Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TBR Day. Spring Break / Kayla Perrin. 2010.



This is a book I bought last spring at the RT booksigning. Pretty cover, no? Anyhow, I've been meaning to read it for ages now and this was the perfect book for this month's theme of "New To Me" author. Kayla Perrin has written several dozen books in a wide variety of genres-- category romance, mainstream fiction, mass market romance, children's fiction, and romantic suspense. I had a very nice chat with Ms. Perrin at the booksigning. Currently she has some recent releases in Harlequin's Kimani line as well as some other RS titles published in trade-sized like this one.


Spring Break is a romantic suspense novel told in the first person by Chantelle, the heroine, who is one of three college friends traveling together to a Caribbean island for (you guessed it!) Spring Break and meet up with Trouble. Chantelle, Erica, and Ashley are close friends and all three are aspiring authors. They've signed up for a week-long package deal on the fictional island of Artula. The package includes all of the sun, surf, sex, food, and alcohol they can soak up. When Ashley disappears, Chantelle tries not to worry because hook-ups are the name of the game. Finally, though, Chantelle realizes something is wrong and her quest to find Ashley leads her to Jason, another American who happens to be on the island to investigate the disappearances of other women. Ashley, who is the white blond on the cover, could very well have been the victim of human trafficking. Jason shows Chantelle his files about women who look like Ashley and have been missing. As Jason, Chantelle, and Erica attempt to re-trace Ashley's steps they begin to fear the worst as they run into corrupt police and murder.

There's a lot going on in this book and while Perrin weaves all of the themes together very well, it began to be too much. There's the friendship between the 3 women that underlies everything. There are also personal issues that each of them is dealing with as they go to Artula to try and escape their problems. There are troubling family dynamics (some of which show up when Ashley's parents arrive in Artula). There is, of course, the mystery of Ashley's disappearance. In the course of searching for Ashley, Chantelle learns things about her friend that she never suspected. And finally there is Chantelle's budding relationship with Jason. With so much going on this is a page-turner that kept me reading. But it also meant that certain aspects lacked depth. Since I primarily read for the romance, the fact that the romantic relationship in the book had to compete with all of the other stuff going on made the book less satisfying on an emotional level.

I have to say that I read this feeling every one of my 53 years. The hedonism surrounding spring breaks is certainly something that makes the news when a tragedy occurs, but at the risk of sounding like an old prude, some of the behaviors of college students on break made me cringe. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! See? I'm 53. Anyhow, it was still fascinating. In the long run this was a fast, enjoyable read that simply lacked the emotional pay-off I would have preferred. I certainly liked it well enough that I'll try some of Perrin's straight romances soon.

7 comments:

  1. You lost me at first person RS. I wish I knew why I dislike it so much. Oh well. And laughing that it made you feel old. Yeah, I may have to take a pass on this one.

    Oh, I read one of her books a few years back (damned if I know which one) and enjoyed it, so try for another :)

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  2. Lori, I was going to write more about the first person, but decided not to because I couldn't figure out how to say why I dislike first person. I wasn't thrilled when I realized it was first person, but decided to read it anyway. I don't blame you for taking a pass.

    And I will look for some of her Kimani titles. Good to know you liked one of her other books.

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  3. I was a mystery/suspense reader LONG before I became a romance reader, so I tend to adore first person. I like that feeling of crawling inside a character's head :)

    I read one of Perrin's earlier trade paperback, rom/sus books that featured college age characters - and while I think she did a good job of making those characters feel "authentic" - it was a bit like watching a trainwreck. Watching the characters make disasterous decisions/choies because....well, they're 20-something college coeds ;)

    As for her straight-up romances, I found one of her recent Kimani releases "OK" - and she had a real sizzler of a Spice Brief short story out last year? She does "steamy" well.

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  4. LOL. Spring Break stories just don't work for me, but I LOVE first person. As long as it's not first person, present. Which I despise. Still, it sounds like the whole premise of this book just wouldn't appeal. And I read mystery/suspense, too.

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  5. Wendy & Amber, I find it interesting that people either love or hate first person. It really brings out a strong reaction. That aside, I normally like a book that shows a slice of life totally unfamiliar to me, but drunk college students? I am so past that, LOL!!!

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  6. Janet W: Sleepless in not Seattle here ... and skimming around the TBR challenges ... my local newspaper yesterday had a picture of a mother smoothing back the hair of her son, a college student who has been in a coma for a year. Alcohol related: sadly, he "fell asleep" in his dorm and no one called an ambulance. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but spring break and college ... my dd is a junior at college and this is a story I just couldn't manage. On the other hand, I most often really enjoy 1st person. In fact, I should create a goodreads category for it.

    My TBR book this month had a very serious theme (Separate Beds by Eliz Buchan) but it was ultimately heartwarming.

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  7. You know, Janet, you make a good point. I'm not sure I'd want to go anywhere near this book if I had a college-age daughter, either. When we're young a lot of us do some scary stuff!

    And I saw your tweet about Separate Beds. I may have to look for that.

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