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Dark Paradise (1994)

Dark Paradise (1994)

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3.97 of 5 Votes: 5
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0553561618 (ISBN13: 9780553561616)

About book Dark Paradise (1994)

4.5 starsMarilee Jennings has spent her whole life as a square peg trying to fit into the round hole created by her family. Always the outcast, she has pitched the job she detests and the fiance she doesn't love, hopped into her car and set out from California to the wilds of Montana. When she arrives she finds out that her friend Lucy is dead, her home has been ransacked, and no one seems to care. She's told that a hunting accident is what killed Lucy and her big-city suspicions are raised. The more she tries to find out what happened to Lucy, the more she discovers that no one is what they seem - least of all her late colleague and drinking buddy. Remember in the early 90s, when movie stars by the dozens bought big chunks of land out in Montana and North Dakota? I think Ted Turner started it all (followed by Kevin Costner after Dances with Wolves). I'm sure they meant well, raising buffalo and elk, preserving nature - wildlife and the prairie. What they did was drive up the taxes, piss off the locals and mess with more than a century's worth of farming and ranching history.That's the setting to this excellent book. New money and fancy rich folk set against ranchers and cowboys struggling to maintain their way of life. It draws you in from the first chapter, and doesn't let you go until the last page. I've read this book countless times, and I still couldn't put it down today when I read it. The romance is believable, the chemisty between J.D. and Marilee is palpable and the love scenes are smoking hot. Hoag certainly writes it like she means it. Her story is full of characters so realistic they practically jump off the page and by the end of the book you feel as though you're right in the thick of it with them. The mystery/suspense is carefully plotted and keeps you guessing almost to the very end. Even if you think you know who did it, odds are you'll be surprised. It's held up quite well in the 17 years since this book was written -- it's a bit dated with the references to the clothes people were wearing (Bryce wears tight jeans and chambray shirts buttoned halfway down, and Mari favours filmy skirts, boots and tshirts with oversize jean jackets) and Mary Chapin Carpenter figures largely in the music mentioned. I was roughly the same age as the heroine the year the book came out, so rather than notice that the styles have changed, it made me nostalgic for them. Other than that, I barely noticed the lack of cell phones or mp3 players.I don't normally like cowboys that much, but I LOVED J.D. Rafferty. How I would have loved to have tripped over a man like that in real life. YUM. I identified strongly with Marilee. I liked her, wanted to be her, right down to her wardrobe. Which like I said, is kinda dated, but I loved that look so much in 1994.I only have one beef and it's with the book business rather than the book itself. Here is my question, to Tami Hoag, Linda Howard and others: Why do romance authors who write perfectly good, steamy, well-developed, compelling, character driven, believable stories, pitch it all to write crime/suspense fiction????? Tami Hoag was one of my favourite authors in the early 90s. She wrote big, meaty, romantic suspense novels with really hot men in them, and women that I could identify with. Dark Paradise is one of her best.

Marilee Jennings is fed up with trying to please everyone but herself. She was a court reporter for several years and she just recently quit her job and broke up with her boyfriend. She wants to take some time to decompress and find out what direction she wants to go with her new life. Her friend Lucy moved out to the small town of New Eden, Montana. Marilee knows Lucy will be supportive of this decision and she leaves California behind with high hopes. When she gets to Montana she discovers that Lucy was killed in a hunting accident and Marilee is her heir. Marilee is shocked by this change of events, to say the least. The longer Mari stays in New Eden, the longer she believes that Lucy was involved with something illegal. Mari is determined to get to the bottom of things. Dark Paradise is so much more than just a suspense story. It is a story about people learning to deal with the crap life throws at you. To learn how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. Hoag knows how to pen realistic and sympathetic characters. She grabs the reader and hooks them into the story with these characters. At certain times the reader is going to be so frustrated and want to throw something at J.D's stubborn head or roll their eyes at Will's childish antics. Great connection with the characters, whether it's a positive or negative reaction is what makes this book such a strong read.Even though this is a straight suspense, there is quite a bit of romance to it and I was surprised. I wasn't expecting that. Mari and J.D.'s romance unfolds slowly. At first, J.D. is more like an anti-hero. He tries to scare Mari off, mainly because he is attracted to her and doesn't like that he feels attracted to her. Mari stands her ground and doesn't let him bully her. She is the right mixture of spit-fire and vulnerability. I really liked her character. J.D. was harder to like because he is so angry about everything. Where the story falters a little bit for me is this book comes in at 528 pages. It was a long book with a lot of characters narrating the story. Mari and J.D. spend some time contemplating their feelings for one another and some of it seemed repetitive. Also, there is a secondary romance between Will and Samantha, which I liked very much. After the conclusion to the suspense portion of the story, I wish Hoag would have come back and cleared up a few things with Will and Samantha. Something big happened to them, but their reunion happens off page and it would have been nice for the reader to experience this directly through the characters themselves. Other than that, for fans of suspense, I would definitely recommend Dark Paradise.

