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Stranger in Paradise Hardcover – June 25, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Carson Springs Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Doing what she does best, popular author Eileen Goudge has created the seemingly idyllic town of Carson Springs, along the golden coast of California near Santa Barbara. In Stranger in Paradise, the first novel in a new trilogy, the tranquil surface of Carson Springs unsuccessfully hides the murmurings of discontent; amid the gentle hum of the famous honeybee hives at the local convent, real problems exist. It's hard to believe that the wedding of Alice Kiley to her much older fiancé, Wes Carpenter, would presage the end of the comfortable existence of Alice's widowed mother, Sam, and her divorced older sister, Laura. But a dead car and a gatecrasher at the reception are only the beginning of the changes that will rock the Kiley family and the town of Carson Springs.

Sam catches a ride from the church back to the reception at her home with her new son-in-law's son, Ian Carpenter, the beach-boy-handsome artist, only to discover a hungry runaway girl named Finch stealing food. When Sam finds herself hotly pursued by a man young enough to be her son--her younger daughter's new stepson to boot--the temptation to say yes is just too great, and the encounter leaves Sam and Ian with a joint project in the making. Alice is horrified by her mother's actions, but her sister Laura is too busy trying to break through Finch's mistrust and heal her wounds to care. Sam, Alice, and Laura struggle against others' expectations of them and their own visions of each other. When a string of gruesome murders occurs, the darkness seething beneath Carson Springs' surface threatens to overwhelm the Kiley women and the men who love them. Goudge has produced another roller coaster of a read with Stranger in Paradise. Fasten your seat belts before you start this one! --Alison Trinkle

From Publishers Weekly

"A woman alone is no good to anyone" could be the rallying cry for bestselling author Goudge's kickoff to a new series, the Carson Springs trilogy (following One Last Dance). Situated east of Santa Barbara, Calif., Carson Springs and its Spanish-style architecture and orange groves provide the scenic backdrop for a tale about second chances, focusing on 48-year-old Samantha "Sam" Kiley and her daughters, Alice and Laura. As the story opens, Alice is about to marry Wes Carpenter, a Ted Turneresque entertainment mogul nearly 30 years her senior. Then Wes's son, Ian, takes a shine to Sam and the two become romantically involved, alarming Sam's daughters and setting the gossipy town abuzz. Laura, divorced because she couldn't bear children, and given to taking in strays, gets a new lease on life when she provides shelter for 16-year-old female runaway Finch, introduced to the reader in the prologue as being on the lam following a violent incident in Brooklyn. Goudge's fictional test of one of society's great inconsistencies that it's okay for a man to be with a much younger woman, but not the reverse is interesting, but the supposed scandal caused when Sam reveals she is pregnant is dated, given how increasingly common it is for older women to bear children. Despite Finch's dramatic appearance in the prologue, her story line is incidental, forgotten for long stretches of time and, when it is finally wrapped up, like everything else in this Fiction Lite territory, it's in a too-neat package. Agent, Susan Ginsburg of Writers House.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (June 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670899879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670899876
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,304,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a writer by day, with 16 fiction titles and 1 cookbook to my name, and wife of a film critic by night. Be careful what you tell me or it might end up in one of my novels. I come from a large family with a few skeletons rattling around in the closet. I'm also a mom and serial wife (my current husband is not my first, though he's without a doubt the last). Fortunately my friends and family are still speaking to me, and readers continue to read what I've written. Maybe because I'm not afraid to go there. So, please, pull up a chair if you dare.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
After becoming a devoted fan of Eileen Goudge with her first novel Garden of Lies. I could not wait to get started with her latest. Stranger in Paradise was a joy to read from beginning to end. I cannot wait for the 2nd book in this trilogy to come out. She took me to a place called Carson Springs and into the lives of Samantha Kiley and her two daughters. On the day of her daughter Alice's marriage to Wes, none are aware how much each of their lives will be changed by this event. Widowed for 2 years Sam finds love where she least expects and upsets both the community where she lives and the relationship she has with both her daughters. This leads them all down the path to growth and understanding. This story has it all. From family conflict, love and mysetry it grips from the beginning to the end in hopes that it all will come together and the end is no disappointment.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
At her daughter's wedding reception, Sam finds herself pursued by a sexy surfer-artist. He also happens to be the son of her daughter's new husband, and several years her junior. She throws caution to the wind and welcomes the passionate relationship despite the reactions of her family, particularly when Sam suddenly finds herself in the family way.

New bride Alice is horrified that her mother could forsake her father so quickly after his death (little did she know that there was marital tension); eldest daughter Laura is jealous because she has never been able to conceive a child, which was the catalyst for her own divorce.

Toss in plenty of quirky residents, relatives, a murder mystery, and even a precocious runaway, and you have an interesting story about starting all over and taking a second chance on love. The suspense falls flat, but the love story is engaging. Goudge manages to make her dialogue crisp and the characters believable. This is the first in the Carson Springs trilogy.
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Format: Hardcover
Eileen Goudge never disappoints her readers. She delivers well-written, engrossing books about characters you come to feel are friends. STRANGER IN PARADISE offers all this and something more--an inside look at small-town California life--which is very different from life in L.A. or San Francisco. I especially enjoyed the bee keeping nuns and the descriptions of the lush countryside. Thanks, Eileen, for another great read. Can't wait until the next book in this series.
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Format: Hardcover
I was the lucky winner of a random drawing from Eileen's website, and my prize was an autographed copy of this book. I had it read before it was released for sale. Eileen did a great job of introducing all the characters, and bringing them to life. At times I was frustrated with one or more of them, then I was cheering them on. Stranger in Paradise has elements of romance, family conflict, familial love, mystery, and humor. I can't wait for the sequel. Great job, Eileen, and THANK YOU!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Well, Eileen Goudge has done it again! She never fails to delight me with each new novel. I think this is the best yet (although the ever-so-famous "Garden of Lies" is hard to beat!). Her characters are so real, and you really care for them. Sometimes I wanted to ring the daughter's necks, but they had reason for their feelings - we could just see things more objectively than they could, which is so true to life. I am on pins and needles waiting for the sequel. I know it will take some time, as her skillfully written books are not ones that can be just churned out over night! We can always find books like that elsewhere if we so desire, but I personally would not want to. It will be well worth the wait, I'm sure!
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Format: Hardcover
Carson Springs is the pictue-perfect setting for the cast of characters in this small-town story. Fourty-eight year old Samantha and her somewhat quirky, but likeable daughters will keep readers comfortably ensconsed in this book until the very end, where they will not be disappointed. Ms. Goudge creates unforgettable characters and images without going into a lot of unnecessary detail. This "summer read" will be wonderful all year long!
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Format: Paperback
This was a well written story about a fabled town - Carson Springs - a place that I would love to visit one day, if only it were real! The author creates a tight, plot driven character study and I enjoyed it but there were a lot of characters, probably because this is a series and others will have the spotlight in future novels. This was kind of like a night-time soap-opera, a little Knots Landing, a little modern day Peyton Place...

The story centers on Samantha Kiley is a 48 year old widow with two grown daughters, one is newly married to an older man. The other daughter's husband is a big jerk and divorced her because of her inability to have children. All of the stories center on this hometown and the family history that has shaped the residents.

This book was interesting and included a murder mystery, a late in life pregnancy and gave insight into May-December romances. Although I know there will be other stories told in this series, I don't think I'll be continuing because while interesting and well paced, there was something about the writing style that just didn't draw me in.
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