Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoiled for you.
Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.
Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.
But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them. From Amazon UK
I absolutely loved Leaving Paradise, so I didn't hesistate to buy Return to Paradise once it was released, excepting the same brilliance. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed.
I said in my review of Leaving Paradise that I was disappointed in the romance because it started too abruptly too late on in the book. I'm still disappointed. I just didn't really feel it. All emotional aspects Maggie and Caleb felt because of each other - anger, sadness, love - just felt a little over the top to me. When they were complaining about the other, it felt like they were making a big deal over nothing. And the love felt more like they were just silly teenagers declaring love when they didn't really know what it is. That's not how the story sets it up, but how it felt to me, it was just a little melodramatic to me.
As well as all the emotion issues, not a huge deal happens in the book, either. Caleb and Maggie meet up when she signs up for and he's forced into joining the Re-START programme, a programme that has a bunch of kids who have suffered from drink driving in various ways, and they are to go and talk to other kids at summer camp, universities, juvie, and so on, to make them aware of the consequences. But we see very little of what happens at the meetings that take place, and don't get to know the other kids as well as I would have liked. The focus is all on the emotional connection between Caleb and Maggie.
All in all, I was really disappointed. I have absolutely loved every other Elkeles book I've read, so it's a shame that I didn't enjoy this one. However, I'm not sure whether Leaving Paradise should be read as a stand-alone, as that's not the way it was intended. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did.
Published: 8th September 2010
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Other reviews of the Leaving Paradise series: