The best books on the Tropics

2 authors have picked their favorite books about the Tropics and why they recommend each book.

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Island of Dreams

By Tony Williams,

Book cover of Island of Dreams: The True Story of One Family's Quest for Paradise

An incredible motivating story of a man who refused to allow his poverty-stricken working-class life define him. Tony Williams, a school caretaker, had a dream to move to a desert island. His peers in his dead-end town ridiculed him, but he persisted with his ambition. Saving up money by pretending they smoked, and needed to buy cigarettes every day, Tony and his wife managed to travel to and live on uninhabited islands in the South Pacific twice, once with their kids. Anyone who believes their own personal circumstances prevent them from achieving their dreams needs to read this book, as well as anyone interested in the Cook Islands and the South Pacific lifestyle.


Who am I?

Simon Michael Prior loves small islands, and has travelled to remote countries in search of unique island experiences. He inflicts all aspects of life on himself so that readers can enjoy learning about his latest exploits. During his forty-year adolescence, he’s lived on two boats, sunk one of them; sold houses, street signs, Indian food, and paper bags; visited fifty countries, lived in three; qualified as a scuba diving instructor; learnt to wakeboard; trained as a Marine Rescue skipper, and built his own house without the benefit of an instruction manual.


I wrote...

The Coconut Wireless: A Travel Adventure in Search of The Queen of Tonga

By Simon Michael Prior,

Book cover of The Coconut Wireless: A Travel Adventure in Search of The Queen of Tonga

What is my book about?

A fun true story with romance, travel and adventure. When Simon and Fiona embark on a quest to track down the Queen of Tonga, they have no idea they’ll end up marooned on a desert island. No idea they’ll encounter an undiscovered tribe, rescue a drowning actress, learn jungle survival from a commando, and attend cultural ceremonies few Westerners have seen. 

As they find out who hooks up, who breaks up, who cracks up, and who throws up, will they fulfill Simon’s ambition to see the queen, or will they be distracted by insomniac chickens, grunting wild piglets, and the easy-going Tongan lifestyle?

Coastal Conspiracy

By Don Rich,

Book cover of Coastal Conspiracy: Coastal Adventure Novel Number 1 (Coastal Adventure Series)

Don Rich is one of those authors you immediately like, because his writing style is so flowing, but he never over-describes anything. He is a pulp writer (and that is the highest compliment!) This book kicks off his series, currently at 9 books. You’ll enjoy the characters and the settings in this start to a great series. 


Who am I?

I am such a huge fan of Thrillers. Always have been, since I started reading Dean Koontz at 12. The Tropical Authors listed are some of my favorites, but they are a stepping stone to other great authors who write unique thrillers as well. I hope you’ll check them out, and let me know if you find a new favorite. I also love suggestions as well. (Of other authors, please don’t be tacky and suggest your own book!) 


I wrote...

Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

By Armand Rosamilia,

Book cover of Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ex-cop Clayton Conway has made some mistakes. He's trying to work hard with a repo company, hooking cars and boats. Raise his daughter and stay friendly with his ex-wife. Make enough money to pay the rent on his tiny apartment over a bar in Jacksonville Beach. But when one of the Orenato Cartel's speedboats gets repossessed, they come looking for it. Putting Clayton, his family, and friends, in danger.

Can he protect them, or will the cartel get what they came for? And will his own weaknesses get the best of him... again?

This book is currently available for pre-order.

No Virgin Island

By C. Michele Dorsey,

Book cover of No Virgin Island: A Sabrina Salter Mystery

The author sets an intricate murder mystery against the details of life on St. John in the Virgin Islands. Sabrina Salter, the ex-pat protagonist, is a wounded bird seeking solace from her troubled past by trying to start over in the tropics, but trouble—and romance—follow her.

Details about life on the island make it clear that the author spent a lot of time on St. John and loves the island deeply. I didn’t guess who the murderer was until the very end, although the clues were there. I really like Sabrina and her dog, and the hunky Neil is a fitting romantic partner. 

This book had everything I like—friends, lovers, local color, and a juicy murder. I was captivated from page one.


Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

Fields' Guide to Dirty Money

By Julie Mulhern,

Book cover of Fields' Guide to Dirty Money

I’m a huge fan of all Julie Mulhern’s lighthearted books, and this one, set on Grand Cayman, is no exception. Poppy Fields, wealthy socialite, fashion icon, and undercover spy, gets dragged into an investigation into money laundering while attending her movie star mother’s destination wedding.

