Forgotten Paradise, by Shira Anthony
Series: Dreamspun Desires (Standalone)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 17, 2017
It’s dangerous diving for secrets.
When a megacompany threatens to take over his family-owned business, programming prodigy Adam Preston escapes the stress with a much-needed vacation in the Dominican Republic. There he meets attractive, intelligent, insightful Jonah James, a scuba dive instructor, and what starts as a holiday fling soon blossoms into much more.
But Jonah has a secret: ten years ago he woke up on an island beach with no idea how he got there… or even who he is. Their paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. When Jonah’s memories come crashing back like waves on the sand, will it be Adam clinging to the proverbial life raft, or will the two men find a safe harbor to ride out the storm?
This story blew me away – I was expecting something light and enjoyably tropey. What I got was a gripping story about second chances and taking chances.
Jonah has had amnesia for 10 years. He doesn’t know who he was, and he suspects that he doesn’t want to know what’s lurking in his memory. I really liked the angle taken here, that we are not starting the story right when Jonah wakes up without his memory, but rather a decade later, after Jonah has had time to come to terms with this. His “coming to terms,” however, is essentially: “I’ll just ignore it.”
Unfortunately, the past always catches up, and watching Jonah struggle with and accept the demons he tried to forget is half the pleasure of this book. The other half is watching Adam and Jonah dance around each other. The more time Jonah spends with Adam, the more he starts to remember, culminating in a very satisfying (if not exactly surprising) reveal of his past identity. But that reveal is just the beginning of the story, and dealing with the fallout is where an already good story dials it up to 11.
One of the truly enjoyable aspects of this book is that both Adam and Jonah communicate like rational people who are trying to be very clear about where they stand with each other. It makes their happy ending so much more satisfying, like it’s something that they’ve both truly earned. Not only that, but they both have separate female confidantes that they rely on throughout the story for advice, and it was such a breath of fresh air to see important female characters written so integrally into the story.
All the while, this story manages the difficult task of taking its tropier elements and making them believable, in both a real-world context, and in the context of the characters. One of the many impressive elements of this book is how easily the author is able to draw defined characters with differing but understandable motivations with just a few words.
Forgotten Paradise is one of those stories that looks simple from the surface, but is surprisingly deep. Adam and Jonah feel like an inevitable conclusion, but it’s a conclusion that I was frantically turning pages to reach.
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. You can hear Shira sing an aria from a live performance of Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: “Vissi d’arte”
Shira’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. When she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. Her favorite place to write is at the Carolina coast aboard Land’s Zen, a 35′ catamaran sailboat, with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
Whether contemporary romance, high fantasy shifters, or time-traveling vampires, Shira writes what she loves and never writes a story without a HEA. Her Mermen of Ea trilogy book, Into the Wind, was named one of the best books of 2014 by both Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and Hearts on Fire Reviews, and was a finalist in the 2014 Goodreads M/M Romance Member’s Choice Awards. Her Blue Notes series of classical-music-themed gay romances was named one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word’s “Best Series of 2012.,” and the most recent book in the series, Dissonance was named one of the best books of 2014 by Hearts of Fire Reviews. Her book, A Solitary Man, co-authored with Aisling Mancy, won a 2016 Rainbow Award Honorable Mention for Best Gay Mystery/Thriller.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.