I’ve read and loved thousands of romance novels for over thirty years. My biggest complaint and the reason I’m writing my own series is that I haven’t read MY story yet. Right now, I can honestly say Tif Marcelo’s East in Paradise, Book 2 of her Journey to the Heart series, has come the closest.
A Filipino-American heroine. Check. Military Veteran hero. Also check. Heroine has a younger sister. That’s me as well. Our first date was at Napa Valley, quite similar to the setting of Paraiso Retreats.
I can say though that you don’t have to be a Filipino to relate to the characters and enjoy this book. East has a feisty, resolute heroine in Bryn, who has a goal and knows what she has to do in order to achieve it. It has an admirable hero in Mitchell, who served his country and has a great sense of responsibility towards his family’s legacy. This book is about dreams, family, and love.
The conflicts are very current, very real in the world we live in today. The secondary characters are well-rounded with both good and bad mixed in. The hero and heroine are characterized realistically with strengths and weaknesses.
Where it might have faltered for me a bit is when Bryn appeared to be too aggressive and Mitch didn’t assert himself fast enough. I knew they were going to get their happily-ever-after eventually, but it was an uncomfortable feeling reading it so close to the end without their final and most explosive conflict being resolved.
Overall, I enjoyed East in Paradise, especially the celebration of Filipino culture in the food and relationships. I give it four solid stars.
Note: I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About The Book:
When an entrepreneur and an Army reservist end up in their own reality show fauxmance, they have to decide whether their love exists just for the cameras…or if it’s for real in this warmhearted romance, perfect for foodies and wine lovers!
Bryn Aquino, the former manager of a Filipino restaurant, knows the value of hard work. With a shiny new MBA in tow and an investor, she’s ready to start her own business: a culinary retreat where visitors can relax, cook, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Dubbed Paraiso Retreats, she leases the childhood home of army reservist Mitchell Dunford—who returned from Afghanistan to revive his family’s vineyard—but finds herself in a bind when her investor pulls out of the business.
When the retreat catches an internet live stream producer’s eye through social media channels, Bryn is offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to document her journey in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Excited, Bryn happily agrees to the arrangement…only to find out that she’s going to have to fake an onscreen romance with her indifferent landlord in order to keep her audience interested.
As Mitchell and Bryn put on a show for the cameras, they find their romance isn’t hard to fake. They’ve got more in common under their bluster, banter, and doubts. As their relationship heats up and the cameras keep rolling, the line between show and reality blurs. And when the pressures of family, business, and the audience stack against them, will their romance survive internet stardom? Or was it just for show?
East in Paradise is available today from the following retailers: