AUTHOR: Courtney Cole
SERIES: Paradise Diaries, book 1
PUBLISHER: Lakehouse Press
PUBLICATION DATE: June 24, 2012
GENRE: contemporary romance
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, high school girls
SUMMARY: When a volcanic eruption interrupts her flight to visit her father to London, Reece Ellis gets pulled off the plane with Dante, who happens to be the son of the prime minister of the small Greek island Caberra. Unable to travel for a few days, Reece is invited to stay at Dante’s family’s palace in Caberra. Dante seems to like Reece, but how is it possibly that a gorgeous, rich, famous boy could possibly like an ordinary farm girl from Kansas?
REVIEW: This book is not what I expected, but I liked it well enough. From reading the description, I thought Dante and Reece would be on their own, trying to make it home when all normal modes of transportation are shut down by a catastophic volcano. I thought they would face the elements, hunger, and chaos with only each other to rely on and trust. Rereading the Goodreads description, I can see how I thought that would be the story.
Okay, so this wasn’t that novel. It was, however, still a sweet romance that reminds me of Meg Cabot’s All-American Girl. The story focuses primarily on the romance, with plenty of drama thrown in so something will actually happen. The story vacillates between Reece and Dante being together, Reece and Dante having an argument (based mainly on jealousy and insecurity), and Reece and Dante working it out. Repeat ad nauseam. Reece’s BFF drama with Kansas friend Becca is completely ridiculous but I suppose realistic enough. The (highlight to see spoiler) assassination attempt is simply plotted and completely obvious, with a one-dimensional character and a transparent motive.
Despite these flaws, the romantic parts are sweet and kept me turning pages. Dante’s Girl won’t win any literary awards, but plenty of readers will wish they were Reece, living in paradise and dating the type of fantasy boy who lives exclusively in romance novels and Disney movies. Grab the flip-flops, sunscreen, and beach towel–this one will be perfect to read beach- or poolside.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A great summer romance for readers who don’t want too much reality mucking up a good romance.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don’t have it. With the intercourse scene at the end, I doubt I will get it. There are lots of good summer romances available that would be a better fit for middle school.
READALIKES: All-American Girl (Cabot); The Princess Diaries (Cabot); Royally Jacked (Burnham); The Princess and the Pauper (Brian)
- Overall: 3/5
- Creativity: 2/5
- Characters: 3/5
- Engrossing: 3/5
- Writing: 3/5
- Appeal to teens: 4/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5
- Language: mild
- Sexuality: medium–some kissing; intercourse (not detailed)
- Violence: mild; a plane burns (lots of deaths); assassination attempts
- Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teens drink at a party, some get drunk