Summer at Paradise Ranch is a Young Adult tale that takes place in majestic Hawaii. Against her will, Lexi leaves Seattle to spend the summer with her estranged mother and new step-father. She spends the summer making amends with her mom, exploring the island of Maui with new friends and enjoying the horses on her family’s ranch. There is also a certain local boy who makes this Summer one to remember. By the time she needs to return to the Mainland, she finds herself wanting to stay.
There are several characters in this book, and I enjoyed getting to know Lexi and her new friends. It was fun looking in on the teen culture on Hawaii from Lexi’s point of view. She immersed herself in the island life – surfing, hula dancing, beach parties. The community bands together to search for some horses that disappear from her family’s ranch. There are a few obstacles keeping the summer a perfect one, but each challenge is overcome, giving Lexi life lessons as she comes of age.
I think any teen or young adult will identify with Lexi and her struggles with her blended family, high school sweetheart and summer crush.
Synopsis for SUMMER AT PARADISE RANCH by R. Barri Flowers
Four months shy of turning sixteen, Lexi Montoya was still trying to come to terms with her parents’ divorce and her mom’s remarriage to a man she met online, relocating to Maui, Hawaii.
Choosing to remain with her dad in Seattle, Lexi had planned to spend her first summer since the divorce hanging out with her boyfriend, Matt, and best friend, Robin. But her dad had other plans, insisting she spend the summer visiting her mom and stepdad at his ranch called Paradise Ranch in Wailuku, in west Maui.
Lexi went there with an attitude. Then she meets a cute Hawaiian guy named Mitsuo, is thrown into a love triangle, become friends with a teen girl living on a ranch next door, April; rides her first horse– an Arabian mare named Poppy– learns to hula dance and surf, and finds herself embroiled in a dangerous rescue mission when Poppy and another horse named Casper go missing from her stepfather’s ranch.
By the time her tropical summer adventure comes to an end, Lexi hates to leave Maui and say goodbye to Mitsuo. But can she stay when Matt is waiting for her back at home to pick up where they left off? Or will he lose her to a summer romance?
SUMMER AT PARADISE RANCH is a great coming of age adventure with young romance and mystery in paradise. Now in eBook, print, and audio.
Watch the book trailer: http://youtu.be/ovKiOuEIANY
It was the last day of school before summer break and Lexi Montoya was leaning against her locker facing her boyfriend, Matt Holloway. Next to Lexi was her best friend, Robin Forrester, who was facing her boyfriend, Dirk Watson. Just four months shy of her sixteenth birthday, Lexi hated the thought that instead of spending summer vacation in Seattle, where she lived and had her friends to hang out with, she was being forced by her dad to go visit her mother in Hawaii.
The same mother who had abandoned her nearly a year ago, divorced her dad, and married a man she’d met on the Internet. In Lexi’s way of thinking, she was in no hurry to see her mother again—certainly not anytime soon. But her father had other ideas, believing it would be good for her to try to repair the relationship with her mother. Lexi suspected that he had an ulterior motive for sending her packing to Maui. Her dad had a new girlfriend, whom she believed he wanted to spend more time with—minus the presence of a teenage daughter to mess things up.
The notion of being an ocean way from Matt for an entire summer annoyed Lexi. But she had no choice in the matter.
It didn’t set well with Matt either. “That sucks!” he complained as she broke the news to him, gazing down at her with deep blue eyes.
“I know, right,” Lexi told him, flipping her long brown hair over her shoulder.
“What am I going to do without my best friend?” Robin complained, her forehead creasing above thin brows.
Dirk rolled his eyes. “Are you kidding me? Who wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii for an all-expense paid trip to paradise?”
“Uh me,” Lexi said. “Especially when my life is right here.”
“And it’ll be here when you get back,” he said. “But going to Maui…wow. Maybe my mom should try to hook up with someone there. My dad probably wouldn’t care too much, since she’s always complaining that he never pays attention to her anyway.”
Robin frowned. “That’s not very nice.”
Dirk shrugged. “Hey, I’m just saying.”
