This is the second novel for Jill S. Alexander. Her first, The Sweetheart of Prosper County, was a 2010 Texas Lone Star title. Her refreshing characters, witty dialog, strange and quirky surroundings, small town angst, Texas-isms, and memorable details make Paradise a great southern gothic read. Paisley is the youngest daughter of Texas-born-and-bred-and-damn-proud-of-it mother Diane Tillery, a wannabe Martha Stewart with an attitude as big as the state of Texas itself.
Diane has big plans for daughters Paisley and older sister Lacey--no small town marriages for them, no sir. These girls are going somewhere! They won't be stuck in the middle of nowhere married to some redneck cowboy loser. The girls, of course, have no intention of following Mother's careful planning. Lacey wants to go to beauty school and get a business degree to help her manage her own salon. Paisley, in true, spunky cowgirl Texas fashion, is the drummer for a country rock band. She is weeks away from hitting the big time at the Texapalooza festival in Austin where all the bands play and some even get "discovered" by talent agents from Nashville, L.A., and New York.
Enter Gabe. He's new to town from Paradise, Texas, and answers the band's ad for a singer. Not only does he sing, he plays a mean accordian--yep, the old-timey accordian but with a hep-cat attitude and mean cowboy rocker finesse. Paisley is instantly smitten. Too bad she never knows that Cal, the guitarist, is infatuated with her. Cal writes song lyrics--included in the book--about being in love with Paisley and the heartache he feels when she latches onto Gabe--now known as Paradise to all the band members. Uncle L.V. flies a couple of small planes, and the band uses his hangar for band practice. I truly expected him to be a drug runner--he seemed silent, brooding, and plotting, but he never turned out to be the drug kingpin I thought he would be. Lacey and Paisley sneak around and their father helps cover for them.
At Texapalooza, the band blows the doors off the competition and stars are born. The surprise ending was unexpected and poignant. Girls will love Paisley and her cowgirl swagger and likely be enthralled by Paradise with his dark good looks and rock star demeanor. The cover left a lot to be desired. The cover art is ho-hum at best, and the back cover has two quotes about the earlier book--The Sweetheart of Prosper County--but no information about Paradise. The publishing company dropped the ball on packaging this gem of a story. Girls will not likely choose this book themselves--due to the cover and back cover quotes. They will miss out if they pass this one up.
Recommended grades 9-up. Sexual innuendo, mature situations, lying, sneaking around, alcohol, partying, some good old boy situations--ya'll know what I'm talking about, wink.
Recommended by Pamela Thompson, Librarian, Texas USA Visit her ya novels blog at http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/
I highly recommend this book for mature readers. Even though the story takes place in a small Texas town, the situations the characters experience could happen anywhere. You will get caught up in the story.