Have I ever mentioned how much I like romance novels? Romance is my comfort genre and I’ve been a fan for a loooooooong time, but haven’t read any in the last few months. This week, however, I needed a chance of pace from the YAs I’ve been devouring and this self-published romance novel was what I picked up.
Anna, a thirty-year-old teacher, takes a summer job in the Maldives tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J., who is supposed to spend the summer catching up from the school he missed when in the hospital with cancer. They crash-land onto a deserted island and fight for their lives. After a few years of living stranded together and being friends, things take a turn for the romantic…
On the Island is a gem of a romance novel. It didn’t feel formulaic, like many romances do. I understood why Anna and T.J. were attracted to one another and why they fell in love. I rooted so hard for them and just had to know what happened to them. Could they survive the desert island? Could they survive if they made it back to the real world? Could they overcome their age difference? I could not put this book down. It kept me reading late into the night and I kept giving my husband dirty looks when he dared to interrupt my story!
Apparently I am a sucker for survival-on-a-desert-island stories. I had no idea, but the survival scenes were some of my favorite parts. Anna and T.J. have to fight against the extremities of nature (sharks, thunderstorms, possibly-rabid bats, etc.) to find food, water, and shelter. I have to say, if I ever get stuck on a desert island, please please please let it be with someone who has watched enough Bear Grylls to make a fire. (Also, it wouldn’t hurt if he was a hot younger man.)
Which brings me to the whole age difference thing. Anna and T.J. don’t begin a romantic relationship until T.J. is nearly 19 and Anna is 32. It’s a big age difference, but there’s not really anything sinister about the situation as it is two consenting adults. Anna is not always comfortable with the age difference and worries a lot about holding T.J. back. On the island, though, the two are forced to be equals, so age is far less important than it might be in American society.
The story is told from alternating points of view, Anna’s and T.J.’s. This was another great part of this book, as I liked getting to see both sides of the love story. It was also hilarious that T.J. thought pretty much how I’d expect a 19- or 20-year-old boy to think. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the book as much or have bought into the love story as much if I hadn’t gotten see things from T.J.’s perspective. He’s a seriously great romantic lead, willing to do whatever he can for Anna. And Anna is a good character, too. She knows what she wants out of life and isn’t afraid to break her own heart to get it. The fact that they go through some tough stuff on the island really binds the two together and it is really sweet (and pretty hot, too).
There were a couple of small quirks that caught my attention while reading this book. Like the fact that the characters are constantly calling one another by name, even when it was just the two of them on the island. I am pretty sure people don’t punctuate the end of most their sentences with the name of the person they are talking to. Also, this is totally random, but both my birthday and my husband’s birthday are dates mentioned in this book.
And if “self-published” makes you pause, let me attest that this did not suffer any real formatting or editing issues. Also, let me note that this sold well enough as an ebook to make it to paperback, so yeah, for my first (accidental) foray into self-published work, I say hooray!
If you are in the mood for a romance that has a little bit of survivor adventure to it, I’d highly recommend On the Island. It’s a fun book that had me glued to the pages and is something I will definitely reread in the future!