“Maybe I should give you the ticket then,” Lexi suggested. “You can go in my place and I’ll stay at your house, with my dad totally clueless.”
Dirk laughed. “I think Matt would probably have a problem with that.”
Matt ran a hand through his thick brown hair. “I’d have more of a problem if she met some surfer dude in Hawaii and decided to kick me to the curb and never come back.”
Lexi met his eyes in earnest. “That’s not going to happen,” she promised. “No surfer dude could ever take your place with me.”
“You sure about that?”
“Positive. I’ll just be going through the motions and putting up with my mom until the summer ends and then I’m back here where I belong.”
That seemed to pacify him. “Cool,” he said, grinning, before giving her a kiss.
Lexi was only too happy to kiss him back, loving the feel of his lips on hers. Besides, she wanted the kiss to be enough for both of them to last through the entire summer.
“Get a room,” Robin joked.
Blushing, Lexi broke the lip lock. “We’ll pick it up later,” she promised Matt.
“Sounds good to me,” he said.
“I just hope that in between all that fun in the sun you find the time to text your best friend and boyfriend—like every day!” Robin said.
“Definitely,” Lexi promised, even though the last thing she expected was much fun while on the island, where she was headed against her wishes.
* * *
That evening, Lexi was packing and wishing she didn’t have to, when her father came into her room.
“Can I help with anything?” he asked.
She faced him and frowned. “Yes, you can tell me I can stay home for the summer.”
“We’ve already been through this, Lexi,” he said. “You need to spend some time with your mother.”
“Why should I?” she challenged him. “She walked out on us.”
“I know and I’m not excusing that. But she’s still your mother.”
“I wish she wasn’t!”
Lowell Montoya stepped closer to his daughter, his brow furrowed. “You don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do,” Lexi insisted, or at least she did on some level. “How can you just pretend what she did to you when she ran off to be with another man is okay?”
“It’s not okay,” he said. “What she did was unforgivable. Except, at some point, you have to forgive, if not forget, and move on.”
“You mean move on to Rebecca?” Lexi shot him a cold stare. “Isn’t that really what this is about—shoving me aside so you can pretend I don’t exist, just like mom did?”
“No, honey, that’s not what this is about. I would never shove you aside for anyone, and I don’t think that’s what your mother was doing—not intentionally anyway.” He paused. “This will always be your home. My relationship with Rebecca has nothing to do with how I feel about you as my only child and someone I love dearly. You’ve always told me I need to get a life. So now I’m trying to take you up on that and see where it goes.”
“Yeah, well I’d like to do the same thing with my relationship with Matt,” she said.
“And you will have plenty of time for that,” he assured her. “Your mother’s not perfect and neither am I. She’s reached out to you. Just give her a chance.”
Lexi fixed him with teary eyes. “And what if I hate it there?”
“Then you can come home. But I’m pretty sure that, in spite of your beef with your mother and desire to stay in Seattle, there will be plenty of things in Maui to keep you occupied.”
“I hope so,” Lexi muttered, though all she could really think about at the moment was being forced to face the mother who had turned her back on her.
He wrapped his arms around her and Lexi rested her head against his chest. I know I have to do this, she told herself reluctantly. Otherwise, she might never find out why her parents’ marriage failed when she hadn’t seen it coming. Or would her mother not even bother to tell her side of the story?
R. Barri Flowers is the bestselling author of young adult novels, including OUT FOR BLOOD, COUNT DRACULA’S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, TEEN GHOST AT DEAD LAKE, GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY, DANGER IN TIME, and CHRISTMAS WISHES: Laura’s Story. His novels can be found in print, eBook, and audio. In addition to bookstores, many of the titles can be found at public libraries across the country.
The author has also written a number of bestselling teen and young adult related nonfiction books as well, including RUNAWAY KIDS AND TEENAGE PROSTITUTION, KIDS WHO COMMIT ADULT CRIMES, and CHILDREN AND CRIMINALITY.
Follow R. Barri Flowers on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, LibraryThing,Flickr,and www.rbarriflowers.net. And learn more about the author in Wikipedia.