Monday, February 13, 2023

Book Review: It Takes Two to Mango by Carrie Doyle (Trouble in Paradise! #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Plum by the end, great setting
Cons: Plum is extremely hard to like at the beginning 
The Bottom Line:
Vacation rental
With a very dead body
Unlikeable Plum

Plum’s Reset Gets Off to a Rocky Start

I’ve been eyeing the Caribbean cruise I took in January for quite a while, and I’d been holding It Takes Two to Mango for the trip. After all, reading a cozy set in a Caribbean resort during a Caribbean trip is perfect, right?

Plum Lockhart has been successfully climbing the magazine ladder for years, and she is loving her latest gig as an editor at a travel magazine. However, the industry is struggling, and she finds herself the victim of corporate layoffs. An offer from an old contact takes her down to the Caribbean Island of Paraiso for a career change. The January weather sure beats the weather in New York City, and how hard could it be to rent out the properties?

However, the welcome she gets is less than friendly. Her co-worker throws impossible tasks at her. And her first booking turns into a nightmare when one of the guests is found dead next to the hot tub one morning. Did Plum make the right decision?

Let’s start by discussing Plum. When we first meet her, she is stubborn, egotistical, fashion obsessed, entitled, and arrogant. And those are her good points. Yes, I’m using some adjectives that mean the same thing here, but she really is that bad. I see the argument popping up quite regularly about whether characters need to be likeable. Plum is exhibit A that yes, they do. I came extremely close to setting the book down about 30 pages into it and writing the series and the author off. She was that obnoxious. And yes, I was expecting that this was set up for some character growth, but it was still extremely unpleasant to read. She does have backstory to try to explain what why she behaves like she does, but it wasn’t enough to get me to care. 

There are also a few things that should have been edited for clarity, especially at the beginning. But they are minor; it’s was mainly Plum that was making me want to set the book down. I’m stubborn, so I kept reading.

The book takes a little bit to get Plum down to the fictional island of Paraiso, and meeting these supporting characters started to make me more interested in the story, although I still really was annoyed by Plum. Then the mystery kicked in and I was very intrigued to find out what was happening. There are some enjoyable twists to the story. 

It helped that the rest of the cast was made up of characters that we love or love to hate. I have no problem with unlikable characters in the supporting cast because you can easily root for them to get a comeuppance. There are several of them here. But there are others I quickly came to care about.  And we do get the character growth in Plum we needed. 

Of course, the beach resort setting is extremely appealing. Even reading this on vacation, I wanted to escape into the setting and stay. 

So here’s the shocker, especially for me. By the time I was finished, I decided I had enjoyed the book enough to give it another chance. Yes, I did like Plum enough by the end. I hope the character development has stuck around in book two. 

If the setting and premise appeals to you, give It Takes Two to Mango a chance. Just be very patient with the beginning and you’ll be rewarded in the end. 


  1. I bet this was fun to read this while on your cruise!

  2. I'm glad you ended up enjoying it. I'm not sure I would have had the patience.

  3. That's too bad the beginning was a bit slow and the main character was unlikable. I'm glad to hear she improved by the end of the book. I'll have to look for the 2nd book.


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