There’s certainly no false advertising in this book’s title. Readers will indeed find a tale that delves into the search for love, spirituality and happiness—with a Hawaiian twist.
The novel tells the story of Jonathan Foster, who grew up rich and privileged in Houston. After graduating from college, Jonathan finds himself unhappy and unfulfilled; he lives in the family mansion and works in the family business, but doesn’t share his family’s obsession with wealth and status.
While on vacation in Hawaii, Jonathan meets Oliana, a beautiful native Hawaiian college student. He’s instantly attracted to her, but Oliana is leery of Western men. Her family has warned her they don’t understand how spiritual traditions and a love of nature shape Hawaiian beliefs and lifestyles. Nevertheless, Jonathan and Oliana fall in love, and within a month, they’re married and living in Jonathan’s parents’ house in Houston. But as Jonathan becomes more entrapped in the corrupt family business and Oliana is pressured to become a society grand dame, their happiness erodes. To rekindle it, they both must follow a spiritual quest.
The plot is familiar to anyone who’s ever read a romance, but the author enlivens it with descriptions of Hawaiian traditions. Readers learn, for instance, the history of hula dancing, and how it began centuries ago as a type of storytelling for a culture that had no written language.
The author is at her best when describing these traditions and the Hawaiian scenery. Her use of imagery elevates the story, and her evocative language helps readers become invested in the characters. Unfortunately, the dialogue isn’t as accomplished. In particular, the author’s frequent use of repetitive attributions feels amateurish and detracts from the flow of the story. (One of many examples: “‘That’s true,’ she said agreeing with him.”)
Nonetheless, this book is a cut above a traditional romance overall and will appeal to readers who enjoy learning about spirituality and Hawaiian lore.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.