The paradise problem by Christina Lauren

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Be warned! Don't let The paradise problem fall into the hands of your mother or daughter if there's any chance that they might think that you actually read this type of fiction! And definitely don't let it fall into the hands of children or teenagers. Romance fiction has moved far away from the bodice rippers of the past! But hold up - there is more to this...

Christina Lauren is the penname of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings - an amalgamation of their names. Hobbs and Billings (aka Christina Lauren) are bestselling authors of The beautiful and wild seasons series and many stand-alone romances. The paradise problem is another stand-alone romance novel. One can imagine the fun, laughter and wicked creativity that goes into writing romance fiction such as The paradise problem and if Hobbs and Billings research by travelling first class to exotic, exclusive island locations such as Pulau Jingga - a luxury resort and conservation area in the Indonesian archipelago (which may itself be a mash up of island destinations)...well-lucky them! And if they must read the Forbes list and Financial Review and shop the lifestyle of the gobsmackingly rich and famous so that The paradise problem can ring with authenticity then - what a problem!

The themes and plots of familiar fairy stories such as The frog prince, Cinderella, The ugly duckling and The emperor's new clothes can be read bubbling and weaving through this tropical island steamy romance. The text is reminiscent of of Bridget Jone's diary and definitely Fifty shades of grey as well. Although The paradise problem treads the well worn path of poor girl meets rich man and etc. it would be unfair to say only that. Our heroine, Anna Green, sassy and potty mouthed as she is, has the reader on her side. The part of herself that she witholds from the reader and other characters, particularly the handsome, extremely wealthy West, heir to Weston's Food's conglomerate who is about to inherit one hundred million dollars, is revealed slowly, and the reader is onside with a multidimensional, courageous central character. Of course she just happens to be stunningly gorgeous too.

The family machinations and dynamics are intensified on the tropical island. There is literally a whole lot of trouble in paradise and it takes Anna much courage to place her own values at the fore. Armed with sheer feistiness and bravery, she precipitates volcanic revolution.

The entire novel is structured using alternating chapters that are narrated in the first person by Anna and then Liam (West). This means that the reader is privy to the inner thoughts and emotions of both characters and can see the action that evolves from their viewpoints. This structure works well in framing the plot and characters for the reader.

A light and frothy, sexy romance as it may initially seem, The paradise problem is more than that. It portrays the greed and ignorant exclusivity of the one percenters versus the real life struggles of  the rest - particularly with the state of  the American health, education and housing systems. It is the perennial Cinderella (but especially her modern day well grounded but foul mouthed counterpart) who can climb out of poverty and expose corruption. We know we do not all have the capacity to be a Cinderella but we all love that dream and love to see Cinderella prevail!

Recommended (age appropriate exceptions).

Themes: Romance, Lifestyles of the extremely wealthy, Corruption, Courage, Family.

Wendy Jeffrey