Paradise City by C.J. Duggan Review: Cheesy Trouble in Paradise

June 1, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 1 star, Books, Reviews

Paradise City by C.J. Duggan Review: Cheesy Trouble in ParadiseParadise City by C.J. Duggan
Series: Paradise #1
Published by Hachette Australia on April 28, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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There's bound to be trouble in Paradise . . .

When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they'd send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she's sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she's thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie's not so sure.

Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie's never experienced, but all that's about to change. It's new, terrifying . . . and exciting. But when she meets Luke Ballantine, excitingdoesn't even come close to describing her new life. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one. The resident bad-boy leader of the group, he's sexier than any boy Lexie has ever known.

Amidst the stolen moments of knowing looks and heated touches, Lexie can't help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?

Paradise City. A place where dreams come true. It’s sunny, beachy and filled with hot surfers, summer flings and romance.

I should have known this book was going to be cheesy from the title. Paradise City is like a high school Sin City, where girls start wearing makeup when they’re 12 and boys hook up with a different girl a week (oh the horrors).

From Lexie’s point of view, it all seems quite scandalous and exciting. She has been home schooled on a farm all of her life, and coming into the city, her life is turned around. It becomes filled with boys, sneaking out and late night parties, and she’s never had more fun. While Lexxie had a really fresh and hilarious perspective, she was a massive bimbo. And the second she meets Ballantine, she becomes totally boy-crazy and incredibly obsessed and pines over him for the entire book.

I can see why though. Ballantine absolutely smouldered all the way through and he was a really sweet, decent, incredibly handsome guy who precedes his bad boy reputation. I had to laugh at some of the eye-rolling cheesy lines describing him though:

I found it hard to concentrate, when all I could do was think about the hot boy next to me: the rise and fall of his chest, his perfectly proportioned profile, and his ludicrously good-looking bone structure.

The romance, while it had instant attraction, did gradually develop with a lot of obstacles in the way. Frustratingly, Lexie and Ballantine would hook up, but pull away before they could seal the deal because of little rumours, interruptions or things that could be solved with communication. The love triangle was quite forced, although it made for some great snarky banter between Lexie and the prickly and broody Dean.

There’s a strange relationship between Lexie and her bitchy cousin, Amanda. From childhood friends, to competitive girl on girl hate, to a somewhat reluctant tolerance of each other, it was something that I never really got. In the boy crazy rebellious world of Paradise City, Lexie only starts to gain her cousin’s respect from breaking the rules and hooking up with boys.

A lot of judgey labelling goes on in the book as well, which I wasn’t a fan of. Everyone in the book seems to be subject to it, from Lexie writing off Amanda as a smug, bitchy rebel to thinking surfers are like the below:

“Yeah, well. I kind of imagined that you would all have long blond hair, and say things like ‘gnarly, dude’ and ‘cowabunga.”

Ballantine squinted. “I think you’re mistaking a surfer for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.” 

I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be endearing, but it just had me rolling my eyes.

Then you have this pretty awkward scene with her supposed BFF Laura, who gives her a D&M on what she thinks of Ballantine:

Lexxie: “And what? He’s a horndog surfer that usually beds the first girl he sees?”
Laura: “Well, yeah, kind of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just surprised, is all.” 

So of course after that conversation, this happens:

“After tonight I was no longer going to be a virgin. Ballantine would not get bored with me and I would not be the only freak at Paradise High that still held her V-plates”

HOWWW IS THIS OKAYYYY. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be doing with your virginity!


While I was entertained with Lexie’s hilarious and fresh perspective, I think in the end it was the cheesiness in this book that I couldn’t get past. So much of the book features Lexie pining and obsessing over Ballantine and his abs, and there wasn’t much else that happened.

The book is labelled as NA, but with teenage characters and a high school setting, it’s pretty much a YA book with sex. There was something about the juvenile writing that felt like a naughty fan fiction that I shouldn’t be reading.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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35 responses to “Paradise City by C.J. Duggan Review: Cheesy Trouble in Paradise

  1. Braine-Talk Supe

    I am seeing a pattern here, I think you should stay away from contemporary novels for now. It seems you have better luck with the fantasy ones. Or, maybe you should delve into the adult novels once in a while, it's possible thatyour taste is evolving and becoming more matured
    My recent post Liked It: If You're Not The One by Jemma Forte

    • Yeah, I'm really enjoying the fantasy and thrillers but some of the contemporaries are definitely getting frustrating. I still need to review them though!

