Escapism is on the top of my reading list, making a Hawaiian vacation themed romance the prefect read. I’d like to chat a bit about Try Easy by Jill Brashear, book one in the Aloha Series.
- Heat Level: 4/6 Hearts
- Genre: Sports/Vacation Romance
- Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers
In the late 1960’s, fledgling photographer Mary Lou Hunter has always followed the rules to get the life she wants. She plans to marry her picture perfect boyfriend, live in a picture perfect house, and have a picture perfect life. When her best friend invites her on a Hawaiian vacation, Lou and her camera get a shot at something new. But when she steps off the plane and is greeting by a man with a busted lip and the broadest shoulder’s she’d ever seen, Lou realized things aren’t always perfect.
Keoni Makai is a surfing legend on his home island of Oahu. If he could, he’d make surfing his life and reclaim the sport his ancestors created, but the born and bred Hawaiians are still treated as second class citizens in their own homes. Between working at a pineapple cannery by night and surfing by day, he’s been trying to escape his demons, the ones he comes to face with nearly every day on the water. Keoni also has a rule about never getting involved with tourists, even ones who look like Lou.
As the time to Lou’s departure flight draws near, the siren song of the Hawaiian sea entangles her and Keoni in a way neither thought possible.
Try Easy was a good read and a solid travel romance that wasn’t just a cut and dry tale of holiday lust. I curled up on my back deck over several warm afternoons and drifted along the story Brashear wove happily, really never able to guess what would happen next. Every time I thought I had the ending figured out, something else came to pass that was so wonderfully human in that messy way. There was no straight shot to the last page, which was a nice change to some books where you can guess where the story’s heading.
Keoni’s experience as a native Hawaiian was also one I found particularly interesting, from a historian’s standpoint. Hawaii’s entrance into the United States wasn’t some simple signing of papers, but an overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy started by white plantation owners. The racial issues and prejudices began years before Queen Lili’uokalani was forced off her throne and continue to this day. I liked how Brashear touched upon these ongoing issues though Keoni being barred from participating in a local surfing competition, although his white friend, who wasn’t as talented as him, was formally invited.
My only issue with this book is that there wasn’t more! The time jump during Lou’s trip to Hawaii killed me. I’m a huge deal person and thrive on really being in the moment. I would have liked to see the moments between her and Kione really fleshed out, mostly since whenever they did have a scene together, I could really feel the tension between them, which I adored.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who misses the feeling of sand between their toes as they’re staying safe at home.