VINE VOICEon 8 May 2011
At the age of twenty-six, Jamie Newman's life overflows with way too much drama. Her family owns and operates a busy, upscale restaurant located in Manhattan's theatre district. Maggie, Jamie's mother, has long been a drama queen, seemingly unable to make even the easiest of her own decisions. Heather is Jamie's teenaged niece, who is a drama empress. She is not only trying to figure out why boys seem so stupid to her, but is very angry at her mother, Laurel, for totally ignoring her. Laurel is Jamie's older half-sister. Laurel grew up with lots of money and is extremely selfish. Jamie's father died a few years ago and, somehow, Jamie has found herself tossed into the position of managing the restaurant too. But when Laurel betrays Jamie by seducing away her boyfriend, Jamie decides she has had enough.
Jamie needs a tranquil calm that only the sea can give her. So Jamie packs up her cat, Cupcake, a few suitcases, and rents the Paradise Lost beach cottage in Seaside Cove, North Carolina, for the entire summer. The rental's web site shows the cottage to be lovely and right on the beach. Best of all, Seaside Cove is seven hundred miles away from New York.
Jamie arrives in Seaside Cove to find out that Paradise Lost looks nothing like its photos. The overgrown yard even sports a plastic, headless pink flamingo. The furniture looks as if it came from the dump. Parts of the front steps are missing. There is no power, no air conditioning, and nothing is clean or even close to being sanitary. Worst of all is the smell! Someone left a huge bag of dead clams in the sink, who knows how long ago, and Jamie can barely breathe due to the stink. When it storms that evening, Jamie learns that the roof leaks - the ENTIRE roof! With her apartment subleased, Jamie cannot return to New York and nowhere else is available. She is stuck. The guy Jamie is renting the cottage from, Nick, lives across the street, but he is not home. The locals say that Nick often disappears for days at a time, probably on drunken benders, but no one knows for sure and no one knows exactly when he will return.
Nick Trent has been home and asleep for two hours when Jamie begins banging on his door. Godiva, his Chocolate Lab, is not helping with her loud, ecstatic barking either. He has no idea how the wrong pictures of Paradise Lost appeared on the rental site. The only way to get Jamie to go away is to begin the repairs on Paradise Lost now, instead of in the Fall as he had planned. Too bad the pretty princess is so bossy and irritating. Had she a sweeter attitude, Nick would not mind having a summer fling with the lady.
Jamie and Nick soon realize that they are wrong about the first impressions they had made on each other. Nick and Jamie had both come to Seaside Cove to escape their pasts. Only for Nick, the escape is permanent. As for Jamie, for the first time in years, her every waking minute is not scheduled. Jamie's time is her own with no family drama or job stress. The pair begin spending a lot of time together and romance is starting to bloom, even if it will only last until the end of the summer. The locals are fun and absolutely ooze with Southern hospitality and charm. In no time at all, Jamie has made new friends and is helping manage the Clam Committee for the Clam Festival. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Unfortunately, seven hundred miles is not a far enough distance from her family. One-by-one they begin to show up at Paradise Lost, bringing their drama with them.
***** FIVE STARS!Author Jacquie D'Alessandro has crafted a humorous romance, filled with wacky local characters that I could not help but love. Both of the lead characters have creative pasts, but they have things in common with each other too. Let me also give Jacquie D'Alessandro a nod of respect for mentioning feral cat colonies and the TNR (trap, neuter, release) program. That topic is one dear to my heart and I have not seen it mentioned in any other story. (Atta girl! You could be my SFADM. Readers will understand what I mean once they get into the story.)
This novel blends together drama, romance, comedy, and a touch of seriousness to create a story that will long linger in the minds of its readers. Fun-freaking-tastic! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.