Release Date: July 1st, 2014
Publisher: Forever Yours
Series: Dark Paradise #1
Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Description from Goodreads:
Mala LaCroix has spent her whole life trying to escape her destiny. As the last in a long line of "witch women," she rejects the notion of spirits and hoodoo and instead does her best to blend in. But when she finds a dead body floating in the bayou behind her house, Mala taps into powers she never knew she had. She's haunted by visions of the dead girl, demanding justice and vengeance.
Landry Prince has always had a crush on Mala, but when Mala discovers his sister, murdered and marked in some sort of Satanic ritual, he wonders if all the rumors about the LaCroix family are true. Yet after Mala uses her connection to the spirit world to identify his sister's killer, he starts to form his own bond to her . . . a very physical one. As they move closer to each other and closer to the truth, Mala and Landry must risk everything—their families, their love, and even their lives.
Since I've been reading a bunch of contemporary lately, I thought it'd be a good idea to throw something into the mix to change it up. Something paranormal or fantasy or SOMETHING. And I do like magical, witchy stuff. So I decided to pick up Dark Paradise. I'm not entirely certain what I was expecting from this book, but whatever it was, I was so very wrong. It threw me for a complete loop, and I actually really enjoyed that.
The paranormal elements of the story weren't completely apparent right from the start, and they grew as the story progressed. I liked that, since it made it so we were pretty much learning about everything as Mala does. She had some prior knowledge, of course, but the major aspects addressed in this novel were foreign even to her. That fact alone helped make Mala into a protagonist I enjoyed reading. She also had a good sense of humor, and held a pretty confident air.
The book is dual POV, so Mala only told part of the story. The other half went to Landry, a guy who's had something of a crush on Mala for a while. Not an instalove crush, more like a crush where he knew he was attracted to her and wanted to know her better. I actually really loved that. It added more of a conflict once the events of the novel started going down, but it was also just plain cute. Landry was a nice, charming guy. I liked the time spent in his mind, and found his perspective to be highly valuable as I made it farther into the book.
Plot-wise, Dark Paradise ended up more mysterious than I'd anticipated. I planned to go into this and read a fun paranormal story and instead spent loads of time pointing my finger at people who could have been the murderer. Mixed with the paranormal elements, I must admit I had some fun with that. I was suspicious of just about everyone, and then decided that I KNEW who did it...and then I was wrong. I wasn't entirely shocked, but it was nice to be wrong.
As far as romance goes...as much as this conflicts me, there is a love triangle. I tried to deny it throughout something close to the entirety of the novel, but I can't be in denial anymore. It's a triangle. And I am FIRMLY Team Landry. I think. Because looking at that preview for book 2 made me feel like I may waver later on. But for now, I heart Landry. He's a good guy, and he and Mala made a great couple. Their romance crept up on me, and I enjoyed it. Landry's crush grew, and Mala started feeling something for someone. It was perfect. I liked Georgie well enough, but I'm not completely sold that he'd make a love interest I could swoon for like I did Landry.
Overall, Dark Paradise was a well-written, unique story that mixed paranormal, mystery, and a bit of romance perfectly to create a story I absolutely enjoyed. I loved Landry and Mala, and I will definitely be back for the next installment to see where their story takes them next. Though I must admit, I'm nervous as to where that might be.
Actual Rating: 3.5 hearts
(But I'm rounding up to 4 because I'm super excited for book 2, which is always a good sign!)