Rereading the book synopsis now, after finishing the book, I find it a little misleading. Yes, everything it says is true, however it’s only a fraction of what happens in Goodbye Paradise. The story is so much more full bodied than what we’re teased with. I guess that’s the purpose of a blurb, right? It gave us just enough to entice us, with the added help of having Sarina Bowen’s name on the cover. (I have to mention, neither of the cover models looks like the characters in the books. That’s always been a pet peeve of mine.)
Sarina Bowen has a huge following of fans, and that large fandom is well deserved. She’s a really good writer and knows how to craft a wonderful love story. Personally, my ratings have ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars, depending on the book, with her M/M novels being at the top of the pile.
What I loved the most was the lack of any barriers between Josh and Caleb. They are best friends. They’ve spent every single day of their lives together, already as close as two people can be. The only thing they’ve withheld is the fact that they’re both secretly gay and in love with each other. (Homosexuality is not tolerated in Paradise.) Because their dynamic is already coming from a place of love, the entire story just felt incredibly romantic. I loved that. So often romance’s build their plot from chaos or drama and there’s some big gigantic wall to overcome romantically, and that’s fine too. I just found it refreshing that in Goodbye Paradise their biggest obstacle was integrating into a world they’re unfamiliar with and coming together. It was really beautiful and tender.
I also enjoyed the differences in the characters. Caleb was usually the capable one, the strong one. The one Paradise had raised into a man’s man. Josh was tender. He was sensitive and gentle, yet still manly in his own ways. I thought it was really sweet that those were all the reasons that Caleb was crazy about Josh. He loved Josh’s intelligence and kindness, and when we were in Caleb’s perspective the readers feel that love through how he saw Josh.
Speaking of perspectives, normally I don’t like flipping perspective changes so the first time we switched from Josh to Caleb I was confused. I read a few pages thinking we were still in Josh’s head and nothing was making sense. I had to go back and see where I went wrong. However, once I got in the swing of things and knew to pay attention to the POV change, I really liked the switch. Sometimes when you switch perspectives a character loses his mystery, which can be a problem for me, but in Goodbye Paradise I think that you needed to know the characters intimately. I needed to read how Caleb was feeling, just as much as I needed to read about Josh. They were both suffering from culture shock, trying to get used to coke and bars and coffee…
There was one quote that I highlighted, just because I thought it was funny and probably a realistic moment for the two sheltered men, and something we all rarely think of anymore. I have to share:
The steak was $19.99. Wow. And why didn’t they just write $20? It wasn’t like I was fooled.
It was small moments like that, their internal dialogue, that made me buy into their upbringing.
Lastly, for those of you who finished reading, but without getting into it, I loved Chloe and Josh. Every single one of those scenes filled me with happiness. Seriously, Josh and Caleb couldn’t have ended up in a better place.
I’m thrilled that Josh and Caleb’s story wasn’t stretched out and we got a full standalone novel. I’d gone into this read thinking the entire Goodbye Paradise series would be about Josh and Caleb, and I was much happier that they were given a wonderful ending.
I’m looking forward to meeting new characters in book two.
Thank you to the author for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.