Book One in the From Kona with Love series depicting multicultural romance, love, loss, and redemption woven into a family saga set in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Though connected, each installment can be read as a standalone.
After Andrea “Andie” Matthews chooses her career over a marriage proposal and then loses a promotion she worked so hard for, she jumps at the chance to take a break and help run a friend’s coffee shop.
Alone in Hawaii, Andie befriends the staff and quickly grows to care for them, making her determined to revive the company.
As luck would have it, she meets the mysterious Warren Yates on Christmas Eve. They share a cup of coffee, some conversation, and even a moment, which leads to many more in the coming weeks.
When Andie learns who Warren really is—and what he actually wants—she is torn between her feelings and his deception.
But will Warren be able to win her heart back?
I'm not sure exactly how to categorize this debut collaboration between Gomez and Polaha. It doesn't really fit into one particular type and I guess that's part of its appeal. It's a blend of family saga, women's fiction, and travelogue, with a closed-door, romantic thread woven throughout.
Though there are other characters who take their turn in the spotlight, this book really is Andie's story. Her character is the one with the most to lose, and the most to gain. She evoked deep emotion in me from the beginning of her journey and kept me fully invested from start to finish. I appreciated her flaws and the fact that the authors gave her no easy answers but allowed her to stumble, pick herself back up, then grow and learn from each experience along the way.
In Chapter 34, the viewpoint of the story suddenly switches from Andie to Warren. Though I had been wanting to dig deeper into his character, and am glad for his viewpoint, the switch is abrupt and disruptive of the flow of the overall story. I eventually got back into the rhythm but I think it would have been more impactful if his story had played out alongside Andie's as they got to know one another. For me, telling their stories separately, to the reader, rather than the characters opening up to one another, lessened the emotional connection between them and while I liked them, individually and together, I wanted that deeper connection.
In many ways, this book is a love letter to Hawaii and that is where it really shines. The island breezes, pounding surf, the misty mornings, dense rainforests, glorious sunsets, welcoming people, and cultural traditions. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of hidden spots and local treasures off the tourist track. The Aloha spirit is alive and well in this book, taking me back to one of the most enjoyable trips I've ever taken. If you've been to Hawaii, the pictures these authors so beautifully paint with their words will immerse you in vivid memories of those mystical, magical islands. If you haven't, reading this book will almost certainly have you checking out vacation opportunities for when travel is safe again.
Overall, while I wanted a bit more depth from the romance, I enjoyed this first book from Gomez and Polaha and am looking forward to more stories in the From Kona With Love series.