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Book Review, Character Interview and Giveaway: Last Vacation by Sarah Elle Emm

About the Book:
Seven days have passed since Naples real estate agent Megan MacKenna has heard from her twin sister, Madeline, who was vacationing on the beautiful, Caribbean island of St. Croix. Though authorities are not convinced there is a case to solve, Megan knows with all of her heart something happened to Maddy. When Megan receives a direct warning to leave the island or end up like her sister, she turns to the only person who has taken her seriously since she arrived, Gabe, a breakfast cook at a local diner. 

Undercover DEA agent, Gabriel Walker has been building his cover for months, waiting for the opportunity to work his way into the infamous Torrez crime ring. When Megan shows up asking questions and Gabe realizes her twin’s disappearance might be linked to the Torrez men, he has to convince her to go back to Florida before she becomes their next victim. 

The closer Megan gets to the truth, the more Gabe begins to suspect he is missing a huge piece of the puzzle. And someone is closing in on Megan…

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Book Review:

Last Vacation by Sarah Elle Emm is the first book by the author that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed travelling to the beautiful, Caribbean island of St. Croix where not only romance but danger and solid suspense awaited me!

Megan McKenna is as different from her easy going, free spirited twin, Maddy as the sun is different from the moon but one thing that makes them the same is the love that they share for each other. So when Maddy goes missing, Megan leaves everything behind to find her sister even if it means tackling with dangerous people and facing the wild looking but still irresistibly alluring and enigmatic cook, Gabe who is the only one ready to help her in her twin's search.

I was first intrigued by the title of the book and then the blurb which are both interesting and teasing enough to catch a reader's attention. The cover is also beautiful and sure to attract attention.

The plot is conceived and executed meticulously and Sarah had me engaged in the story right from the start. The prologue had me cringing, then feeling horrified along with sorry for the victim but still caught in the scene and eager to know what led to this. The arrangement of the scenes is noteworthy that had me not only entertained but rightfully intrigued.

The author's writing style is expressive, simple and engaging. She was able to create vivid mental pictures in my mind and had me feeling like I was visiting St. Croix with its peace, beauty and then the hidden ugliness of crime. She gives the reader a realistic picture and shows the dual sides of everything whether bad or good.

The characterization is admirable and the characters in the book are complex people with their own stories that have shaped them into the people they are today. Megan seemed snobbish and stuffy at first but then also showed her loving and caring self with just as much ease. Gabe is a loyal, responsible and just as easily the hunk who had my heart palpitating and me wanting to meet him. The chemistry between these two was both fun to read about and also charged enough that I was left rooting for a happily-ever-after for them.

Maddy and Megan's differences in nature and then their changed perspectives about life from their individual experiences is so beautifully brought to life in the book. Their aspirations, expectations and a past that though same, still made them into two poles apart people is both emotional as well as a learning experience for us, readers. I got misty eyed numerous times while reading the book and also learned so much from observing these two sisters.

The best characters are the villains and the contrast in their characters plus their motivations in committing crimes is again a great character study. Kudos to the author who not only made these people seem real with their own flaws but also seem humane with their own moments of goodness.

The story is fast paced with the thrill of danger and suspense; romance and an emotionally charged story that had me glued right till the end.

All in all, Last Vacation by Sarah Elle Emm is an entertainer that had me engaged throughout. I recommend the book to all lovers of action and romantic suspense. 4.5 out of 5 to it and I know I will be reading more from Sarah Elle Emm in the future.

I received the book from the author and the tour organizers and I am very thankful to them. The above review is my honest and unbiased opinion and in no way influenced.

Character Interview with GABRIEL:

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
I’d pinch myself to see if it was real. My only mission since the night my family was murdered has been to bring to justice the man responsible for their deaths. Awake or asleep, my determination to bring down the Torrez Empire is always on my mind. But if I could spare a moment to enjoy myself, I would go for a swim at St. Croix’s Haypenny Beach. The turquoise waters and white sand are like something from a dream. Abuela always says the salt water can cure anything. Too bad it can’t bring down Torrez.

If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?
Hands down, I’d spend the day with my Mom, Dad, and sister, Abigail. Ever since the night they were murdered, I’ve been haunted by the memories of them. What I’d do to see them. I wouldn’t even care about Abigail’s problems for once. I’d just enjoy seeing her. And our parents.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? And, what is your current state of mind?
Perfect happiness would be seeing Victor Torrez arrested and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for all of the deaths he is ultimately responsible for. Until that happens, I am not sure I can find peace…or be completely happy. It drives me, day after day, to keep trying to bust him. I won’t give up until it’s over.

What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue and why? 
Hhmm…maybe tolerance. Is that a virtue? I think tolerating ugly things about the world is almost like ignoring them. I wish my parents hadn’t tolerated the things my sister was doing when she first started running with a bad crowd. Maybe if they had intervened sooner, she might not have become an addict.  Maybe if people didn’t look the other way when Torrez or one of his guys does something illegal, he wouldn’t have become so powerful. 

Tell us 3 things about yourself that the readers do not know about.
Lately, I’ve been undercover, and no one would suspect that:
- I love to read. 
- I actually own clothes, nice ones, without holes in them, and I keep those back in Florida. 
- My lifelong pursuit to bring the Torrez Empire down is wearing me out emotionally and mentally. Still, I can’t let it go. And I feel like I’m close to something big happening. I won’t give up until it’s done. Period.

Read an Excerpt:

Gabe sighed as he glanced over the report again, wishing he could just make her leave the island. Megan was about to be way in over her pretty little head. Everything the DEA had dug up on the two sisters verified that Megan had been completely honest with him at Captain Sully’s. The twins were identical in looks and opposite in behavior. 
The missing twin, Madeline, had never owned anything, never gone to college, never had had a job for more than a few weeks, and a trail of travel receipts since the age of eighteen, revealed she had been all around the world, basically living out of a backpack as she went. Travel records showed a stop now and then back to her sister’s place in Naples, but Madeline never stayed for long. 

The report further revealed the tragic, mountain climbing accident of the twins’ parents when the girls were only eleven-years-old. The parents had left the twins in their paternal grandparents’ care, the MacKennas, six months of the year for their adventure trips. Until the accident, after which the grandparents were granted full custody. The remainder of their youth was spent living in a small farm community outside of Naples in Immokalee, Florida, at the farm their grandparents helped run. Two years earlier, their grandfather had passed away, and Megan had moved Lynn to the retirement home in Naples. 

It was easy for Gabe to conclude, especially after the brief conversation in Captain Sully’s, that Megan had chosen a calculated, rational existence not like the adventuresome nature of her parents, and Madeline had chosen to follow in her parents’ footsteps. Yet this time, her carefree lifestyle had landed her in the company of real bad guys. The kind that killed to protect their lifestyle. If he didn’t get this message across to Megan, she could end up like her twin. Missing. 

And more than likely, dead. Gabe noted Megan’s hotel and room number, then pulling a lighter from his pocket, set the report ablaze. He dropped the burning papers into the street barrel and made a decision. He was going to pay Megan MacKenna a visit. 

About the Author:

Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT, September 2014, NACREOUS, August 2015) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her family. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.

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