Title: Julian’s Jungle Book
Author: Kate Hofman
Publisher: DCL Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Sonya Harrison
Ashley Fanshawe has been treated to a holiday courtesy of her generous employers. For 3 weeks she will enjoy a leisurely vacation on the Caribbean Island of Frangipani – a privately owned tropical paradise with an affluent clientele. A new job awaits Ashley back in New York and she’s determined to give it her all, but for the moment she plans to relax and paint the local scenery. The lush beauty of the island inspires her as she explores the tropical forest just beyond her private quarters. Along the way, she discovers unusual plants, exotic birds, a quiet stream – and a very handsome, very naked man taking an afternoon swim.
Julian de Castelfranco does not take kindly to trespassers and that includes Ashley Fanshawe. His failed marriage to a cheating wife has left him bitter, ill-tempered, and reclusive. Angered by the intrusion of this wandering guest, Julian sets his dog on Ashley, but to his surprise, Ashley stands her ground charming his “vicious” Rottweiler and shaming him in the process. Determined to make amends for his rude behavior, Julian invites Ashley to dine with him and assigns himself as her personal island tour guide.
Julian finds Ashley intriguing and her short stay is perfect for a no-strings-attached romance, yet all too soon her vacation comes to an end. Ashley must go back to New York and Julian has a business to run, however unforeseen events would bring Julian and Ashley together once more. Ashley may have forever lost her heart to Julian during those passionate nights in Frangipani…and perhaps Julian cares for her much more than he is willing to admit. When Ashley finds herself at the threshold of a major life changing event, she must decide to either turn to Julian and risk rejection…or simply learn to live with her cherished memories of their short time together.
JULIAN’S JUNGLE BOOK begins with an airplane flight, but the book itself never quite takes off. From the onset, Julian came off as bossy and presumptuous with moments of tenderness here and there. Ashley seemed to accept his behavior with very little pushback and for a person who is supposed to be New York savvy, she was pretty clueless. The character inconsistencies were difficult to reconcile. Julian’s internal dialogue left much to be desired and I found it irritating that nearly every character in the story felt the need to express how much of a “slut” his ex-wife was. Ashley and Julian’s conversations fell flat and the lack of an identifiable plot caused the first half of the book to drag. Things picked up once Ashley returned to New York, but not enough to save the story from the mounting pile of romance novel annoyances. There’s the innocent heroine who cries/stutters whenever she gets upset, the jerky hero who boasts of his sexual mastery yet looks down on women with such experience, and there’s even a couple of mean girls tossed in to pick on the inexperienced virgin for good measure. Overall I found JULIAN’S JUNGLE BOOK lacked the warmth and passion that readers look for in an island romance.
Though I must say, although I didn’t care much for the hero, there is one thing I did like about Julian; He had a really cool dog – in fact, the dog was my favorite character in the entire story.