In Banton’s (Get Out of Town, 2014, etc.) love story, a middle-aged woman gets an unexpected second chance with her high school sweetheart in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Photojournalist Jenny Keen agrees to help her fiance, William, the resident manager of The Inn on Grace Bay Beach, by taking photos for an upcoming feature about the resort in National Geographic Traveller. Camdyn, the woman hired to write the article, brings along her husband, Mark Merritt, who happens to be Jenny’s ex-high school boyfriend. Thrust together after more than two decades apart, it’s apparent that they never stopped loving each other. But Jenny has a secret that she isn’t sure how to tell him—and neither of them wants to rekindle their romance if it means hurting others. In between shoots and island tours, the two resolve to find a way to be together, even after the hard-to-tie-down Jenny leaves for another assignment in Haiti. Lucky for them, the conceited Camdyn and ruthless William hit it off, paving the way for the old lovers to reconnect. But later, Camdyn mysteriously goes missing from her Indiana home. The novel paints a luscious island scene that will leave readers with the urge to book tickets to the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the backdrop often outshines the story, and the intrigue often comes off as trite or overly dramatic. For example, Jenny obsesses for pages about the unknown past of Hope, a hotel employee’s wife. Mark finally asks about it and relays the information to Jenny, who fawns over how he “skillfully unraveled the puzzle”—but despite the buildup, the storyline ultimately falls flat. A conspiracy to burn down a historic building is similarly resolved halfheartedly. Part of the problem is that, just like a holiday at the titular idealistic resort, the novel has none of real life’s complications; few characters are forced to make tough decisions and everything conveniently works out. Day after day of sun, sand, and room service makes for a great vacation, but a rather boring book.
A humdrum novel of second-chance romance.