Lost Souls of Paradise


Fiction - Realistic
331 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Florida native, Ian Ritchie Stewart delivers a unique perspective on living life at the, "End of the Road"! As a Community Based Care Social Worker, Family Services Coordinator, Key West Homeless Services and transitional Shelter Manager, and long time resident of the Florida Keys, Mr. Stewart is profoundly familiar with the hidden pit-falls and challenges that lie in wait, ready to swallow the dreams of ill-prepared seekers of "Living LIFE in PARADISE". Welcome to "lost souls of paradise"!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Lost Souls of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart is an engaging story with a strong appeal for readers who enjoy sophisticated characters and stories that are psychologically and emotionally rich. It features a cast of colorful characters and explores realistic themes and experiences that are part of the life of every society. The protagonist is Jillian Dougherty, a professional nurse who is manipulated by a dubious man, Oran “Paddy” Broslen, and who goes on a drinking adventure that leaves her alone in an unfamiliar place, with her credit cards and identification papers gone. She has to make her way back to Key West alone at night. But this is just the beginning of the troubles that drive her to near madness, making her become a dropout. She reinvents herself as Chastity Marrow and eventually meets Ethan Hall, who seems respectable. Can this be a new start for her or another escapade that will leave her in dire straits?

This is a novel with a lot of interesting material for readers to enjoy, exploring the consequences of a young nurse’s naivety and how her choices affect a father who cares about her. This is a well-crafted story with characters that I loved. The female protagonist goes through a lot of suffering by trusting the wrong man. The story is written in beautiful prose and the descriptions are terrific. I enjoyed how the author allows the humanity of the characters to come out in the story. The protagonist is a character that is exciting and aroused my curiosity at different levels, making me want to know what will become of her. Her descent into psychosis is a journey of disintegration that allows her to transform herself into someone new. The narrative is done in an arresting voice and I enjoyed the complexity in the plot. There are subplots that are well-crafted and enrich Ian Ritchie Stewart’s use of suspense. The story of William Dougherty, for instance, is spice in the plot and the protagonist’s father is a character that I also followed keenly. Lost Souls of Paradise is an interesting and engaging story with characters that readers will want to follow; it feels real.

Christian Sia

Lost Souls of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart reads like a psychological thriller with faint shades of the paranormal. Jillian Dougherty is a nurse who loses everything when she falls prey to a manipulative homeless drunk, Patrick “Paddy” Oran, when he leads her to the beach. Paddy abandons her in a resort and makes off with her credit cards and IDs. She has to find her way back to Key West in the dark. Jillian suffers from psychosis, due to lack of proper nutrition and sleep. Troubled, Jillian metamorphoses into a new person, becoming Chastity Marrow from Provo, Utah, and embraces the way of life of the drop-outs. Meeting Ethan Hall, who shows interest in her, opens the door for a new adventure. Is this a moment of her renaissance or will she suffer a fate similar to what happened with Paddy?

Ritchie Stewart’s novel presents colorful and multidimensional characters, strong plot points, and a personal conflict that gives depth to the narrative. This is a spellbinding story and I found it hard to take my eyes off the protagonist. She is so real that I got irritated at her naivety as I was intrigued by her transformation. The author does a wonderful job of exploring her psychological state of mind. The strength of the narrative relies on the fact that the key character loses her identity, after being duped and robbed, and has to find her space in society — her own space. I loved the way the author writes the relationships and how the actions of the protagonist affect people in her family, especially her father, who has his unique odyssey. Lost Souls of Paradise is a multilayered story with the potential to entertain readers with different tastes.

K.C. Finn

Lost Souls of Paradise is a work of fiction in the realistic, slice of life and family drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Ian Ritchie Stewart. The work is suitable for all readers owing to the presence of only very mild language usage. Set among the picturesque vistas of Key West, Florida, our story begins when widowed Doctor Walter Colburn returns there, beckoned by his deceased wife to find her nurse, Jillian Dougherty. So begins a masterful and intricate unraveling of Jillian’s life that takes us into the colorful and dangerous dropout culture of Key West, and into the mind of a woman for whom life has been fraught with tragedy.

