C J Duggan’s Paradise City is about the best kind of love, young love. The eighth novel from this best-selling author and the first in her new series of young adult books is a fun and easy read. This teen romance has some things in common with both Puberty Blues and Grease and is a nice romp along the bumpy road through adolescence.

Paradise City stars Lexie Atkinson, a sheltered girl who has been exclusively home-schooled at her parent’s rural property in country Australia. But things look set to change when she is allowed to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin in the glitzy, beachside town of Paradise City for her final year of high school. It is here that this feisty and goody two shoes, farm girl spreads her wings and comes of age and all while tackling things like rumours, gossip and bitchy mean girls head on.

At first there is some trouble in paradise when Atkinson’s dream fails to live up to the reality of it all. This is especially the case when it comes to her relationship with her inconsistently behaved cousin, Amanda. The two have a rather strained relationship at first even thought they had been close when they were kids. But Lexie does manage to find her match in a sexy, young surfer dude named Ballantine. The latter is a gorgeous bad boy who makes the straight-laced Lexie experiment and live a little.

The chapters are short and the prose is very engaging. The characters are all quite relatable although there will be some readers that will despise Amanda. Some of the references in the book seem a little dated (especially some of the music ones that seem more relevant to when I was in high school). But these are just minor quibbles overall.

Paradise City is a mature, young adult novel that does have some sexual references but also tackles some big issues facing young people. The novel’s leading man, Ballantine will make many women swoon (even if we are decades older than he is). In all, this is an enjoyable and nostalgic read and it’s fast-pacing and private look at Lexie’s point-of-view is both interesting and entertaining. The ending will have you asking a few questions but it should also leave you wanting to hear more from this sunburnt town.


***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:

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