Review: The Red Bikini by Lauren Christopher

Review: The Red Bikini by Lauren ChristopherThe Red Bikini by Lauren Christopher

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley on July 1, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars  

A cast aside woman and her little daughter head to the beach for a time of healing and discover that sometimes the Prince in the fairy tale arrives the second chance around and he may not be anyone’s idea of a Prince- including his own- when he starts out.

I picked up this book with the promise of a diverting summer beach read and was pleasantly surprised when it delivered so much more.  There was fun in the sun, laughter, passion and romance, but the character development, the plot, the pacing and tone gave it that little something more.  The author’s writing and the way I responded to this story had me so surprised to discover that this was a debut novel.  I loved how the red bikini, the abalone shell, and the next wave were used as symbolism to offer the evidences of healing and change in both the main character’s lives.  I was pretty impressed to say the least.

The story opens when a nearly broken and despondent Giselle Underwood arrives at her sister’s beach house while she’s away in NYC.  Her husband cheated on her and finally left with no explanation after ten years of marriage.  She tried so hard to be the perfect wife and she never met up to Roy’s expectations.  From her appearance, to her personality, her interests, to her sexuality, to her family and even their daughter, it was never enough.  But now, she and Coco are starting fresh.  Too bad, the very idea of change has Giselle hyperventilating. Her family worries about her and her sister did it one better than the house when she arranged for Coco to get surfing lessons from the young neighbor next door in exchange for Giselle photographing him and his buddies to make a brochure for his surfing school for kids, she arranged for a blind date with a ‘safe’ guy, and finally, she left a bold red bikini for Giselle.  Giselle whisks the bikini to the back of the drawer, she feels overwhelmed by Rabbit and his boisterous, friendly group and the blind date?  Well she wasn’t exactly excited about that.  But she was here to start anew so she would take a few baby steps forward and those baby steps are leading her toward the much younger and free-wheeling pro surfer, Fin Hensen.  Fin isn’t the type to want a staid middle-aged woman like her when he has all those bouncy younger women in bikinis hanging on him, right?

Fin Hensen spots the gorgeous, sophisticated, Grace Kelly-looking Giselle and knows instantly that she is the right person to take to his sponsor’s art gala event to impress them with a new image of a stable, mature surfer at the top of his game.  It doesn’t hurt that Giselle is beautiful, sweet and kind and so attractive that he can’t get his mind off her.  Fin doesn’t do relationships though so he is wary of his own plans.  It shocks him when Giselle has a bit of fake boyfriend need too when her ex pressures her into attending his dad’s funeral, graveside and wake at her ex-mother in law’s house.  The more Fin learns about Giselle’s ex and the number he did on her self-esteem and self-confidence; the angrier and more protective of her he becomes.  He needs to keep his distance since she is his best friend’s sister and not the kind of woman who does one night stands and that’s all he’s good for.  He can’t seem to stay away though.  Giselle’s presence in his life sends him into a tailspin of confusing emotions, wants and needs that he denies because of his pro-surfing lifestyle of being away traveling so much and because he doesn’t think he’s cut out for a real home and family.

This book elicited so many different emotions in me.  I found it amusing on one level, sad for Giselle and Fin, and a burning hatred for her ex, Roy.  It was heartwarming particularly when Coco was present and it got steamy without getting extremely explicit.

I really enjoyed following along as the two took turns narrating from the beginning when they are both so broken and in need of healing.  Their flaws make it tough to like them at first, but they do grow so the reader just needs to be patient.  They were beautiful together even when they were in the early stages of getting stuff sorted out.  I was cheering so hard when she finally put on that red bikini and Fin finally got up on his board in competition and rode the wave like a boss.

This is an older woman- younger man romance.  There is a bit of insecurity, but it was just enough to feel authentic without going overboard on the unnecessary drama.  I’m glad because the story already had enough legit conflict going on and didn’t need that as a distraction.  They didn’t seem that different in age when they were together because Fin is an old weary soul and Giselle had been so suppressed and under her ex’s thumb that she’s really just starting to live.

I look forward to getting Giselle’s sister’s story next.  I had so much enjoyment from this story about the little beach town of Sandy Cove and a few of its inhabitants that I can’t wait to go back for a visit.  This would definitely appeal to Contemporary Romance fans who are looking for a summer beach romance with a bit more substance.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review.

About Lauren Christopher

Lauren Christopher writes fun, sexy contemporary romances set in California’s most secret and romantic spots. …

After graduating with an English degree from UCLA, Lauren launched a 23-year career as a nonfiction writer and editor — writing more than 100 newspaper, magazine, and online articles on everything from the history of auto racing to the origins of Santa Claus.
Lauren is the author of THE RED BIKINI (July 2014) and TEN GOOD REASONS (April 2015), both set in fictional “Sandy Cove.”

She lives in Southern California with her husband and three teenage children.

Come chat with her on Facebook, Twitter, or her blog — she loves to meet readers!

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Ooo older heroine-younger hero? I love those now and again. Glad to hear it wasn’t over the top with the insecurities in that regard. That can get a bit tiresome. Thanks for the heads up Sophia! I’d not seen this one yet 🙂

    • This was a great surprise for me. I grabbed it up because of the summer-beach-surfing theme and got more than I anticipated.

  • I’ve never been a fan of the older woman-younger man troupe…don’t know why. I’d to beat her ex up, the butt head. Good she meant Fin though and her get got her confidence back. Awesome review 😉

    • I wasn’t into that trope for a while there either and still am not depending how its used in the story. I don’t like it when the age difference IS the story. Honestly, the age difference wasn’t a big deal after the first few pages in this one. Their issues were other stuff like their pasts and their issue of going different directions in life. I hated her ex with a passion. Grrr! Fin was totally good for her, but she was good for him too. Thanks!