In the past year I have accumulated a bunch of romance novels in my writing adventures. Many of the books I haven’t read or found there was too much telling and not enough showing. In the romance book world the cover is extremely important. It’s what sells the book. And so many of them have the stock art with the guy’s torso and woman in her bra pushing up against him. When I saw Rum Punch Regrets the colors evoked fun. There are photos of St. Kitts with art in the middle of a drink on a dock. This is a fun summer read just like the cover.
So, when I wrote for the newspaper the editor taught me that the first line has to grab the reader. When I read the first line of Rum Punch Regrets, “Everyone in the main cabin let out a surprised shout as the sputtering, tiny, too-old-to-be-flying biplane lurched suddenly to the left, then dropped about 100 feet in the air,” I thought it sounded like a movie scene. (That must be the author Anne Kemp’s acting experience influencing her.) There is action from the beginning, but I think a biplane is only a two seat-er plane. I read on and liked the melodramatic Abby and the other characters in this book—especially Ziggy. Even the perfect sister Leigh, who isn’t perfect, has her redeeming qualities.
There is a sense the reader gets that the author is writing what she knows. In the back of the book, the author does confess she was laid-off sleeping on an air mattress near a kitty litter box in the Caribbean in her nephew’s one bedroom apartment. In the book, Abby shares a cottage behind her sister Leigh’s bed and breakfast with a male character. Abby doesn’t hit it off with her roommate Ben when he is too busy to give her any respectful welcome. Abby’s a neat-freak and Ben is a slob. At first, I thought something romantic was going to happen between them since they didn’t like each other, but he has a girlfriend who helps explain Ben to Abby. Then there is an interesting twist to Abby and Ben’s relationship. Ben also introduces Abby to a younger guy, Andrew, who is a Brad Pitt look alike.
At the same time, there is J.D., who introduces himself to Abby at the bar. He’s older and has a British accent. He possibly has baggage, but he’s mysterious and sexy.
The island life is introduced to Abby by Ziggy, a local. He is very likeable and laid-back with his one liner, “You’ve got to go to come back.” His wife, Maria, is a character who helps Abby through a rough time. One of Kemp’s engaging descriptions involves Maria, “The kitchen of La Cantina could only be compared to an orchestra performing at the Hollywood Bowl on a summer’s night with Maria center stage as conductor.” There’s that Hollywood influence again from local Los Angeles-based author Anne Kemp.
Cutty is a likeable recurring tourists on the island. Abby describes him as “perverted.” One of the telling decriptions of him reads, “Cutty lit another cigarette and looked at her with such an intense stare she thought he was trying to make her catch on fire.” Abby calls him an, “old coot.” Cutty seems like the kind of man we have all met. He’s a man’s man, but liked by women too. He lives his life the way he wants—nothing fancy. He’s somebody easy to talk to and everybody knows him.
The dialogue is real-life. The characters banter back and forth. They cut each other off and finish each other’s thoughts.
There is some language, but it’s about an adventurous woman in her thirties. Or rather, Abby is thrown into an adventure. This heroine has to balance everything being thrown at her. She is a relatable character. Abby reacts to the situation with humor and decides to fix the problems.
Entwined into the plot is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Yes! I read this book last summer just before reading Rum Punch Regrets. Both are great staycation books. Kemp will take you to the Caribbean for a quick escape while Fitzgerald will make you want to have a big party. The Great Gatsby is a great movie—go see it—after you read the book.
Rum Punch Regrets keeps you guessing with three twists and an unsolved love-triangle. Now I have to read the next book, Gotta Go To Come Back. Even though it is categorized on Amazon as a Contemporary Romance, the story is more than romance. Abby isn’t living this romantic life living on a budget on a centipede infested island, but the way Kemp writes makes Abby’s crazy life, we can all relate to, sound like fun and romance.
To keep up with adventurous, Los Angeles-based author Anne Kemp visit her website and blog at Anne Kemp. Her website is beautiful and filled with her sense of humor. The blog titled The Ultimate Late Bloomer gives some insight into Kemp’s writing world. Rum Punch Regrets is available at Amazon.