BOOK REVIEW: PARADISE LOST
Paradise Lost is the story of the bizarre kidnapping of Holly Constantine and Vanessa Wyatt. Paradise Plaza is an exclusive, expensive health spa (fat farm) in Santa Barbara. Neither Holly nor Vanessa are particularly happy about being there. Holly is the daughter of famous Hollywood contract attorneys, Connie and Frank Constantine. Holly is nearing her twenty-first birthday and attending college at Stanford. At barely five foot tall and a perfect size 4, Connie has forced Holly on this trip to the spa. Connie is the power and aggressive partner of the practice, while her husband, Frank is the charming partner in the practice. Connie has never been much of a mother figure and left the majority of the care of her daughter in the hands of nannies, etc. however suddenly when Holly is kidnapped it becomes the trigger that finally sets Connie's material instincts into gear and she is not coping well with the lack of control in this situation. While Frank has always doted on his daughter, he is falling apart and trying to cope by consuming large quantities of alcohol.
Connie firmly believes that looks are very, very important and does not seem to understand that her daughter was born with a body that is just never going to be perfect. She is a large boned girl who at her smallest was perhaps a size 12 and seems to be happy with her weight. Vanessa is an actress who starred for years in a nighttime soap opera The Lords of Suffolk. When the show was cancelled, Vanessa went a good while without work and has finally just completed a new movie. She is at Paradise to skim off a few extra pounds to look her best at the debut of her new movie.
Holly and Vanessa are kidnapped at Paradise during an early morning hike in the hills surrounding the spa. Shortly after their kidnapping a bizarre ransom request is posted on the Paradise Plaza website. Someone has hacked into their website as well as several others. The kidnappers claim to be a group called Parks for the People who are not asking for a normal ransom but for funding for three parks to be made in three separate towns in California. They claim they will not hurt their hostages and will release the first one by a certain deadline when half the ransom is met which is approximately four million dollars.
Meanwhile Holly and Vanessa are being held at a remote location which they believe may be underground with their eyes covered in duct tape and very little contact with their captors. They are quite the mismatched pair. While Holly is scared and trying to make the best of the situation and looses herself taking trips back through time in her mind, Vanessa is trying to get on her captor's good sides with seduction.
Although it may have just been my frame of mind at the time, Paradise Lost seemed to start somewhat slow but the pace did pick up and quite a good read. I really enjoyed the characters. It was quite interesting to see the interactions of two such different personalities as Holly and Vanessa. It was also something to be able to read and believe a mother finally finding her maternal instinct that late in her child's life. I look forward to other books by Taffy Cannon.
REVIEWED BY GINA METZ
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