Reading Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn was like catching up with a friend from high school. Though at first it appears to be just another entry in one of those massive multi-author inspirational romance series (you know, the ones that are generally so uneven in quality and so tenuously connected that they don't really go together at all), it's actually the continuation of one of Gunn's earlier story lines. As a teen, I devoured Gunn's Sierra Jensen series -- twelve short books about the ups and downs in the life of a Christian teen in Portland. Unlike Christy Miller, the star of Gunn's other teen series, Sierra's didn't end with promises of romance for the main character, and though Gunn provided glimpses of Sierra's college days in books about other characters, not until now has grown-up Sierra had a book of her own.
Sierra has been working for a missionary organization in Brazil. When she gets word that the funding has been cut for her current position, she is faced with uncertainties. The organization has another position available, but it's not one that appeals to Sierra. When a friend offers her a chance to get away, Sierra accepts. She travels to Sunset Beach, Hawaii, thinking that an island vacation should be the perfect time for a little soul searching. During her vacation, as she travels to a friend's wedding, a series of coincidences throws her in the path of Jordan, a professional photographer. First at the wedding, and then in Sunset Beach, their paths keep crossing. Sierra and Jordan find themselves both drawn to one another and compatible in their beliefs and personalities, but is this the right season in either of their lives for romance? Jordan is considering taking up a corporate sponsorship to photograph surfing competitions, a job that would mean constant travel, while Sierra's job offer in Brazil would mean isolation in a small village. Can their budding relationship endure those kinds of stresses -- and are they even willing to test it?
This is a gentle romance -- there's very little kissing, very little fighting, very little suspense . . . the tension is all internal to the characters as they decide whether to pursue a relationship. So, for those who like fiery heroines and love/hate relationships, this is not the book for you. However, I would recommend this, first of all to fans of the Sierra Jensen series, and also to people who like an uncomplicated, romantic story. Gunn's writing, at the word-and-sentence level, is not always flawless (though better by far than the common run of inspirational romances), but she has a gift for creating relatable characters, putting them in interesting situations, and describing the setting in a way that always makes me want to go for a visit!
(Reviewed from my personally purchased copy.)