The Paradise Guest House – Ellen Sussman (2013, Ballantine Books, New York)
Looking for a good beach read? Ellen Sussman’s The Paradise Guest House can offer you the sparkling white sands of Bali, and a romance to delight you while you’re dipping your toes in the pool.
If you’ve been following The Door is Ajar for awhile, you’ll know that I don’t often read romance novels; I average about one a year, I think. I’m the kind of reader that will usually choose the zombie story over the love story, but I have to say, The Paradise Guest House was thoroughly entertaining. Sure, it had the requisite sweet, ooey-gooey centre, but it was the dark outer shell that kept me flipping pages.
A vacation for American travel guide Jamie goes horribly wrong when she is caught up in the nightclub bombings that rocked the country and shocked the world in 2002. Badly injured, Jamie is rescued by a stranger, Gabe, another American living in Bali (who is, of course, running from past demons). Returning home to heal, Jamie nevertheless cannot forget the man who helped her, and she returns to Bali a year later to face her fears and possibly resurrect her connection with her mysterious saviour. I was pleasantly surprised by the well-crafted story and delighted in the exotic locale, while Sussman’s careful research of the attacks and her sympathetic and sensitive portrayal of the survivors remain the biggest reasons why I loved the book.