I have really enjoyed the Rosalind James series Escape to New Zealand. There are 5 books in all, and each one tells a unique story of a relationship blossoming from first introduction on. The first book is Hannah and Drew’s story. It is arguably the slowest of the 5, providing the New Zealand setting and the Rugby football instruction. While the slowest of the 5, it is in no ways a negative on the book itself. In book one, Hard working Hanna meets hard working Drew, and together they learn that sometimes it is ok to relax a little bit and to have someone to share the down time with. Book 2 tells of Koti and Kate. They have a bet that he can’t be friends with a girl without sex getting in the way. It was refreshing that this couple were together for over 6 weeks before anything happened, and in the end they both end up losing the bet. This review is about Book 3, which tells the story of Jenna and Finn. She is a nanny to his children. His love evolves from watching her with his kids, watching her maternal instincts, her strong character. They bond over failed marriages and feelings of unworthy, to learn that it was only because they needed each other to heal. Again, a relationship that develops first as friends over the course of several months before it becomes anything more. Then there is Book 4 about Nic and Emma. One week six years ago was the best of their lives, but when they split apart to go their separate ways, something was left behind, something neither one ever forgot – for him it was a week of his life where he felt unconditional love for who he was, not what he could do on the field. For her it was a son, a son she is unable to let Nic know about even though she tries several times over the years. Chance brings them together again, and while Nic is getting to know his son, Emma and Nic are getting to know each other, too. Emma has to learn how to trust Nic again, even as outside forces try to make her doubt him. Last is Book 5, a dual love story with Nate and Allie, and Kristen and Liam. Kristen and Liam are secondary characters, though their relationship gets slightly less development than Nate and Allie's story. Kristen is a woman who has been used and hurt and is recovering from past failed relationships and he a recovering alcoholic recovering from a past failed marriage, learning to be strong on their own, and strong together, as this recovery takes place. Nate and Allie’s relationship takes center stage with Nate doing everything he can to ruin the relationship before it ever starts, and Allie a strong independent woman hoping he can learn to get it right.
I came across this series with book 1, a free kindle download. I did not expect to like it, especially when I realized it had a foreign setting. I expected the book to be step 1. Meet at the beach. Step 2. Have wild passionate relationship for 2 weeks. Step 3. Realize you can’t live without each other and get married. End of story. I was so pleasantly surprised that that wasn't the case with book 1, or with any of the books in the series actually. The relationships evolved. The couples courted. You got to see the relationships develop over realistic conversations and realistic events. The books that Rosalind James writes for this series all have this formula. It is refreshing to read a book that doesn't have a couple falling madly in love after 4 days together and living happily ever after. Some of these couples have real problems they have to overcome. Each of these characters stick with you long after the story is over, and it was such a pleasant surprise to have past characters pop up in each new book I read. Rosalind James made believe characters, with believable lives, in a memorable setting that made me want to learn about New Zealand and the world of Rugby Football. And as a nice little bonus, each book comes with a dictionary of common New Zealand terms so that you can see just what it is that these handsome Rugby players are saying. Try the books and you won’t be disappointed. I’m only disappointed that book 5 seems to be the last one.