Author Ian Ritchie Stewart has crafted a highly intriguing and very detailed novel that packs a lot of plot in for the story length. I really enjoy an ensemble cast in these kinds of dramas, and although Jillian is the clear protagonist, I felt that everyone within the story was well developed, realistically formed, and described with dynamism so that they leap off the page to greet readers. The location is keenly described too and instrumental to the story, giving readers the cinematic sense that they are right there taking in the sights alongside the characters, and the dialogue is layered with great characterization for both the place and its people. Overall, I would recommend Lost Souls of Paradise to readers seeking heartfelt and interesting psychological drama, as well as those who enjoy the Key West area and culture.

Gobi Jane

Lost Souls of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart is a riveting story with an interesting cast of characters. It focuses on the journey of a professional nurse, Jillian Dougherty, who is swept up by the alluring charm of a homeless drunk, Patrick “Paddy” Oran Broslen, and joins him on a drinking adventure that changes her life in unimaginable ways. She wakes up abandoned in a resort, without her credit cards and ID. She has to go back alone to Key West at night. She is so shaken by the experience and the betrayal that she goes for two months without sleep and proper nutrition, eventually slipping into psychosis. She soon joins the homeless and changes her identity, becoming Chastity Marrow from Provo Utah. When she meets the handsome Ethan Hall, a new adventure begins for her, but can she find a home and love with this cavalier scholar?

Lost Souls of Paradise is a well-written story with interesting characters. I loved how Ian Ritchie Stewart explores the psychological state of the characters, including the protagonist’s father, who gets so worried about his daughter that it eventually has a devastating toll on him. There is the story of a Chicago psychiatrist and an interesting connection to his deceased wife and the missing nurse. There are many twists in the plot but I particularly enjoyed the way the author handles characters. Jillian is a well-imagined and superbly written character who will evoke strong emotions in readers. The prose is beautiful, largely descriptive, and enriched by dialogues. Lost Souls of Paradise is an interesting story that explores the mental states of the characters and the quest for a place in a world that can be, at times, very harsh.

Lesley Jones

In Lost Souls Of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart, Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Walter Arlin Colburn is getting increasingly irritated by his self-serving, wealthy clients. He is still trying to come to terms with the death of his beloved wife Amelia a year ago. A powerful force seems to be pulling him toward Key West, where Amelia lost her life to a brain aneurysm, so he heads for Key West, placing his trust in an unknown destiny. Meanwhile, Jillian Dougherty, the nurse who cared for Amelia, is drawn towards an unkempt man on a gurney and in agonizing pain. Although she is warned by other nursing staff that Paddy Broslen is 'The Devil', Jillian tries to ease his pain. Paddy refuses and disappears from the emergency room, only to appear later wanting to make Jillian's acquaintance. Jillian becomes ensnared in Paddy's sinister plans and soon finds herself intoxicated, robbed, and in the middle of nowhere. Jillian tries to get her life back on track, her belongings have been retrieved and Paddy is behind bars, but with no evidence, he is soon released. Jillian's mental health is slowly deteriorating and after suffering a breakdown, she reinvents herself as Chastity and disappears into the dark forgotten world of the homeless population. Jillian's father begins a relentless search to find her with the help of police officer Carl Dixon. Jillian meets all manner of society's drop-outs including Ethan, a charismatic Canadian. Together they sail off on his boat, leaving her father little chance of finding his daughter. Luckily Dr. Coburn is also in Key West and as he says goodbye to old ghosts, he may know someone who holds the key to finding Jillian.

Lost Souls Of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart has such a layered and intriguing plot. The characters have been well thought out and their personalities jump from the pages. I especially warmed to Jillian; her kind heart and Good Samaritan spirit were definitely taken advantage of by the psychotic Paddy. The story has many twists and turns as Mr. Dougherty tried to find his daughter. The search led him to experience unimaginable torment and this was related perfectly by the author. The eclectic mix of characters Jillian meets during her time as a homeless person highlights the truth behind the lost and ignored sections of society. They were all dealing with their own personal trauma. The author has dealt with the subject of mental illness, grief and trauma are so delicately and sensitively. I really felt Jillian's father's pain as he tried desperately to 'fix' her. The final scene on the boat with Ethan and Jillian was heartbreaking to read. The tension and suspense are incredible throughout as Mr. Doughterty risks everything to find Jillian. The ending, especially the scene between Dr. Coburn and his wife, will truly bring a tear to your eye.