Do You like book Dark Paradise (1994)?

I liked Marilee Jennings who left her old life in California to hopefully start anew with her friend Lucy MacAdams in Montana. Unfortunately when she arrives, she finds out that Lucy has been accidentally killed doing something very un-Lucy-like. Marilee is positive that Lucy was murdered and sets out to prove it. Unfortunately the bad guys have issues with her snooping into their affairs. Her neighbor and sheriff J.D. Rafferty thinks she's barking up the wrong tree but he desperately wants to get laid so he capitulates and reluctantly helps her investigate.I enjoyed this book but not as much as her other books. It just didn't have the same feel...maybe too much sex between people who dislike each other. I like Tami Hoag's mysteries where the characters have sex but it's not in-your-face and doesn't interfere with the plot.
—Barbara ★

It has been a while since I read anything by Tami Hoag but I had this one in the TBR pile so I picked it up, as it seemed an interesting romantic suspense.I am happy to say that I really enjoyed. The book opens with the crime being committed. You know who the victim is but during that scene, the identity of the killer is not revealed.We then proceed to get to know the heroine, Marilee, a court reporter who has decided she needed a change in her life and travels to Montana to be with her friend Lucy. However, when she arrives at Lucy’s home in the mountains she finds the place ransacked and a mysterious and overbearing man who warns her away and tells her that Lucy is dead. Shocked Marilee decides to stay and find out what happened to Lucy.There are several mysteries surrounding the town but the one about who killed Lucy is apparently solved to everyone’s satisfaction having been labeled a hunting accident. Marilee sees it as ironic the fact that the death of her friend only brought a slap in the wrist to her killer. Surprisingly she is informed that she is Lucy’s heir and the letter she left for her leads her to think that someone may have been behind the accident.Undecided on what to do with her life and the property Lucy left her while at the same time intrigued by the people she meets Marilee decides to stay in town for a while. She soon develops a relationship with JD Rafferty, the owner of a neighboring ranch who has been feeding Lucy’s animals and keeps thinking of Marilee as just another Lucy. JD wants to buy the property and is determined to fight the Hollywood crowd who has recently invaded Montana leading to the prices going up and the ruin of local ranchers. This is the crowd Lucy ran with, so Marilee is also interested in them and what are they really involved in.Things are not what they seem and when more people die the tension between the locals and the newcomers rises while at the same time Evan Bryce, the Hollywood tycoon who has been buying land, seems to have found a way to get to Rafferty’s lands through JD’s brother’s wife.We do know who the bad people are from the beginning, it is more a question of why and how then of who. Marilee and JD are not new as characters in the sense that we have read about the city girl who meets the lonesome cowboy before but I liked how Hoag wrote them and their story worked for me. This is a romantic supense that is very heavy on romance, Rafferty was a bit overbearing and Marilee had to fight for every inch of his heart. Some people might have a problem with him as this feels as an old fashioned romance. I liked how the tension builds near the end when we find out what is really happening and the final confrontation scene. For me it was an interesting and compelling read.Grade: 4/5
—Ana T.

Court reporter Marilee Jennings quits her job and decides to make a surprise trip to Montana to visit her best friend, Lucy. When she arrives, she finds her best friend is dead and most of the town's people have nothing nice to say about Lucy, especially Rancher J.D. Rafferty. When Lucy's will leaves everything to Mari, including a letter that contains vague clues to her murder, Mari starts asking questions that might get her killed.I enjoyed this romantic suspense book and was a bit surprised by the identity of the killer. My rating: 4.5 Stars.

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