4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, Christmas, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

4.5/5 stars

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I spent the last four Christmases with the Quinn family in Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Street series and it was beginning to feel like they were part of my Christmas tradition. I looked forward to my time with them, just as I look forward to my friends’ annual holiday parties and spending time with my friends and their families and neighbors. I was disappointed that the series ended and not sure how I felt about a new series.

I fell in love with the Steele family. Irene Steele is poised and has so much integrity and warmth. She guided her adult children without getting overly emotionally involved in their lives, something I want to strive to do with my children. I found her to be such a great role model!

Irene has two adult sons, Cash and Baker, both struggling in their own ways – one’s business failed, the other’s marriage failed. The day after New Year’s, Irene gets a call from her husband’s business associate’s secretary that her husband was in a plan crash off the coast of St. John and that he is dead. Irene gathers her sons and they make the trip to St. John, where they realize that they never really knew what their husband/father did for a living and how he made money and that he had a secret life for many years that none of them knew about.

While down there, Irene’s two sons both fall for the same girl – Ayres, who was the girl I wanted to be when I was in my twenties, free-spirited, sexy and fun. Irene meets Huck- a fishing captain and so different from Irene, yet they really seem to hit it off and he seems to bring out something in her.

I loved all of the characters in this book, but I am Team Cash all the way; Baker kind of annoyed me, but I did like that he had his “school wives” since he was a stay-at-home dad and I liked the advice they gave him and the things he learned from them.

I look forward to spending my next two Christmases with the Steele family and finding out what happens next in their lives.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hildebrand

4/5 stars

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I don’t remember what year I discovered Elin Hildebrand, but I know the book was Barefoot and my girls were still in school, we still had a Swim Club membership and I sat beside the pool that summer and read every single one of the books she had published up until that point, while my girls splashed and played with their friends.  Since then, I have looked forward to her summer book.

I saved this one until we were in LBI for a few days.  I wanted to read it on the beach.  Which I did.  And I enjoyed every single second of it.

Celeste is from a lower middle class hard working, close-knit, very moral family and Benji is from a very privileged upper class family that originally came from England, but now lives in the US.  Her mom works at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA and his mom is a well-loved novelist.  Her dad sells men’s clothing at Neiman Marcus and his dad is some sort of hedge fund manager or something financial like that.  But Celeste and Benji meet and date and decide to get married.

On the morning of their wedding, her maid of honor is found floating in the marina outside Benji’s family’s Nantucket compound.  An investigation ensues to determine if this was foul play or an accident or even suicide.

The mystery is playful.  It didn’t feel dark or sinister, yet it was very intriguing.  I kept thinking that I had figured it out, and then was wrong.  Over and over.  Which was fun and kept me reading.

There are two beautiful love stories.  I loved Shooter’s storyline and Karen’s storyline.  I think Karen and Bruce (aka Betty and Mac) ARE the Perfect Couple.

The author encouraged the reader to contemplate how class and privilege weigh in to people’s decision making.  Were the Winburys more morally corrupt because they had been given everything and just thought they could/should have whatever they wanted?  Did the Winburys make poor choices because their choices never involved survival, homes, cars, foods would never be an issue for them.  Did Mac and Betty make better choices because they had to work hard for everything they had and the threat of it being taken away was always there?  Did Mac and Betty have higher morals because they couldn’t afford not to?

I thought the author did a great job with keeping a murder mystery not too heavy or dark (who wants heavy and dark on the beach?), but still raising questions about class and privilege and still telling a fabulous story!

I would like to thank Netgalley and Little Brown for my copy.