Review: Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

by Heather Caliendo
book review troubles in paradise - book club chat

Editorial note: I received a copy of Troubles in Paradise in exchange for a review.

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand is the final chapter in her Winter in Paradise trilogy.

So I am fairly new to Elin Hilderbrand’s stories. Earlier this year, I read 28 Summers, which I liked enough—the setting is amazing!! But as I mention in my review, the affair storyline was off to me. Still, though, I really enjoyed her writing so decided to continue to read her novels going forward. And that leads to me Troubles in Paradise.

You’ll sometimes see the disclosure at the top of reviews stating that a publisher sent me a review copy. I do a mix of that, buying my own novels and using the library. I looked at my NetGalley queue and saw that Troubles in Paradise was in there. But problem was, I haven’t read the other two books in the series! So I debated a bit about what to do. Should I read the other two real quick before diving into her latest one? Or should I just skip it altogether?

Then I decided, why not just try to read this one and if it’s too confusing than I could always shelve it for later. And it worked out fine! She gave plenty of backstory about what happened in the last two books. But keep in mind my review is coming from someone who hasn’t read the other two books in the series!

The synopsis

After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved. 

With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold — including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.

As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John — and the truth that transformed them all.

Multiple characters

This story follows a lot of different characters. While Irene is central to the story, there’s also a focus on her sons, Baker and Cash, her love interest Huck, etc. Most likely since I haven’t read the other two books in the series, it took me some time to figure out who all the characters are and how they’re related to one another. But once I got that, I feel the story moved quick with having so many different viewpoints.

I am curious what you all think about how this family decided to set their lives in St. John—especially after everything Russell had done. You would think they would want to stay far away from there. But then again, it’s probably hard to resist moving to somewhere like St. John and starting over.

I liked all the characters and thought they all were pretty engaging throughout the story. Funny enough, I felt the corruption/crime angle of Russell was the least interesting part. But again, coming in late to this, I was more interested in how the characters move on from that.

St. John

One of the best things about Elin’s novels are her settings! And you do feel like you’re transported to St. John. I love all the details of the landscape and even smaller ones about the food. Including all of that really helps to paint a picture of life on an island. And apparently she spends part of winter writing in St. John—must be nice!!

In the author’s note, Elin described how the hurricane in this novel is fiction but it’s based on the real events of when Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit the Virgin Islands. I did feel the hurricane section felt a bit “tacked on” at the end. I wish it would have been a bigger part of the story. But I also get that this is the third in a series so she was trying to wrap up many different storylines.

All in all, this was an entertaining read on a lazy Sunday. Check out my book club questions here.

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