Sunscreen & Coconuts by Eliza LentzskiSunscreen & Coconuts by Eliza Lentzski is a lovely vacation story that shows us sometimes the greatest people happen when you stop playing it safe. This is Lentzski’s first publication in a little over a year, and she has proven that great story-telling is worth the wait.

Mercy Lewis has always been cautious. She has enjoyed life only in moderation, and she doesn’t indulge in anything frivolous. When she’s talked into taking a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to a tropical island, with her friend, Racy, Mercy sees no reason why she needs to change who she is just because the weather is warmer. On the island of Curacao, she meets Kate: a beautiful coconut painting, sunscreen wearing expatriate who is able to get under Mercy’s skin in more ways than one. Mercy doesn’t see any future with Kate, yet her heart and her body don’t want to listen to her brain. Will Kate get Mercy to throw caution to the wind? Or will they only have this brief moment in paradise?

The Characters

Mercy Lewis is not a risk-taker by any means. As a school teacher in the public school system, she must be constantly aware of how her actions maybe viewed. She doesn’t party, she doesn’t spend extravagantly, and she doesn’t do anything spur-of-the-moment. While this makes her seem dull and shy, she is far from it. Mercy is also kind, considerate, and truly looks for the best in people. She just needs the right person to draw out her impulsive side. And that person is Kate Emerson.

Kate’s gives off the impression of a carefree spirit. She spends her days selling painted coconuts, wears baggy Hawaiian shirts, and rides a scooter that has seen better days. Mercy doesn’t think much of her when she first sees Kate. Below the surface, however, Kate has a great love for the island she calls home, and her heart is full of generosity for those less fortunate. While she may hide her true self from Mercy in the beginning, Kate understands that Mercy is someone who can bring out the best in her.

The Writing Style

I have been a huge fan of Lentzski’s for a long time, so I’m quite familiar with her writing style. She always writes in first person and deals with subjects that may not be overly welcoming to some readers. Here, however, she has taken a step back from the dramatic and shows her a knack for comedy. The interactions between Mercy and Kate are laced with mirth and laughter as they navigate each other’s quirks. The banter is witty, the conversations are charged with sexual tension, yet they still hold Lentski’s signature style of showing the messiness and gloriousness of falling in love.

The Pros

I loved how Lentzski gave us a broader view of the island of Curacao. Because she has them staying at an all-inclusive resort, she could’ve easily allowed Mercy and Kate’s interactions stay within the confines of the resort. Yet, she allowed them to go out onto the island and truly experience the culture and the flare. I feel by doing this it allowed Mercy to fall in love with the island and aid in her decision on starting a relationship with Kate.

The Cons

Racy really needed to be a better friend to Mercy. Yet considering Racy’s actions lead Mercy to Kate, it’s understandable why Mercy let her off the hook.

annas favourite booksThe Conclusion

Lentzski is an impeccable writer who keeps getting better and better. Whether she’s tackling taboo subjects, taking on the apocalypse, or broadening her repartee into romantic comedy, she has shown her talent time and again.  It does my heart good to see Lentski stretch her writing chops. I see her writing successfully in any genre for a long time.

Excerpt from Sunscreen & Coconuts by Eliza Lentzski

The tiki bar’s lights flickered above our heads. “Last call, ladies,” Jimmy announced. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

I experienced a moment of panic. “My friend said she was going to meet me here after they finished.”

Jimmy shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you, senora. But I’ve got to close up shop.”

“I’ve got a place,” Kate announced.

I turned my head to appraise her. “Are you bragging about homeownership, or is that an actual offer?” I posed.

She picked up her glass and drained the rest of her drink. “It’s not much, but at least you wouldn’t be sleeping on the beach tonight.”

I swallowed hard. I hadn’t even thought about that. I’d been so annoyed that Racy had locked me out, I hadn’t considered the short-term consequences. Who knew when and if Racy would unlock the deadbolt?

Kate hopped up from her barstool. “Come on. I’m parked out back.”

“You’ve been drinking,” I admonished. “You shouldn’t be driving yourself let alone another person.”

She lifted her empty well drink. “It’s seltzer and lime. I haven’t had a real drink all night.”


I’d officially ran out of excuses.

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