***ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***
This author has an incredible way of slinging me back to my teen years with her books, especially when 90's nostalgia pops up. Jonathan Taylor Thomas swooning? Yep, did that. Sneaking out at night to meet boys? Did that too, with my BFF all the time. The feelings you experience as a teenager are special and new and C.J. Duggan captures them beautifully.
Lexi Atkinson is tired of living the small town life. She is tired of being taught her lessons via satellite. That's right, Red Hill doesn't even have a school, but it does have three pubs. Much to her surprise, her parents tell her they will allow her to stay with her aunt and uncle so that she can attend Paradise High in Paradise City. Lexi is so excited, she can barely contain it. Living near the beach, seeing her cousin Amanda again, and attending school with classrooms full of kids her age; how did she get so lucky?
However, when she arrives in Paradise City, Amanda isn't very welcoming. And during her first week of school, she gets caught breaking into what she thought was the senior's common room, but turned out to be the teacher's lounge.....with teachers and the principle inside. Needless to say, she has to go to the office where the principle puts her on yard duty wearing a safety vest that lets everyone know she did something bad, literally. Then she gets sent to "Siberia", or detention as we know it, for the whole week. This was not what she was expecting when she moved to the city.
She soon realizes that detention may not be so bad when Ballantine and Boon enter the room. Ballantine, the hot surfer boy whose smile should 'come with a warning label', sits down next to her. Her crush is in the first stages of development, so when he leans over and asks to borrow a pen, it sends her heart racing.
Then, one night, she wakes up to the sound of Amanda shuffling across the floor in their shared room. When she goes to sneak out the window, Lexi tells her to take her along. Reluctantly, and because Lexi practically threatened to warn her aunt and uncle, Amanda allows it. When they join a group of people at the beach, Lexi's eyes settle on Ballantine, who's watching her, and then he immediately takes his leave.
Lexi struggles with the hot and cold treatment from Ballantine. She decides, more than once, not to have anything to do with him, just to change her mind the minute he enters a room. But when rumors start to fly about Lexi and the owner of the Wipe-Out Bar, Dean Saville, will it be enough to open Ballantine's eyes? Or will his issues with Dean drive a bigger wedge between him and Lexi?
Now, bad boy Ballantine is enough of a temptation to bring Lexi over to the dark side, but Dean is a major player too. I'm hoping to see more of him in the next book!
If Paradise City doesn't make you feel younger, then you're reading it wrong (unless you really are younger, in that case, just savor it!). It pulled me in with it's snarky comments and 80's movie references. This was a very enjoyable read, it allows you to relive those feelings of a first crush, the good and the bad.
There is a cliffhanger, and it only serves to deepen the mystery between Ballantine and Dean. I am really excited for the next book, but why do I have to wait until September? I know, I know, we need to give the author a little room to breath, but I really want it now! (<----Told you this book makes you feel younger...I may throw a tantrum.)
Don't take my word for it, (Well, actually, you should listen when I tell you to buy this book.) Experience it for yourself. Highly recommended for readers of new adult. Fans of Abbi Glines may like it too.