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What Happens in Paradise


What Happens in Paradise

WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE is the second installment in Elin Hilderbrand’s Paradise trilogy. Here, she returns readers to the Virgin Islands and immerses them in the lush of the tropics with their beautiful beaches, mouth-watering restaurants, and a family that is hurt and trying to find answers as to what happened to their husband and father. In the first book of the series, WINTER IN PARADISE, they learned of his tragic death and the double life he led, which they knew nothing about. Hilderbrand sheds some more light on her characters and the storyline in this sequel, but still leaves room to discover what really went down, as well as truths about their own lives.

Russ Steele worked for Ascension, a hedge fund operation where he made loads of money and traveled constantly. But somehow, bit by bit, the operation and job turned shady. His wife, Irene, was oblivious to his employment and his life, as were his sons, Baker and Cash. Following Russ’ death, his family traveled to St. John in WINTER IN PARADISE trying to find out what happened and peel off the layers as their lives were turned upside down and forever changed. At the end of that book, readers were ready to watch the Steele family adjust and see how everything would play out.

"In true Hilderbrand style, there is much riveting dysfunction among her characters, which keeps readers turning pages."

At the beginning of WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE, they have all come back to their respective homes, but are now returning to the $15 million villa Russ owned. Each family member feels that maybe there’s something more for him or her in this tropical paradise. In true Hilderbrand style, there is much riveting dysfunction among her characters, which keeps readers turning pages. Irene decides to return to work on Huck’s fishing boat. Huck and Irene form a friendship, but there’s certainly a little more than that going on between them as each feels the chemistry. Huck is Rosie’s stepfather. Rosie is Russ’ mistress and mother to their 12-year-old daughter, Maia. In this book, we learn more detail and background as to how Russ and Rosie’s relationship formed.

And then there’s Ayers. Baker and Cash are both drawn to her, and, as in the previous novel, their brotherly rivalry revs up and both are cautious. Baker is married to Anna, who announces she is a lesbian and is moving to Cleveland with her lover. Baker and Anna have a four-year-old son, Floyd, but Baker has always been his caretaker as Anna is driven by her medical career as a doctor and surgeon. Since they will be divorcing now, Baker decides to take Floyd with him and move to St. John. He is also driven to move there as he is smitten with Ayers and wants more. However, so is Cash…or so he thinks.

Ayers is caught in the middle of the two brothers, so she lets Cash know there’s a job on the boat where she works if he’d like it. Off to St. John goes Cash to apply for the position and live at the villa. Irene, Baker and Cash have no idea that each of them decides to return to the villa and live there. Is this crazy or what? In every novel, Hilderbrand’s characters are smartly written, and so are their flaws, which is what makes her books so good and relatable.

Hilderbrand knows how to leave readers intrigued and wanting more, and I’m usually quite pleased with her work. However, this story needed more. I waited for a zing until the very end. It didn’t have what I call the “WOW” factor as most of her books do. Amazingly though, I know that in the final volume, she will spin her web and form a conclusion ---  delivering a fantastic novel with a lot of punch and pow, and leave readers feeling extremely satisfied.

Reviewed by Vivian Payton on October 11, 2019

What Happens in Paradise
by Elin Hilderbrand

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316435546
  • ISBN-13: 9780316435543