This isn’t the first in the Poppy Field’s series, but it’s one of the best.


Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

Deep Shadow

By Nick Sullivan,

Book cover of Deep Shadow

As a long-time diver, I was enthralled by the details of the undersea world. Set on the tropical island of Bonaire, a scuba diver’s paradise, this book introduces the reader to two great characters, divemasters Boone Fischer and Emily Durand. 

The author interweaves Boone and Emily’s budding romance with compelling descriptions of the diving and the sea life they encounter. The way the two divemasters get involved in the search for the drug submarine at the heart of the mystery is plausible. Twists and turns on every page keep the reader guessing about the fate of the sub, its crew, the cruise ship, and most critically, the two highly appealing divemasters who use every skill they have to avert disaster. I was instantly hooked on the series.


Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

Recent Approaches to Participatory Forest Resource Assessment

By Jane Carter (editor),

Book cover of Recent Approaches to Participatory Forest Resource Assessment: Rural Development Forestry Study Guide

This book is as much a manual as a book, but I particularly liked it because it provided me with specific examples of ways that local communities had been involved in forest issues – a topic I was struggling with how to implement in the late 1990s (as we developed the ACM approach on which my own book focuses). Carter’s book also had chapters on collaboration, on learning, on local management – all within a forestry framework, in a variety of tropical countries. As I glance through it again, to consider this description, I realize much of its contents remain relevant in 2022.


Who am I?

This topic, adaptive collaborative management, has been dear to my heart for nearly a quarter of a century (indeed longer if one includes my involvement in farming systems research and development, a similar agricultural concept with less emphasis on the environment). I have long felt that deep involvement with local communities is crucial if we want to avoid ‘the sins of the past’ in conservation and development. My hope and that of my colleagues has been that by involving local people in a respectful, iterative, inclusive, learning, collaborative process, together we can steer policies and actions in a benign direction that may in fact endure (unlike most such projects). 


I wrote...

Adaptive Collaborative Management in Forest Landscapes: Villagers, Bureaucrats and Civil Society

By Carol J. Pierce Colfer (editor), Ravi Prabhu (editor), Anne M. Larson (editor)

Book cover of Adaptive Collaborative Management in Forest Landscapes: Villagers, Bureaucrats and Civil Society

What is my book about?

Here we build on two decades of experience using the adaptive collaborative management (ACM) approach in tropical forest landscapes. This book emphasizes lessons learned during and after such experiences that seek to empower forest communities to sustainably manage their environments. Global in scope, we begin with a chapter that makes a solid conceptual case for participatory and learning approaches like ACM. Subsequent chapters take us to Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as authors address issues of transdisciplinary collaboration, gender equity, capacity building at all levels, dealing with power both conceptually and practically, and the variety of ways that ACM has been used globally. The concluding chapter focuses on expanding the approach upwards and outwards, while maintaining its community-level ‘center.’

Transit of Venus

By Julian Evans,

Book cover of Transit of Venus: Travels in the Pacific

Julian Evans takes us on a personal tour through the islands of the South Pacific, a region for which I have my own fondness. As well as places I know and love such as Tonga and Vanuatu, Evans visits harder to reach places: The Marshall islands and the Gilbert and Ellis group. Encountering natives, visitors, political and geographical challenges, his story is told with good humour and adventure.


Who am I?

Simon Michael Prior loves small islands, and has travelled to remote countries in search of unique island experiences. He inflicts all aspects of life on himself so that readers can enjoy learning about his latest exploits. During his forty-year adolescence, he’s lived on two boats, sunk one of them; sold houses, street signs, Indian food, and paper bags; visited fifty countries, lived in three; qualified as a scuba diving instructor; learnt to wakeboard; trained as a Marine Rescue skipper, and built his own house without the benefit of an instruction manual.


I wrote...

The Coconut Wireless: A Travel Adventure in Search of The Queen of Tonga

By Simon Michael Prior,

Book cover of The Coconut Wireless: A Travel Adventure in Search of The Queen of Tonga

What is my book about?

A fun true story with romance, travel and adventure. When Simon and Fiona embark on a quest to track down the Queen of Tonga, they have no idea they’ll end up marooned on a desert island. No idea they’ll encounter an undiscovered tribe, rescue a drowning actress, learn jungle survival from a commando, and attend cultural ceremonies few Westerners have seen. 

As they find out who hooks up, who breaks up, who cracks up, and who throws up, will they fulfill Simon’s ambition to see the queen, or will they be distracted by insomniac chickens, grunting wild piglets, and the easy-going Tongan lifestyle?

