JSD Book Review: Paradise Trilogy

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Books: Winter in Paradise [Book #1], What Happens in Paradise [Book #2], Troubles in Paradise [Book #3], all by Elin Hilderbrand

If you read and liked Beach Read or 28 Summers or are a fan of chic lit or romance, you’ll enjoy this book!

Jet Set Darlings Book Review:

I devoured this trilogy and was ready to move to St. John by the time I finished. If I can, I love to wait until a book series is complete to start reading so I can read straight through and really immerse myself in the plot and characters, which is exactly what I did with these. By the end, I feel as if I know them all personally. If I’m being honest though, I found Irene, the main protagonist, a little dull but I did enjoy the secondary storylines about her sons and the residents of St. John. I also really loved reading about the vibrancy of island life in the US Virgin Islands. It was a nice escape from gray, cold Chicago in November – especially during a time when travel is all but forbidden [dang you, COVID].

As with most of Elin Hilderbrand’s books, these aren’t great mysteries but there were enough small twists and turns in the plot throughout that kept me engaged. In hindsight, I wish each book had more individualized plots. If I hadn’t read them straight through, I fear I might have been bored because it felt more like one giant story split into three books versus separate but related narratives. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the third book as much as the first two. It introduced new characters and a few smaller plot lines that seemed random and unnecessary and didn’t quite flow.

In the end, I was happy how it turned out and think Hilderbrand did a nice job tying up all loose ends. If you’re looking for an easy “beach read,” these are perfect. Plus, there’s a touch of holiday essence since the first book takes place around New Years making it the perfect time to start this trio of books.

Book Synopsis (from Amazon):

Winter in Paradise

Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a helicopter crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John.

After Irene and her sons arrive at this faraway paradise, they make yet another shocking discovery: her husband had been living a secret life. As Irene untangles a web of intrigue and deceit, and as she and her sons find themselves drawn into the vibrant island culture, they have to face the truth about their family, and about their own futures. 

What Happens in Paradise

A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too. 

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life — and death — of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures. 

Troubles in Paradise

After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved. 

With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold — including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.

As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John — and the truth that transformed them all.

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