I wanted to read more books from Simone Elkeles and found this series after reading Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. I thought I give the Leaving Paradise series a try after reading a couple of good reviews on it. Leaving Paradise has the same first-person-narration-alternating style between Maggie and Caleb.

Leaving ParadiseLeaving Paradise started with Caleb getting out of juvenile detention. He was convicted for drunk driving and causing Maggie’s hit-and-run accident. Maggie was lack of self-confidence and very self-conscious after the accident. She will be limping for the rest of the life and always reminded about the accident by her scars on her leg.

The interaction between Caleb and Maggie is so realistic. The emotions ran high-strung throughout the book. Mrs. Reynolds was my most favorite character within the book. She is a charming old lady full of life experiences. Simone Elkeles did a fantastic job telling the story.

Return to ParadiseI can actually feel the build-up for something big towards the end of the book. Caleb was actually hiding a huge secret about the accident. After reading this book (4.5 stars), I have to read the next book right away to find out more on Caleb and Maggie’s story. The author left the ending wide open.

If I was walking around the bookstore, Return to Paradise will not get my attention unlike Leaving Paradise. That being said, the story wasn’t as good as Leaving Paradise either. Leaving Paradise ended with Caleb leaving Paradise with a big secret but Maggie know the truth. She wanted Caleb to admit the truth so both of them can get past the barrier of their love.

Fate and destiny have better idea. Caleb was arrested again and his transition counselor (better term for parole officer) made a deal for Caleb to avoid jail time by joining the Re-START program. Little did Caleb know, Maggie was in the program too as a last minute replacement. There is no other way for him to run. The story continued with the hot-and-cold relationship but it wasn’t as good as the first book. I would give this book 3 to 3.5 stars.

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