Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here.
I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed with this book. Guardian of Paradise by W.E Lawrence is described as a gripping romance/adventure, and while the genre is certainly accurate, I found it to be less than gripping.
The story focuses on our protagonist, Kira Wall, a woman who moved to the Island as a child and has called it home ever since. Now older, she is very protective of her home and its people, wary of all strangers. So when an Australian merchant ship arrives, she’s more than a little cautious. These men bring gifts of extreme value, but the charming Captain has a darkness in his eyes. Kira knows he’s up to something more than he claims, but no one believes her. What’s worse, Kira finds unfamiliar feelings stirring when she meets Trevor, the ship’s handsome doctor, who is here in search of herbs and medicine. Can she trust him? Can she let down her walls and let herself be open to love? Can she discover the Captain’s true motives? And can she do it in time?
This book definitely had a decent premise, and there were moments I was quite pleased with. Overall, the story was a very easy read. Despite what I read in other reviews, I found the novel didn’t drag at all and that the plot progressed very smoothly, which I really liked. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the story to be all that original. I’m not a huge fan of the romance genre, and I have to be honest, I was expecting more adventure than romance. I think someone who enjoys the genre might have liked this book more than I did, but I was left feeling disappointed.
Kira starts out as a character that I really liked. When she first meets Trevor, she doesn’t trust him. She’s polite as much as she needs to be, but she doesn’t open up. There was one moment in particular that really shines. Trevor tries to compliment her, saying that he’s looking forward to spending some time alone with such a beautiful woman. She automatically puts him in his place, letting him know firmly that she is here for work, not to give in to his adolescent daydreams. She demonstrates strength and self-respect, and really quite a bit of intelligence, as Trevor is a stranger to her at this point. But soon, we find her actions do not match her words. In a short time, they become intimate with each other. This alone wouldn’t have bothered me, but I found that it changed her character drastically. Kira starts becoming more insecure and unsure of herself. She makes many reckless decisions that puts herself and others in danger, and while she is still brave, she lacks the surety that she had before. She didn’t have to make these changes, so I was unhappy to see them.
The relationship between Kira and Trevor had some cute moments, but much of the dialogue felt awkward and unnatural. Some of the things that are meant to be flirty come across as more creepy than anything else. Trevor also has a habit of repeating himself, saying the phrase “You are quite a woman”, over and over again. At first, it was complimentary, but by the end of the novel it was annoying.
The highlight of this book was no doubt Kira’s best friend, Malana. She has a talent for recreating animal sounds, even able to sound like a huge pack just by herself. She’s older than Kira, but she’s just as brave and is the first to believe her. She saves Kira’s life multiple times, and in many ways I think she would have made a better protagonist than Kira. I found her to be more interesting and a more likable character – and at the very least, she was the most consistent one.
Other than the plot itself, I found many formatting, grammatical, and spelling errors throughout the book. Lawrence made a risky choice by changing the spelling of multiple words. English is not the Islanders’ first language, and so he changes words like, “after” to “aftor”. It was an interesting idea, but one that I didn’t think worked. It took me out of the story, and at first I wasn’t sure if it was on purpose or not. Overall, I was not impressed with Guardian of Paradise. It left me feeling uninspired and unsatisfied, and so I’m giving 2/5 stars. I might recommend this book to fans of the romance genre, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
Everyone has different opinions on this book – the reviews range from extremely negative to extremely positive! Be sure to check them out, along with the book itself, on Online Book Club, here!