Friday, September 13, 2019

Book Review: Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Summer of '69 Beautiful Day, 
The Islandand The Perfect Couple
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Spend the coldest days of winter on a Caribbean beach with New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.   Join New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand on the stunning beaches of St. John for the beginning of her thrilling new winter series-The Paradise. Welcome to Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue. Irene Steele’s idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John’s. This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter."

Irene Steele has it all.  She is a magazine editor, she has two sons, a doting husband, and a gorgeous historical home that she has been renovating for years.  However, she's spending New Year's Eve without her husband, Russell.  He explained that he had a last minute work trip and since Russell travels all the time, it did not seem out of the ordinary.  Russell is very successful and is often courting clients in Florida or other beautiful locations, but Irene never tags along. She is busy with her own job and redoing their gorgeous home.  The next day Irene receives a phone call from Russ's company explaining that he died on the island of St. John aboard a helicopter.  What on earth was he doing on the island of St. John?  Very quickly, Irene and her two sons board a plane headed to St. John to figure out what the heck happened to Russell.  Once they land, they realize he owed (yes, owned!) an multi-million dollar villa with breathtaking views of the water, a wine cellar, a huge pool, and more.  What was Russell doing on this island?  Why was he in a helicopter? Why was it a secret all these years? Elin Hilderbrand doesn't disappoint with Winter in Paradise, which is the start to an exciting new series.

Irene is a woman that many can relate to in Winter in Paradise. She's a good mother of two sons, Cash and Baker. Irene has a steady job, but she feels like she is starting to get pushed aside in it, especially as she gets older.  Her friends have always thought that Russ adores her and whether he travels a lot or not, he has always been there for her.  The story takes us back to when they first met in college and everything seems picture perfect. So, what went wrong? Why would he withhold so many secrets from Irene?

I really enjoyed the characters of brothers Cash and Baker in Winter in Paradise.  Baker is the older brother who is a businessman turned stay-at-home dad.  His marriage to a successful doctor is struggling, so despite the horrible circumstances that having him going to St. John, it should be a nice reprieve from his everyday life.  Then there's Cash, who isn't nearly as responsible as Baker. The stores that his father helped him start up in Colorado went under and now he is broke. He isn't going to bring this up to his mother now though!  So, each brother is harboring his own secrets while on St. John and things get even more complicated when they meet the locals as well as learn more about their father's double life.

Russ is also an interesting secondary character in Winter in Paradise. Although he only exists in flashbacks, I loved trying to piece together what exactly happened on St. John and trying to figure out his secrets. While I could see where Hilderbrand was taking us, I nonetheless enjoyed the ride. I had to find out what Irene was going to do.

St. John is an incredible setting for a beach read. You can really tell that Hilderbrand knows her stuff about the island; she brought it to life beautifully. It made me want to plan my own trip to St. John.  Only someone who lives there for part of the year, like Hilderbrand, could provide so many descriptions and realistic details. Needless to say, St. John is on my list of places to visit in the Caribbean.  

Guys, Winter in Paradise isn't a perfect book by any means whatsoever, but I loved it. It had everything I could want in a beach read. A HUGE mystery, some romance, a memorable tropical setting, family secrets, and characters that I genuinely cared about.  I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of book two, so I can hopefully answer some of the questions that I still had at the end of Winter in Paradise.  Thankfully, we don't have to wait long as What Happens in Paradise comes out in a few weeks. 


  1. So looking forward this, glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Thanks, Michele! I was surprised by how much I really liked it. I hope you get to read it soon!

  2. I am really curious now as to what he was doing in that island, and why he kept it a secret. I mean, is it just to escape from his life? It sounds like they had a relatively good marriage, but man, I'm thinking bad thoughts as to why the secrecy!

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  3. I enjoyed this one too and I am pretty excited for the next installment! Great review.

    1. Me too! Glad to hear you liked it as well. Thanks for dropping by, Jenea.

  4. I love the setting! Hilderbrand always writes such good beach reads.

    1. She really does and the St. John setting was fantastic. I want to go there now. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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