East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo (Journey to the Heart #2)
Released: September 4, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
Mitchell Dunford has finished his tour in the army and has become a reservist. He has moved back to his family’s home estate – which includes a winery and a large house he has decided to lease out. When his grandfather owned the property, amazing wine was bottled here. But, that slowly went away as the years passed, and now they just sell some grapes. Mitchell would love to get the estate up and running again and to start making wine – but that takes money he doesn’t have. There is a nice, large house on the property he has leased to a woman named Bryn – and she has big plans as well.
Bryn’s passionate vision for the house she has just leased is to make it into a culinary retreat. She wants to include a state of the art kitchen, homegrown vegetables, and a place where people can come eat, cook and relax in style. Bryn grew up working in her family’s Filipino restaurant and now that she has her MBA, she is ready for this next step. When her business partner abruptly decides not to be a part of this, money for Bryn becomes a big problem too. She needs to renovate and get guests in as soon as possible, so she can make payments on her new lease on time. When a producer who runs live-stream events on the internet approaches her with an idea – Bryn is all ears. For a few hours a day, Bryn will be live-streamed – her journey from leasing this house to opening the culinary retreat. She will get paid for it, which will lessen her money worries
Mitchell is upset that Bryn allows this filming without asking him first. But when the producer comes to Mitchell with the idea that him and Bryn could have a fake romance develop – which would greatly increase viewership and profit….he decides he could live with that for a few weeks.
I struggled with Bryn a little in this book – I didn’t dislike her but she frustrated me. Her and Mitchell are both well developed characters. – this author does a nice job allowing the reader to get to know them intimately. Nothing is rushed and she sets the scene up really well. I enjoyed the first book in this series and felt the same through a lot of this book. But, Bryn did get on my nerves at times. I know I I’m harder on heroines than heroes…but I like what I like, and I don’t like what I don’t like, and some of Bryn’s actions really grated on me. Like when she first meets Mitchell:
I want to prove him wrong, just because.
Yes, it’s irrational. It’s stupid.
It sure didn’t help his cause that he initially treated our meeting with an easygoing attitude, a hands-in-his-jeans-pocket-aw-shuck vibe people like me abhor. People like me who scrubbed floors, washed dishes, waited tables, cooked food, and took our jobs seriously.
She doesn’t know anything about him or the life he has lived.
I learned that she hates to lose control. She is the one that decides to film her life for all the internet to see, without asking Mitchell. Yet, when Mitchell talks to the producer and is arranged into something, she gets so upset and lashes out. When she meets Mitchell’s brothers, and she can’t control their reaction to her, she lashes out. I feel like if the situation had been reversed, and Mitchell treated Bryn’s sister the way she treated his brothers, she would have lost her mind.
I’m all about her spirit of getting this huge business off the ground and running – basically on her own. It’s a learning experience and of course she will have ups and downs. But I just felt like she acted selfish at times. I got tired of reading about it and when I picture them ten years in the future, I can’t help but see a lot of fights between them.
And I know I’ve dumped on Bryn this entire review – and yet this book is still a solid read. I honestly do like this author’s voice – in a time where I feel like I read so many books that feel rushed and details glossed over, she gives us stories that feel very full and vibrant. I enjoyed the journey of getting the house and estate up and running again. Mitchell deals with some PTSD lingering and his journey of acclimating back to civilian life is well done. There are times that the two of them made me smile.
He leans, lips grazing against my neck, against my tattoo. “What kind of flowers are these?”
My body leans into him as his tongue trails up to my earlobe, betraying my brain. What was I mad about again? “Sampaguita. The national flower of the Philippines.”
“Sampaguita,” he repeats in a perfect accent. His hand moves up the inside of my thigh. Not gonna lie, that and the fact that he cares enough not to butcher the word causes me to shiver.
I breathe out a response. “It’s the from the jasmine family. It’s supposed to represent simplicity and humility.”
“So basically, the complete opposite of you?” he whispers into my neck.
I push him away, laughing. “Jerk.”
I wanted to root for them!
I loved book one, if you haven’t read it yet.