Author: C.J Duggan
Paradise Road is the follow-up novel to Paradise City, which I read earlier this year, and it had a completely different vibe to it. I really enjoyed this story though I am still left with unanswered questions.
Paradise City saw Lexie return to Red Hill for the holidays on a cliffhanger and Paradise Road opens with Lexie being told she can’t return to Paradise to complete year twelve; not because her parents have discovered what she got up to but because her aunt and uncle are moving up north so she has nowhere to go. Weeks of devastation follow before an alternate solution is suggested, one that sees her find a job and a place to live.
Lexie returns to Paradise during the holidays to try to find her solution, staying in the completely redecorated house of her aunt and uncle. Lexie may have had her return all planned out in her head but things don’t turn out the way she’d hoped. Jobs are hard to come by and she’s down to her last desperate option when she applies at The Wipe Out Bar.
Nothing is as she thought it would be on her return. All her plans of racing back to find bad boy Ballantine are crushed when she discovers he’s off surfing, uncontactable and with no set return date; her cousin has a new bestie who just happens to be Lexie’s arch enemy and her only real friend has a job and is never available. If something doesn’t give Lexie is going to find herself with a one way ticket back to Red Hill for her 18th.
With only days to spare Lexie finds herself with a job at The Wipe Out Bar working for Ballantine’s broody big brother Dean and a room on site.
There is a snarky chemistry between Lexie and Dean that hints at something more. There are times, repeatedly, that their interactions are in direct contrast to their actions. Dean is antagonistic to a point bordering on nasty yet he goes out of his way to offer Lexie a place to stay and a job that isn’t defined until later but she has to put her studies first. It almost seems like mentoring a teen that needs a helping hand, if they weren’t so at each other’s throats.
I was interested to discover more about the Dean and Ballantine back story and try to understand the deep-seated discord between the brothers. I had hoped that would be addressed in depth in Paradise Road but it wasn’t. We get a little bit of explanation from Dean but it didn’t answer the questions, perhaps it was an issue that needed to be explained by Ballantine because his hostility is so much stronger.
Lexie and Dean are at one another’s throats almost constantly yet Dean seems to be inconveniencing himself for her at every turn.
I enjoyed Paradise Road much more than it’s predecessor and it was definitely not what I was expecting. I want to say that it was a little more mature but Lexie seems to be even more childish, selfish and inconsiderate than in the first one. She is trying to claim her independence but has just become more dependent on Dean. There are times you can see she is really trying to be helpful but she doesn’t think anything through.
Paradise City’s cliffhanger was never actually resolved because by the time Ballantine made an appearance Lexie ended up making a scene and the two never actually talked.
Lexie eventually found her feet and grew into herself, which is what she needed to do from the beginning.
I found Paradise Road to be entertaining, amusing and a light summer read, I’m left wondering what’s next for the characters.
Paradise City is book #74 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
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