Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Reviews, Giveaway: The Trouble With Eden and Wild in Paradise by Leslie Pike

Cover designed by : Kari March at L23 

Release Date: November 11, 2015


A movie set is a great place to test one’s endurance for temptations.  They’re all there for the taking. A person can get away with their indulgences. For Finn Kennedy, Father Paul Cruz and Esme Scott, things are about to get very tempting.

Finn Kennedy is flying high, after his hit comeback film. He’s slayed his personal dragons, and with his Irish good looks and penchant for play, he’s catnip to women. For Finn, there’s no reason to settle on one, when there are so many to be sampled.

Father Paul Cruz is burned out from his years as the Catholic chaplain at San Quentin. He’s been a priest for all of his adult life, and he’s questioning that choice. Father Paul has never enjoyed the less cerebral pleasures of life. A sabbatical is what he needs. When best friend Finn is cast in a film about a Jesuit priest, he gets Father Paul hired on as a consultant. His world is about to be rocked.

Esme Scott’s a young woman running from an abusive husband. She’s on her own for the first time, and trying to make her way. When she gets a job as the Wardrobe assistant on the film, she discovers just what she’s been missing, personally, professionally and sexually. And she finds out just how much it takes, to correct past mistakes.

Beautiful Park City, Utah is the setting for Wild In Paradise, the second book in the Paradise Series.



They say luck is a lady. I think they’re right. Women have given me second chances before, chances I didn’t deserve. Lady Luck was no different. She resurrected this Irish soul from the ashes of my bad decisions. This limousine that I’m comfortably cocooned in confirms it’s so.

A decade ago my pass at fame had slipped through my fingers. I had a minor role in one hit movie, which by some miracle became a cult classic. I had ten lines at most, but people connected with me. I was the fireman who rescued the ingénue. My one close-up and the line, “Give me your hand, darlin’ and I’ll take it from there,” was remembered. Then it all went bad.

I’d had a brief ride on the carousel and reached for the brass ring, only to feel the metal brush my fingertips as I moved by in a haze of tequila and cocaine. Noticed by few, then quickly forgotten, I had become a footnote in Hollywood’s history book and a fading image on a few reels of celluloid.

What a fool I’d been. I became a regular in the “Whatever Happened To?” articles, where they would compare my looks in before and after photos. The comparison was not good. I not only lost my career and my dignity, but I lost my wife. Bliss finally got tired of living with a husband who was frequently too stoned or hammered to know whose bed he was in. Any attempt at trying to get me to stop drinking and using was met with contempt. I didn’t deserve Bliss. After a time, she came to agree with me completely.

The day she walked out I felt a pivot. The seat of my reason nudging at me, like a finger poking me in the chest. I kept using and drinking myself stupid for a few months, but it was never as satisfying. I kept chasing the high, but I couldn’t catch the same intoxication. I became aware of the lesser man I had become. Conscience is the most effective buzz kill.

Then I began tallying up the costs of my addictions. You can’t ignore your own thoughts. I couldn’t, anyway. My better self was disgusted and let me know on a regular basis. Every day I’d wish that asshole would shut the fuck up. But he was unforgiving. And in the end, I saw the truth. As good as drunk is, it always ends in thirst.

Now, by life’s artfully twisted itinerary, Bliss and I find ourselves friends. She in love and engaged to Steven French, a man I’ve come to respect, and me six years sober and enjoying another go around on the carousel. And rightfully, satisfyingly single. Life can be such a grand unpredictable bitch. So tonight this limousine is more than a ride. It’s a magic carpet, carrying me back to a place I’ve missed, a place I belong. I got another chance. This time I’m not going to piss away the opportunity.

I pull out my cell to check my messages. Seventeen missed calls and six texts. Ironic, to think a few years back I’d go days without a call. The only name that consistently popped up was my coke dealer, Grandma, as listed on my phone. If someone had read my recent calls back then, they’d have thought I was the best bloody grandson in the world. I scan the list of names. Carl is the only one I’m looking for. I always return my dad’s calls, no matter the hour. He’s alone, but not interested in leaving his Bay Area home of forty years, to come live with me. Moving to Los Angeles is not an option as far as he’s concerned. We’ve had that conversation many times.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

“I became aware of the lesser man I had become.  Conscience is the most effective buzz kill.”

“You mean all the times you hid your bits and bobs from me when we were kids, it was because it was too big?  All this time I thought you had a teeny tiny gherkin.”

“He’s got such a happy look on his face.  Like he’s plotting a bank heist and just found out the safe’s unlocked.”

“It’s the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.  I half expect a spark of stardust to glimmer off his teeth.”

“I’m certain every woman he meets enflames, and then melts at the sight of him. 

“Don’t be sad.  The next chapter of our story’s going to be just as beautiful.”

My Review:

Wild in Paradise is packed with drama, there are many stories going on at once as every character seems to be traversing something major in their lives.  Heavy themes are addressed and the suspense is rather taut, yet the humor is always there - cleverly laced into the story, and it works so well.  I adore these characters, even with their cringe-worthy moments, they are all likable and lovable.  Leslie Pike is a talent to watch – closely. 

Empress DJ


BLISS NOVAK has a great life. She's happy, beautiful and financially secure. What more could she want?

Fortune has smiled on STEVEN FRENCH too. Handsome, talented and sexy, the stuntman has it all. At least that's what he believes until he meets Bliss.

When a movie production comes to Pacific Grove, these two are drawn together in a passionate romance. Their love creates their personal Garden of Eden.

But there's only one thing wrong with the Garden of Eden....there's always a snake.


My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

“Ironic, that the pleasure of life can trick us into affection, and then need.  Sun, food, sex, everything we enjoy we can enjoy too much.”

“I’m a closet singer.  I’m pretty much unmatched in the shower.”

“The sky is rouged with pinks and scarlet shades.  It’s as if this moment in time was staged for maximum effect. As if we’re in a painting…”

“I see the same smile of his face as I have on mine.  It’s as if we discovered the Fountain of Youth, the buried treasure of Sierra Madre and the location of Shangri La.”

“I’ve come to believe people are placed in our lives for a reason.  Each a teacher or a student.  You either have something to learn from them, or they from you.  Many times I find it’s both.”

“No matter how old we are, women love to talk about their boyfriends.  It’s hysterical really.  If you didn’t know we were in our thirties, you’d swear we were sixteen.”

“He just looks in my eyes.  I let the moment be still.  Something tells me to let this moment be about more than words.  And when it’s about words, to let him speak uninterrupted.”

My Review:

I was shocked and stunned to learn that this was a debut novel for the author, as it was so crisp, well-written, and expertly turned out.  I adored everything about it.  I cherished the main characters, enjoyed the story, and was totally entertained and absorbed by the plot from beginning to end.  The story was relevant, insightful, observant, believable, humorous, smartly written, and totally enjoyable.  I couldn't wait to start book 2.  

Empress DJ


Leslie Pike lives in Laguna Niguel, California, with her husband Don, and Pom-Poo Mr. Big. Before writing her novel, Leslie worked as a screenwriter on episodic television. She has traveled the world with her Stuntman/Stunt Coordinator/Director husband, on movie sets from Africa to Israel, from New York to Los Angeles. Some of her favorite things include calligraphy, long walks with her friends, and enjoying delicious food that other people have cooked!

The Trouble With Eden is Leslie's debut novel.


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