Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey (Sabrina Salter #1)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Well-drawn characters, good story
Cons: Starts off a tad slowly as pieces are introduced
The Bottom Line:
Murder of a guest
Sabrina’s past catches her
Engrossing debut




No Escaping the Past

Like everyone else, I pay attention to recommendations for new authors because it’s hard to keep up with everything coming out.  So when I heard from multiple people praising No Virgin Island, the debut from C. Michele Dorsey, I paid attention.  It took me until now to read the book, but I’m glad I did because I enjoyed it.

Sabrina Salter ran away from a past in Boston and settle on St. John in the US Virgin Islands.  There, with her friend Henry, she runs a service maintaining rental villas.  All is peaceful, and she hopes to put her past completely behind her.

Unfortunately, it all comes rushing back when she finds a dead body one morning.  Carter Johnson was due to check out of his villa today, but he checked out permanently thanks to a gunshot.  With the police and the media once again hounding her, Sabrina needs all the help she can get to survive the coming storm.  Will the real killer be caught, or will Sabrina be blamed for the crime?

This book has a bit of a somber atmosphere, contracting perfectly with the bright and sunny setting.  Sabrina, Henry, and Neil, Sabrina’s lawyer/love interest, all have pasts they hoped to escape by running to St. John, and that feeds into the tone of the book.  That tone helped captivate me and made me feel like I really knew the main characters.  The rest of the cast are sharp as well with pasts of their own that come out as the story unravels.  By the time the book was over, everyone really did feel like real people.

The story is actually told from multiple points of view with Sabrina getting the most page time.  We’re only in one person’s head at a time, so it’s always easy to follow.  It’s refreshing to get a book with a different narrative technique, and I enjoyed it.

It does mean that the mystery unravels a bit differently than in the books I would normally read.  That’s not a complaint, just an observation.  I actually figured a few twists out before they were officially revealed, but I didn’t mind because the drama I knew was coming made me want to keep reading.  And we get great climatic scenes, both for the mystery and the drama, that left my heart pounding.

I will admit that I felt like the book was starting off a little slowly.  It’s only as I got to know the characters that I appreciated all the ground work that was laid early on.  So this isn’t a barn burner right out of the gate, but it is well worth reading in the end.

Quite often when characters have pasts, we get data dumps to fill us in on this backstory, and if you haven’t noticed by now, I hate that.  By the time the backstory is presented here, we actually are curious about what happened to Sabrina, and we get bits and pieces for the others, but I have a feeling there is more to their story to learn as the series progresses.  I appreciated how this important aspect of the characters was handled.

No Virgin Island is a well done debut that promises more great books to come.  I will be hopping down to St. John as soon as I can for another visit with this great new cast of characters.

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for such an insightful review. This sounds like a great cozy tropical getaway that I must get.

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    1. Cozy tropical getaway is a great description for the book.

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  2. I loved this book (although I would have made someone else the killer).

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    1. Your recommendation was the one that pushed me over the edge toward getting it, so thanks for that.

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  3. That's good to know about the slow start. I don't mind them if there's a reason which it sounds like is the case for this one. I love the setting and that we don't get the data dump on the backstory. That can get so confusing. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

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    1. I definitely felt the beginning was worth it. Sometimes you need that set up, it's just a matter of if the pay off is there or not.

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  4. It's a great book! I'm looking forward to the second one!

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    1. I'm definitely looking forward to the second one, too.

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  5. I enjoyed this book as well. Michele is a talented writer.

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  6. Sometimes the books that start out slowing pack the most punch. :-)

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    1. Yes, if the author knows that they are doing, they use that "slow" start to pack in things you need to know to make the rest much more powerful.

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