as I expected to. I look forward to Paradise Road and I think I will read it away from other YA titles, that too might make a difference.
Paradise City is book #31 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
Paradise City is available now through Hachette and where good books are sold.