Paradise Road (Paradise, # 2)
By: CJ Duggan
Published: November 22nd 2015 by Hachette Australia
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--In the sequel to CJ Duggan's PARADISE CITY Lexie Atkinson discovers that the road back to Paradise is never easy . . .
More than anything, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson wants to move forward with her life, but she can't seem to shake free of the heart-pounding memories of Paradise High. Back on her parents' property in rural Victoria, she thought she'd left behind the glitzy, gritty nightlife of the big city and the group of misfit friends she'd loved to hate, but she soon realises that in order to move forward, there's something she must do first ...
Lexie's going back to Paradise City to face the boy who stole her heart.
Lexie arrives in Paradise City eager to determine if her future includes bad-boy surfer, Luke Ballantine, but Luke is nowhere to be found. Determined not to lose her drive, she focuses on the positive - her amazing new apartment and a chance to try her hand at slinging drinks for the wild partygoers of Paradise City. But when Dean Saville, the owner and broody boss of the Wipe Out Bar, starts stirring more than just her drinks Lexie's future seems less cut and dry; and when Luke barrels back into town, Lexie is forced to choose between her head and her heart.
Basically, I've loved CJ Duggan's work in the past, but Paradise City left me unimpressed. I really struggled with Lexie as a character. She was whiny, overly dramatic, inconsistent between thought and action, and very immature. I had a hard time buying the romance between Lexie and Ballantine as it didn't seem to be built upon any substance. (As a complete side note, I HATE how Lexie calls him Ballantine like his friends, rather than Luke since that's his first name. It never felt right to me.) And while I guess I liked Luke the best of the two of them, even he had moments that frustrated me when he was overly sensitive and wouldn't give Lexie the chance to explain. That being said, when I saw that Paradise Road really seems to build up the triangle between Lexie, Luke and Dean (Luke's half brother), I can't say I was overly excited. However, I needed to know how it would all end, and I wanted to see if CJ Duggan would bring Lexie into a character that I could support.
Well I have to say that I still struggled with Paradise Road. Lexie is still overly dramatic. She's still immature. She still overreacts. She has a really bad potty mouth. But even with all of that she was definitely better than she was in book 1. That just goes to show how much room for growth she truly had.
Since I was never really sold on Lexie's relationship with "Ballantine", I wasn't sure whether I was rooting for Luke or for Dean. Dean is one of those leading males that's often mean to the main female. He's older than Lexie, but at the same time, at least these two had interactions of more substance than she had with Luke. So I ended up rooting for him.
What surprises me the most is that it really feels like CJ Duggan's writing has taken as step back from her Summer series which was self-published initially (**I believe**). I truly hate to say that. I didn't have thoughts of "bad" writing continuously while reading--only moments here and there.
-"If he doesn't believe you, trust you, then you have nothing."
I will say that I read Paradise Road quickly. I wanted to keep reading it even if I couldn't fully get excited about the characters. I didn't love the writing in this one even though I still feel like CJ Duggan will be an author that I support for many books to come! (PLEASE PUBLISH FOREVER SUMMER ASAP!) That being said, I think my review of Paradise Road is coming off more negative than I felt. I still enjoyed it overall. I just know CJ Duggan can do better. Paradise Road gets 3 Stars. Have you read Paradise Road? What did you think? Let me know!