Susan Sewell

A newly graduated young woman just starting her nursing career and new life in Key West disappears after she leaves the hospital following her shift in the intriguing drama novel Lost Souls of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart. Directly after completing nursing school, Jillian Dougherty applies and is hired by the hospital in Key West. Thrilled with her new job, Jillian diligently puts all her efforts into it for two months. However, in a moment of poor judgment, Jillian finds herself a victim of a cunning homeless drunk who was one of her patients. Jillian wakes nude and confused on an unfamiliar beach with no memories after leaving work the day before. Although still in the dark about what occurred the previous night, when she discovers her former patient is trying to access her bank funds, she reports him to the police and accuses him of stealing. The next day Jillian vanishes and her car, containing her phone, purse, and identification, turns up a mile off the coast. Is Jillian the victim of foul play? Will she ever be seen again?

Set in Florida's breathtaking Key West, Lost Souls of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart is a dramatic novel based on actual events and places. Fraught with mystery, suspense, and drama, the evocative story took me on a haunting and emotional journey. It is a captivating story depicting every parent's nightmare; it had me on pins and needles until the very end. Caught up in the protagonist's dilemma, I couldn't put the book down until the exciting conclusion. The addition of photos of places mentioned within the story not only adds realism to the book but also brought back pleasant memories of my family's annual trips to Florida and the Keys. Spectacularly written, this is a riveting novel with compelling characters and a dramatic storyline, and I recommend it to everyone who relishes realistic stories and lifelike characters.

Vincent Dublado

If you go through life like a beachcomber looking for that little treasure just waiting to be discovered, then Ian Ritchie Stewart’s Lost Souls of Paradise will resonate with you. Here we have Dr. Walter Arlin Colburn, a psychiatrist with a lucrative practice. But in his golden years, he is growing to become less tolerant of his clients’ self-centered and shallow preoccupations. Feeling desolate at the loss of his wife, Amelia, he leaves his home and practice to return to Key West, Florida to savor their last, sweet memories together. Jillian Dougherty, the nurse who tended to Amelia, gets involved with Paddy Olsen, a homeless drunk with a gift for manipulation who somehow convinces Jillian to join him in an escapade, where he abandons her in the process and steals her credit cards and ID. Suffering from psychosis, Jillian abandons her identity and assumes a new persona, while something unexpected is waiting to pounce on Dr. Colburn as he lands at Key West Airport.

Ian Ritchie Stewart wrote Lost Souls of Paradise with the theme of searching at its core. As restless creatures, we are always in search of things and at the same time lose anything from basketball games to our will to live as Stewart puts it. The novel’s relevance lies in the opportunity to look at realism in fiction as a reflection of its author’s experience. This novel makes you enter a world with a myriad of characters ranging from the successful professional to the desperate vagrant, and each has an interesting back story behind it. The book sparkles with humor and irony that may well be the hallmark of Stewart’s creative work. It is a well-plotted novel that will keep you good company, and you can look forward to its sequel, Dinner with Lucy.

Grace Masso

Lost Souls of Paradise by Ian Ritchie Stewart is a compelling story with wonderful characters. The protagonist is a nurse, Jillian Dougherty, who falls victim to the seductions of Patrick Oran, a homeless drunk who later strips her of her credit cards and IDs and abandons her in an oceanfront resort, far from home. She is mentally torn by the experience and eventually finds her way among the homeless people of Key West. After losing everything — dignity and profession — she adopts a new personality: Chastity Marrow from Provo, Utah. Meanwhile, Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Walter Colburn is on a mission to answer the call of his dead wife, traveling to the place they had been together in her last days. His deceased wife leads him to the nurse who assisted her before she died — Jillian.

This is a beautiful story that features a variety of characters and subplots. It will appeal to fans of romance, mystery, and sleuthing novels. While the story is mainly about Jillian, Ian Ritchie Stewart uses subplots to create suspense and sustain the interest of the reader. William Dougherty is the father of the protagonist and he has a unique path to travel in the story, experiencing hardship and poverty in a way that inspires pathos in readers. Lost Souls of Paradise is a cleverly plotted and skillfully written story with characters that tug at the hearts of readers as they follow the narrative from page to page. The world-building is masterly, the characters memorable, the plot packed with surprises. I enjoyed the story and the author’s unique gift of exploring human emotions and sentiments. It is a highly recommended read.