After last year’s exceptional Wicked Burn, I was really looking forward to Kery’s latest contemporary erotic romance. While I felt Paradise Rules wasn’t quite as good as Wicked Burn, it’s a fine example of what I’m always hoping for (but don’t often find) when I pick up an erotic romance: a racier, but still emotionally satisfying read.
For blues singer Lana Rodriguez, Hawaii holds nothing but a host of bitter memories. But when Lana’s friend Melanie chooses Hawaii as her destination of choice for escaping the stressors of an acrimonious divorce, Lana decides to ignore the past and be there for her friend.
For Jason Koa, Hawaii is paradise. His family has prospered on the island of Oahu for generations, and Jason himself owns several successful businesses – including the surfing school he occasionally teaches at. His world changes one day when blues singer Lana Rodriguez walks in the door for a surfing lesson. Cool, sophisticated, and confident, it’s clear that Lana is used to calling all the shots. But Jason isn’t willing to acquiesce to anyone, so the two get off to a rocky start despite their intense physical attraction. When Jason discovers that Lana has hired a male escort for the evening, he decides to take the escort’s place and up the stakes with Lana.
So often in erotic romances, the sex drowns out everything else – namely the characters and plot. Not so in this book. The characters are well-developed, and the relationship that builds between Jason and Lana has amazing emotional depth. One of the things I liked most about this book was how Kery slowly peeled away the layers of Lana’s character. I loved that Lana’s entire back-story wasn’t all spelled out within the first 5 pages, and she was an intriguing character to get to know. Jason was considerably less complex, and overall emotionally healthy and happy, which made for a nice balance with Lana’s tortured soul.
Although the sex starts early in the book and is quite frequent – as is typical in erotic romances – right from the beginning deeper emotions are evident. Jason is intrigued by the rare glimpses he gets of the woman beneath Lana’s icy exterior, and he uses sex to slowly break through her mile-high defenses. Kery writes Lana’s angst very well, and doesn’t let it veer off into the melodramatic.
My only complaint is that I wasn’t as fond of Jason as I would have liked. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him on the whole, but there were a few times when I wished he wasn’t so controlling during sex. Most of the time I was okay with him taking the lead – mainly because he was trying to break through to Lana on a deeper level, and because he never forced her – but sometimes he was so adamant about not letting Lana reverse the roles, that I was left thinking he could dish it out but couldn’t take it. In the overall scheme of things, though, this was a fairly minor complaint.
If you’re looking to spice up your reading with an erotic, but still satisfying romance, I definitely recommend Paradise Rules.