Tuesday 9 July 2024

The Paradise Problem

Finished July 5
The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren

This romance novel is a lot of fun to read, as one would expect from this author duo. Anna Green married Liam "West" Weston so that both of them could access subsidized family housing at UCLA. Both had needed an affordable place to live to finish their degrees, and Anna's friend Jake had suggested his brother as a solution. Anna had started in pre-med, but ended up in fine arts, and Liam was working on his graduate degree in economics. Anna signed some papers when they moved out and went on with her life, working low level jobs and painting as much as she can. She has a manager for her art, but hasn't hit it big. Liam is now a professor at Stanford, specializing in corporate culture. He is also one of the four children of the CEO of Weston Foods, one of the country's biggest grocery chains. His father has always expected Liam to take the reins as the next CEO, but Liam wants none of it. Both of his brothers, Alex and Jake, as well as his little sister Charlie work there in executive positions, but Liam has managed to make his own way after his father cut him off when he was in university. 
Now Charlie is getting married, and Liam is expected to make his appearance at the destination wedding at a resort in Indonesia. He is also expected to bring his wife. 
Anna hadn't realized that they were still married, and she also had no idea that Jake and Liam were part of this wealthy family. When Liam shows up on her doorstep to ask her to play at being in a committed marriage with him, she has to admit his timing is good. She's been trying to pay all her dad's hospital bills, but has recently lost one of her jobs, and is taking a day to distract herself. With Liam's offer to give her money in exchange for her appearance, she knows it will help her situation immensely.
Liam's lies to his family also included Anna being in med school as he didn't realize she'd changed her career track, so there is another lie that she has to play along with. 
The setting is beautiful, a luxury private resort, with ocean cabins, exquisite food, and lots of fun activities. The family not so much. The tension between Liam and his father is huge, and hanging over Liam is a clause from his grandfather's will that means Liam won't get his inheritance until he's been married five years, which is coming up in a few months. Liam's mother, Janet is passive aggressive. His older brother Alex is just plain aggressive, and Alex's wife Blaire seems to drink an awful lot. Jake is, of course, the only one that knows the real story of their marriage, but he's only too happy to assist. I really enjoyed the parts that included Alex and Blaire's children, particularly their oldest, Reagan. She's at the age that things get hard, puberty, and Anna is only too happy to give some life advice and support. 
There are a lot of things going on under the surface here, but Anna and Liam find themselves getting along in ways that they hadn't expected, not to mention feeling some chemistry between them. There is fun banter, real attraction, and some great romance going on. I didn't put it down until I finished it. A definite winner. 

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