Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
Contemporary Romance/ WF
March 23, 2021, by Berkley
Reviewed by Angela
Content Warnings: Cancer, death, grief
I was not prepared for this book. Not at all. I went into Meet Me in Paradise thinking I was getting a contemporary romance with maybe some laughs and fun times set in a lovely tropical location. What I got was a deep, emotional story full of love, and sacrifice, and a woman’s journey through grief to find herself on the other side.
Meet Marin, a woman full of anxiety who’s world revolves around her younger sister. At the age of 17 Marin finds herself taking over Sadie’s care after the death of their mother. Marin has given up on her dreams and any adventure she may have craved in her younger life, now she lives vicariously through Sadie, while at the same time wishing her bright, sunny sister would settle down.
When Sadie comes home from a job in China, she seems rundown and more tired than usual. This leads to a discussion of a sister’s trip and a weekend of fun. Only Sadie misses the plane and Marin is forced to step way out of her comfort zone and do things she wouldn’t normally contemplate doing. She even meets a mysterious, glamorously good-looking man on the plane who somehow takes over as her tour guide/host while stuck alone sisterless on the paradise island of Saba.
It doesn’t take readers long to realize that Sadie is up to something and has no intention of interrupting Marin’s vacation. While Marin is living her best life and becoming a bit of an adventurer while also falling for Lucas (who happens to own the resort), there is this sense that something else is really going on. And there is. Something big. Something heartbreaking. Something that had me crying big buckets full of tears and clutching my chest.
While I think this is billed as a romantic comedy and even has that cute artsy cover, don’t be fooled. This is a profound book about loss and grief and time slipping away. And how do we live our best lives and honor those we love at the end? For me, this story was more about Marin’s journey through grief than about her falling in love. Although, maybe I’m wrong. The romance with Lucas, and her weighing her current feelings for him against that of an old flame who suddenly appears at such a tumultuous time, is part of her figuring out what she truly wants her life to look like going forward.
This book starts out a bit slow and as the drama and angst pick up so does the pacing. I loved the scenes of Marin and Lucas getting to know each other and falling into like and then love. I loved the island setting and the secondary characters. They brought a vibrancy to the story, and they helped me understand Lucas better. I think the scenes at the end between Marin and Sadie will stay with me for a good long while.
Meet Me in Paradise will be on my best-of list at the end of the year. While I do think this tends to be more on the side of women’s fiction rather than a true contemporary romance, I would definitely recommend. I loved it and I hope readers will choose to add it to their TBR lists.
Final grade- A