I freaking loved Rosalind James Escape to New Zealand series. The last two books were not as great as what came before, but I still loved all of the books though. I was hoping her new series would be just as great as Escape to New Zealand, but this Paradise, Idaho series is definitely not going to be for me I think.
The prologue shows a college girl named Amy driving and realizing that she is being followed by someone in a truck. She's scared and runs into a store and hides. We change perspective and realize that Amy was right to be scared because someone is stalking her and means to rape her.
From there we transition to chapter 1, named "In the Ditch". We have college professor Zoe Santangelo who is on her way to teach her class. She hits black ice and ends up in a ditch. A strange men pops up at her door and acts like an ass when she doesn't roll down her window right away and rebuffs his offer of help and instead reaches out to Triple A. Then a cop shows up and tells her she should let the stranger help her (his name is Cal) and takes off.
I am going to tell you right now, this probably was not a good book for me to read in my current mindset. There is a lot of not all men crap happening throughout this book that ticked me off and there is a lot of stupid stereotypes revolving "geeks" and "jocks". The topic of rape comes up a lot, and also consent, and oh how Zoe needs to just give up her dream because Cal wants to marry her and have kids and acts like the whiniest thing that ever lived when she doesn't fall all over herself to do what he wants.
Oh, I hated Cal. I should say that right up front.
This book goes back and forth between Amy (college student), Zoe, Cal, and the rapist's points of view. This book is listed as romantic suspense, but no, there was very little romance in it. And when the topic of rape is in a book, it didn't make me all warm and fuzzy about Cal and Zoe either. I think that Rosalind James wanted it both ways, but it didn't really work as a romance novel at all.
I wish we had stayed with Amy more in this book because she trusts her feelings that something is not quite right and feels more and more like someone is watching her. I totally cheered when James wrote the scene where Amy got the upper hand on the rapist and loved it even more when she realized her boyfriend who was not supporting her, was not the guy for her.
I liked Zoe a lot. She is a no nonsense geology professor specializing in water found in rocks. Her dream is to teach in Paradise, Idaho for a few years and go to a big research college like UCLA one day. She has divorced parents that I really didn't get too big a handle on except her father is a cold fish and her mother is a hopeless romantic. When Zoe first meets Cal she is justifiable standoffish because hey she's a woman on the side of the road with a guy she doesn't know. I have never rooted against a guy so hard while reading a book, but I did root against Cal.
Cal sucked. He is a former football player, turned farmer who is still nursing his wounds from his ex wife cheating on him and then leaving him for one of his teammates. Cal is offended that Zoe doesn't trust him right away and that she is suspicious of him. He makes a quip about how safe Paradise is and then we of course go to Amy and her stalking so I think that was James way of showing how foolish he is, but seriously. He does a whole He-Man will protect his woman thing when he and Zoe get together (of course they do) and he realizes she may be in danger. And I hate how he talks about how he hates how she dresses all of the time. It wasn't cute. He wants her to dress sexy and if she was doing it for her then I would have been okay with it. But there is a scene where he picks out a dress for her to wear when they go out (he buys it without her permission) that made me want to stab that guy in his neck a thousand times.
We have some secondary characters I am sure going to be the characters in book #2, but I am not going to get into them here because I am not reading book #2.
The writing wasn't that great. I think I was supposed to be thinking how cute and sexy Cal was but all I thought was what a jerk he was always. I liked reading about geology and I liked how Zoe taught. But I did hate one of her lectures about geeks growing up to be beautiful, wonderful, smart, and rich. So if these kids don't end up like that, they are failures? She sets up this geeks versus jocks thing that doesn't work. And we also have thrown in how a jock frat boy raped her college roommate and friend so that is supposed to show why Zoe hates all jocks? I don't know, it didn't make sense to me. I think it should have shown why Zoe was careful around men and even though she got not all men do that, she was still careful to ensure that she was safe.
Also there is some crap from Cal about when you die that your tomb says what's most important about you so he seriously says to Zoe that beloved wife and mother is most important. I literally screamed so if I am not married or have kids screw me then? He sucks.
The flow was awful throughout this book. I think because we had so many POVs we were flashing to. Also you had to not paid attention at all to not realize who the rapist is. I was the least surprised person ever.
The setting of Paradise never comes alive for me at all like New Zealand did for me. There didn't seem to be a lot to do besides drinking and going to a bar, or going to someone's home.
The ending sets up a HEA that I honestly wish didn't occur. I think it would have been better for the couple to realize that Zoe's dream was still valid and she could still take a couple of years to go to a bigger school and achieve her dream. Instead the whole book was about her turning from what her father wanted for her for years to turning to what Cal wanted. Didn't seem like a step up to me at all.