Book Review : Trouble In Paradise
By Carolyn Brown
After her divorce, best-selling romance author, Mary Jane Marsh Simmons decided to move all seven of her girls out of the big city and back home to her hometown, Nacona, Texas. So when the last remaining relative of Miz Raven died and the Paradise was put on the market, she bought it, an old house that had been a brothel during the cattle trial days in Spanish Fort, Texas. Joe Clay Carter had just retired from twenty years in the Marines, Special Forces. He’d lived through wars and rumors of wars and decided to go home to Nacona to do nothing but play poker, draw his retirement check and enjoy life. Two weeks later he was bored stiff, his motel room closing in on him, and he was seriously thinking of reenlisting until his old high school crush, Mary Jane, came to his door asking him to remodel her new house.
As teenagers Mary Jane never gave Joe Clay a second glance, so he was surprised by her offer. Immediately they shook on the deal and he moved into her house to get started. Much to his surprise, the house came filled to the roof with little girls, good food, and crazy conversation, all wrapped up in a house that needed a minor miracle to fix by Christmas. He wasn’t sure if he could get it done in time but he was willing to try. If only Mary Jane was willing to give him a chance too. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
This is the final modern romance I will be reviewing or reading for awhile. Trouble In Paradise was a cut above the average free Kindle romances I have read over the summer.
Mary Jane is a quirky author, who wants nothing to do with another man after being hurt so badly in her previous marriage. Her task is made more difficult as she raises seven daughters. Apparently the historic brothels in Texas were even larger and have the greatest accommodations for a family of eight or so (not included cats or other future pets). Four of the daughters had distinct personalities, while the others faded into the background. Keeping each character unique and distinct is always a challenge when there are so many characters. The main focus isn’t on the daughters, but rather, is on Mary Jane and her relationship with Joe Clay. Joe Clay is the stereotypical leading man; he is physically strong and attractive, a bit rough around the edges, but underneath it all has a good heart and a soft spot for children. Even though I’m poking fun at the characters, it was a quick enjoyable read. There was a moment when the bachelor minister distinctly reminded me of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice because he was so sure of his suit with Mary Jane.
There are a couple of steamy kisses, but no sex. Trouble In Paradise is considered a clean Christian romance. As with other Christian romances, the characters pray and attend church, but that is about the only connection with Christian ideals. All of these modern clean romances give a lot more detail with kissing than an older clean romance would include. As an additional warning, I have discovered that some Carolyn Brown novels have crass language. The language in this one is fine.
3 out of 5 stars
If you liked this one try The McCarran Collection by Liz Adair.
If you want to try a different kind of romance that I immensely enjoyed read Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede. It’s very light hearted and has a Regency/magic twist.
I am currently rereading Possession by A.S. Byatt, which is a complicated (scholarly) read, but also an intriguing romance.
An update: as I read Possession I didn’t find it nearly as charming as I did the first time. Just goes to show our tastes change.