4 out of 4 stars
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The island of Sao Jorge is a proverbial paradise-on-earth. When George H. Marshall III and his friends arrive after weeks of island-hopping, all they can see are the bikini-clad tourists, friendly locals, and all-you-can-drink tropical cocktails. How could life in the tropics be anything but perfect? In Marina Melee, a novel by author Lynne Hinkey, George quickly learns exactly how chaotic and imperfect island life can be when he decides to buy and manage a run-down marina. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is well-written, funny, and describes island life so perfectly that I felt I was right there in the middle of the story.
George buys the Porto da Vida Marina and Boatyard on a whim from an all-too-eager seller. He figures, why not? He doesn’t have anything else going on in his life right now. He certainly can’t go back to his father and the family business after being disgraced, yet again. And like it does to many tourists, George feels the island life and his laid-back-don’t-work-too-hard attitude will pair nicely together. What George doesn’t count on are the waves of problems that hit him almost immediately after he takes over ownership. There are pending lawsuits against the marina, boat owners not paying their slip fees, fines upon fines for environmental infractions, unreliable employees, and debt coming out of his ears. Poor George can’t even get a round of golf in without being interrupted by his employees, or worse, the island police.
Of course, a man who was a drinker and a womanizer before he moved to an island is still a drinker and a womanizer, so George wastes no time finding the best places to party, and the best (or worst) women to get involved with. But as a new business owner with actual responsibilities, George realizes he has to step up and put forth some effort and work if he wants the Porto da Vida to survive. He finds himself representing the local Marine Business Association in front of the island’s senate, and even has a more-than-uncomfortable meeting with the governor. But just as things are looking up for George and his marina, another thing goes wrong, then another, and another. It’s almost as if the island itself doesn’t want him to succeed, or perhaps it’s something, or someone closer to George who is actually pulling the strings.
Marina Melee also introduces the reader to some fabulous and colorful characters. From the Rastafarian mechanic, to the disappearing dockmaster, to the single-mom secretary running a daycare center out of the marina office, the people of Sao Jorge are what truly make it such a special place. This book is filled with fun, interesting, and surprising characters. I feel like they all have a story to tell, and I’d be honored and thrilled to hear them all.
Marina Melee is a great read for anyone who likes to look behind the scenes of island life. It’s a very easy-to-read story filled with humor, awkward encounters, beautiful descriptions, and rum – lots of rum and tropical drinks. I could easily imagine myself enjoying this book again, but perhaps this time while relaxing on a beach or a boat in the Caribbean.
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