I just finished reading the Escape to New Zealand series by Rosalind James. Twice. In ten days. Yes, four books, two times, ten days. THAT'S how good these books were. I read all four of them, and had one of the worst "book hangovers" I've had in a long time. I tried the "hair of the dog" cure - I thought that if I started reading the first one again, I'd get over it. Instead, I was sucked right back in, and ended up reading all four of them!
The first book - Just This Once - is about Hannah, a woman in San Francisco who works too hard and spends all of her time thinking about other people. Sometimes it's her sister, forlorn over another loser boyfriend. Or it could be her brother, in another meaningless job just so he can earn money and travel to some new corner of the globe. Or it's her job, which she loves despite the fact that it sucks the life right out of her. She decides to go on a vacation to New Zealand, by herself, for three weeks.
Her third day in New Zealand, she swims in the ocean and gets caught in a riptide. Luckily, she is saved by a man in a kayak; even luckier, the man is kind, and gorgeous, and totally infatuated with her. While the attraction is mutual and obvious from the beginning, Hannah is reserved - they get to know each other (by romance book standards!) before anything happens. Once they connect, though, they have a whirlwind romance that spans two countries, and just makes you sigh with contentment. Drew is the ideal man: handsome and strong (he's a rugby player, after all!) and wealthy, but just a kind soul who wants to go hiking and snorkeling and wants to take care of Hannah.
The characters are complex and multi-dimensional. Hannah has real problems and explores them in a real way - she doesn't gloss over them with clichés, but she also doesn't moon over them for pages and pages.
I give this book four hearts. Why not five? You have to wait and see the review of book 2, Just Good Friends. :-)