Deadly Sommer

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Deadly Sommer: Nora Sommer Caribbean Suspense - Book One

A great start to a new series, but you really need to read anything by this author. He has an easy cadence with his stories, and his characters are layered and can surprise you. So can the ‘bad guy’ in this one, too. Lots of diving and puzzle-solving in this adventure story, with the secondary characters equally as exciting as the main one. I’m looking forward to the second book, coming in 2022. 


Who am I?

I am such a huge fan of Thrillers. Always have been, since I started reading Dean Koontz at 12. The Tropical Authors listed are some of my favorites, but they are a stepping stone to other great authors who write unique thrillers as well. I hope you’ll check them out, and let me know if you find a new favorite. I also love suggestions as well. (Of other authors, please don’t be tacky and suggest your own book!) 


I wrote...

Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

By Armand Rosamilia,

Book cover of Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ex-cop Clayton Conway has made some mistakes. He's trying to work hard with a repo company, hooking cars and boats. Raise his daughter and stay friendly with his ex-wife. Make enough money to pay the rent on his tiny apartment over a bar in Jacksonville Beach. But when one of the Orenato Cartel's speedboats gets repossessed, they come looking for it. Putting Clayton, his family, and friends, in danger.

Can he protect them, or will the cartel get what they came for? And will his own weaknesses get the best of him... again?

This book is currently available for pre-order.

Fallen Out

By Wayne Stinnett,

Book cover of Fallen Out: A Jesse McDermitt Novel (Caribbean Adventure Series)

Jesse McDermitt is the star of over twenty books in this series, and Wayne is still full of stories for his main character. This book sets the pacing and the storytelling for the entire series, and it takes you on a rollercoaster ride. Reading it, you can smell the fresh Florida Keys air and hear the waves crashing on the beach and against the side of a boat. A fantastic start to this series, which continues to impress me as well as a lot of other readers. Once you start the first one, you’ll dive into the rest. Guaranteed. 


Who am I?

I am such a huge fan of Thrillers. Always have been, since I started reading Dean Koontz at 12. The Tropical Authors listed are some of my favorites, but they are a stepping stone to other great authors who write unique thrillers as well. I hope you’ll check them out, and let me know if you find a new favorite. I also love suggestions as well. (Of other authors, please don’t be tacky and suggest your own book!) 


I wrote...

Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

By Armand Rosamilia,

Book cover of Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ex-cop Clayton Conway has made some mistakes. He's trying to work hard with a repo company, hooking cars and boats. Raise his daughter and stay friendly with his ex-wife. Make enough money to pay the rent on his tiny apartment over a bar in Jacksonville Beach. But when one of the Orenato Cartel's speedboats gets repossessed, they come looking for it. Putting Clayton, his family, and friends, in danger.

Can he protect them, or will the cartel get what they came for? And will his own weaknesses get the best of him... again?

This book is currently available for pre-order.

Hold Back the Night

By Axel Blackwell,

Book cover of Hold Back the Night: A Detective McDaniel Thriller

The author’s work with Dawn Lee McKenna might be more fighting for this list (check out The Stillwaters Suspense Series) but I absolutely love this series because the main characters are fun to follow along with. They are so multi-dimensional, and the dialogue is outstanding. I could read chapter after chapter of them chatting about nothing, and still enjoy it. The action is well-written and not hokey, which I love. The twists and turns will leave you wanting more, and I cannot wait to read more from Axel in the future. You should, too! 


Who am I?

I am such a huge fan of Thrillers. Always have been, since I started reading Dean Koontz at 12. The Tropical Authors listed are some of my favorites, but they are a stepping stone to other great authors who write unique thrillers as well. I hope you’ll check them out, and let me know if you find a new favorite. I also love suggestions as well. (Of other authors, please don’t be tacky and suggest your own book!) 


I wrote...

Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

By Armand Rosamilia,

Book cover of Shake Down (First Coast Thriller Series Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ex-cop Clayton Conway has made some mistakes. He's trying to work hard with a repo company, hooking cars and boats. Raise his daughter and stay friendly with his ex-wife. Make enough money to pay the rent on his tiny apartment over a bar in Jacksonville Beach. But when one of the Orenato Cartel's speedboats gets repossessed, they come looking for it. Putting Clayton, his family, and friends, in danger.

Can he protect them, or will the cartel get what they came for? And will his own weaknesses get the best of him... again?

This book is currently available for pre-order.

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