MURDER IN PARADISE by Carolyn Gibbs was an enjoyable, romantic, multi-cultural murder mystery. I was drawn in by the setting amidst a writers’ conference replete with book signings, workshops, a trade show and an awards ceremony in beautiful, tropical Hawaii. At only 107 pages, it’s a quick read.
The story’s heroine is romance author Claire Jenkins who is attending the convention with her friend, fellow author and writing buddy, Amy Wells. As the story begins, Claire has escaped to enjoy a bit of sightseeing on a small neighboring island before her newest writing partner and our hero, Sam Stewart, arrives. Sam is a famous writer of mysteries and he and Claire have collaborated on a romantic mystery combining their two genres. When Claire arrives on the island, she immediately realizes that she may be interrupting a romantic interlude as there is an elaborate table set. But…instead of seeing a couple, Claire recognizes the groom, half of a newlywed couple at their hotel, and he appears to have murdered someone. Claire attempts to stay hidden and quickly rushes back to her hotel and the room she is sharing with Amy hoping beyond hope to stay off the killer’s radar. Alas, that was not meant to be as an anonymous phone call is made to their room shortly after she arrives warning her to mind her own business or else. Sam has also just arrived. This was certainly not the way Claire envisioned the writer’s conference to go.
I liked all of these characters. They are all well-drawn and easily relatable. Sam was certainly swoon worthy: “Even though Sam wasn’t a romance author, he knew all the big ones, the heavy hitters and those that had crossed genres. He was greeted by most of the authors, some he knew and others who wanted to meet the famous author. Needless to say the romance genre remained comprised mostly by women authors. Sam stuck out like a rooster in a hen house. A tall, handsome, cool rooster in black jeans, his sunglasses hooked off the pocket of his pale blue oxford shirt. A rooster with a flock of hens following his every move.”
While Sam was ready to explore where their relationship may go, Claire was afraid of not only another relationship, but also of losing Sam as a writing buddy if things went badly. Both of them had loved and lost before. Claire was the more scarred and having a harder time letting go of her prior love than Sam was. I’d like to share two more teaser quotes illustrating the gamut of emotions in their relationship.
“No matter how stressed Claire became, the tropical trees and exotic island flowers decorating the lobby always managed to take her breath away and put her mind at ease. Nature had always been a good de-stressor for her coming in close behind having her hand held by Mr. Sam Stewart.”
“Claire started to unbutton her blouse and looked over her shoulder at Sam, who tried to discreetly sneak a peek at her. She reached down to the bed and picked up the nightshirt the hotel staff provided, per Lacy’s request, an extra-large white cotton T-shirt sporting the hotel’s name and logo in classy gray lettering.
They also provided a pair of gray cotton boxers for Sam. He picked them up. “Not bad. They really thought of everything, huh?”
“Yes, it was very thoughtful of Lacy. We won’t have to sleep in our clothes,” Claire agreed on her way to the bathroom to change.
“Or in the buff, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing,” Sam said in a low voice.
“I heard that, Sam,” Claire yelled from the bathroom.
“Wouldn’t be such a bad thing.” Sam called back.
“That remains to be seen.” She giggled.
“Yeah, well you can’t blame a guy for trying.”
So…with a possible stalking killer, the book conference, and Claire and Sam’s raging hormones, the story will hold your attention!
The author’s writing is good. There’s a few grammar issues, but nothing that really detracts from the tale. With nonstop action, suspense, danger, a beautiful setting, and well-defined characters, the story will keep readers guessing right up to a satisfying ending. I’d recommend MURDER IN PARADISE to anyone who enjoys a contemporary romantic mystery with a tropical flair.
-Reviewed by Linda