  2. I know, I know, It WAS cheesy, but I actually really enjoyed it. It was definitely YA though, couldn't agree more. I have a feeling this series will be more of an indulgent read, cheesy, tropey but still really calls to me and I'm usually super fussy when it comes to those NA crossover type contemporaries. I think her Summer series was a much better read, really charming and also the first book is free on Amazon. Grab a copy and have a read of that Jeann, it's set in the 90's and reminded me so much of my own teen years. I can almost guarantee you'll really enjoy it. Sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this one more though, fingers crossed your next read blows your socks into next wee! Lovely and honest review nonetheless <3
    My recent post An Ember in The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir… Absolutely Brilliant

    • Hehhe I don't know…I don't think I will give those ones a shot TBH with how I went here. IT would definitely make me feel reminiscent though, but so did Ready Player One <3 Thanks Kelly, I guess this is just one of those fluff reads, we need those every now and then.

    • Lol hilarious, I didn't know anyone actually used those turns lol! Yeah, I would have given up too if I didn't need to read for review. Definitely a Mary Sue!

  3. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I see a lot of books by the same author and I just can't get into them. The summary on its own is enough for me to stay far away. These are not my kind of reads at all, kudos to you for finishing it, haha.

  4. I had a real problem with the whole virginity aspect and contradictory behavior in this book. This definitely pales in comparison to her Summer series. I actually laughed at the surfer image she had, because I can't even tell you how many times I've heard similar things from people who aren't from California. But yeah, if I read this book now, I'd probably blast it more – it caught me in a good YA mood when I first read it. lol.
    My recent post Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

    • Hahah that\’s pretty funny actually Christy with the surfer image and everything. Lol fair enough Christy.

  5. Hm, yeah I don't think this one is for me either. I can myself having lot of issues with this one. I'm not one to read bitchy characters and stories that scream 'cheesy' just aren't for me either.

    • SIIRRI! OH I MISS YOU MY DEAR. Yeah, definitely a lot of points in this one where it was like, nope. No thanks.

  6. From the synopsis for this is already a huge turn off and I already had no intention of reading this book because of that. Your review pretty much just solidified my decision. Plus you rarely give out 1 stars to books, so this must be really bad. ._. Lexie sounds like a huge judgmental elitist, and girls who feel like they HAVE to lose their virginity = NO. Awesome review, Jeann!
    My recent post Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

  7. lol this sounds a bit ridiculous…and weirdly took me back to my boarding school days (I think it was the home schooled on a rural property that did it) and then it just sounded like schoolies except…not?

    This is one I shall be avoiding, thanks for the heads-up!
    My recent post Book Review: Center Ice by Cate Cameron

    • Yeah….I dunno it was just the whole view of the world was so skewed…definitely an interesting comparison though!

  8. Kara Terzis

    This sounds . . . Yeah, I don't even have the words. I like to give books a chance, though, and I know my library recently got in a copy of this, so I don't think there's any harm in giving it a chance, right? I can TOTALLY see why you wouldn't like this one. Not sure I would, either, because some of those quotes are rather cringe-worthy, but it might surprise me.
    My recent post Sunday Weekly Wrap Up (62) &amp; Stacking the Shelves (42) | Bones, Books &amp; Catching Up on Blogging

  9. Omg. I'M LAUGHING. But, seriously, this sounds awful. I think I would probably split a few braincells attempting this because I'm very very bad with reading books that focus purely on romance. Although, to be honest…BACK IN MY DAY *rolls out granny wheelchair* teenage boys were gangly and pimply. I guess things are just different in the US? But seriously now… >.>

    • Oh I know…..I forced myself through it because I had a blog tour but even afterwards I didn't review it lol. Haha I highly doubt it

  10. I stopped reading this one at around 40% I just couldn't take the bitchiness anymore. Also, I didn't really like or enjoy any of the characters.
    You explained very well why it didn't work for you, Jeann, well done!
    Have a fantastic week and happy reading.
    My recent post Review: Becoming Rain – K. A. Tucker

    • Yeah, there wasn't any positive development in that relationship either, it just went downhill. Thank you Lexxie!