So an heiress, a tramp, and a nerd walk into a bar….or Sunset Island #1

Okay, originally when doing a blog, I wanted to blog the Sunset Island books, by Cherie Bennett. A year ago I was super depressed so I ordered the whole series on ebay (best $60 I ever spent) and read them over again…I think I gave away my original copies. It totally worked better than prozac, these books always give me the warm fuzzies. I think I was in junior high when I read these, and if I do say so myself I was quite an advanced reader (I read Flowers In the Attic in the seventh grade) so they did seem a bit childish. But awesome nonethless.

They were basically a combo of the Baby-sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and Beverly Hills 90210. And like the BSC, there were vivid descriptions of outfits, which were my favorite to read. And with some drinking and some talk of sex. Shocker! The three gals are au pairs on Sunset Island, which is a fake island off the coast of Maine.

Ok, so the characters are:

  • Emma: super-rich heiress who wants to break away from her privileged background and hides her wealth from people because she feels people will jusge her. Is very prim and proper.
  • Sam: a redheaded tease who was wild and crazy. She was from Kansas and a dancer. And very thin, as we are told every page. She has a dance scholarship to Kansas State.
  • Carrie: the “fat” one. She got accepted to Yale and was a photographer and had low self esteem. Oh, I’m sorry, they used “curvy” not fat. She is going to Yale in the Fall.

Omg! Hot dogs and sea shells! Double tank tops! Yay! These things represented the epitome of fun. This whole book was kind of like BSC #8, Boy-Crazy Stacey, except for the whole series!!! Did I just blow your mind???

Well, Emma meets the hot swimming instructor Kurt, and he is all working class and she doesn’t want to alienate him by declaring her heiress status (I think she is worth about 125 mil) so she lies to him and her friends. She and Kurt go out on some cheesy dates. Meanwhile, her arch nemesis from boarding school, Diana and her friend Lorell show up on the island and try to make things hell for Emma. They basically act like Jessica and Lila. Finally, Kurt and her friends find out she is rich and yell at her for lying and get mad at her but then they all make up in the end.

Other stuff:

They meet the members of a local band called Flirting with Danger, namely Billy Sampson who Carrie gets a major crush on and some guy Presley who has a southern accent that the author needs to put in all the pronunciations. Sam is all over him. Also, like the BSC, stuff goes on with the kids that they take care of that mirror what is going on with their lives and teach them lessons. The kid that Emma takes care of is in love with her and buys her expensive presents he can’t afford. The lesson is to stop lying to people you care about about your socioeconimc status. Or something.

Emma’s mother is a mess. She dates a 25-year old artist named Austin Payne who shows up on Sunset Island and is all over the teenage girls. Yuck.

Some creepy photographer named Flash Hathaway also hangs out on the island trying to convince girls o pose for him. Creepy, and comes into some plots later on.

Lots of fun outfit descriptions! When she gets to the island, Emma goes to the trendy shop and spends two thousand dollars on stuff like a read leather mini skirt and matching cropped jacket. Noyce. Carrie’s outfit: “an oversized loose-weave pink sweater over a long, flowing gauze-and-chiffon flowerprint skirt. When the oversized sweater slipped off one shoulder Emma could see the narrow strap of a lacy pink loetard. Sam looked stunning in a sheer antique white lace blouse and a black and white polka-dot lace miniskirt”. Holy early nineties, Batman!

We even get boy-clothes descriptions! Billy was wearing “torn, faded jeans and a navy t-shirt that he filled out to perfection. His streaky blond hair was tied back with a piece of rawhide, and he had a tiny diamond stud in one ear.” Welcome to Jon Bon Jovi, circa 1989.

Okay, their interactions with the boys are ultra cheesy, but they actually do have somewhat real conversations about stuff other than their relationship [cough-Liz and Todd-c0ugh].

Emma’s dream is to study primates in the Peace Corps in Africa. Uh, she may want to do some research into the Peace Corps and realize that’s not the point. Plus, they may be a veiled racist statement but I won’t give the author much credit.

Carrie is an au pair for Graham Templeton and his trophy wife Claudia. Graham is a famous rock star (I think is supposed to be like Bruce Springsteen) who happens to have a house on the island. Sam is an au pair for ultra-slutty thirteen year old twins. Think the Wakefield twins if they both were like Jessica.

Grade: A

I know there was some interest in these a while back, and I will try to put these in the mix. Since I read them about a year again, I am not sure I will get all the nitty gritty details because I spend enough of my time reading SVH novels, but some really fun shit happens that I will try to remember. The girls end up becoming back-up singers for Flirting With Danger, Emma and Carrie start a perfume business, Sam designs clothing and they fight and break up with boyfriends a lot. And they wear really bad (i.e. awesome) nineties fashions.

20 thoughts on “So an heiress, a tramp, and a nerd walk into a bar….or Sunset Island #1

  1. Keri says:

    I LOVE the Sunset Island books. I even like the A-List books because Cherie Bennett and her husband write them.

    They really do hold up to rereading unlike most of the other series books from back then.

  2. Johanna says:



    Emma’s rich aunt came to visit and Emma gave a homeless dude some money, and rich aunt was all, “You should give to charity, not bums” but she was a cool rich aunt.

    And Sam or Carrie taped a condom to her stomach, under the skirt, and got mad because her boyfriend wanted to make her first time special for her.

    I’ve looked at the wiki for this before but wasn’t sure that htis was the same book series.

  3. Merrie says:

    I still have this book! I bought it at a use dbook sale a few years back. I wanted to grab a few more and still kick myself for not doing so when I had the chance! I can’t remember how many books I read in the series, but I know I didn’t read thw whole thing. Something that stands out in my mind is the three girls road-tripping and Sam being disappointed that something they ordered were essentially Hush Puppies.

    Any chance you read any of the ‘All That Glitters’ (I think that was the name) series? It was about teenage girls on a soap opera.

  4. The Kuus says:

    Ooh, I read one of these! Not this one, though; I read the one where Carrie and Billy are going to have sex and go for HIV tests, and one of the guys in the band ends up having AIDS.

  5. Cat says:

    Wow, I had completely forgotten about these books! I didn’t even recognize the title. I only ever read the first one, but I loved it! I couldn’t ever find the rest of them though 😦

  6. nichole says:

    Merrie, I totally read “All That Glitters”. I loved that series. The girl who was on the soap was actually way more normal than both Wakefield twins. if I remember, it was her little sister who was the outrageous one. That’s what happens when your parents name you Jewel.

    I never read Sunset Island – which surprises me as I grew up in New England and given that this takes place in Maine, it should have been on my library shelves along with SVH and BSC. Especially since they carried “All That Glitters”.

  7. Merrie says:

    nichole, do you recall how many books are in the series? I ask because I just purchased #s 1-8 online. I hope that’s all there is because my husband will kill me if I start collecting another teen series! 🙂

  8. Kristin says:

    Oh my god! I love you for doing this. I loved those books. True story: I wrote Cherie Bennett a letter once telling her I loved Sunset Island and she WROTE ME BACK. A personal letter. I forget what it said but it was totally awesome.

    Did you ever read any of the Sunset Island After Dark ones? About that friend of Sam’s who is a caretaker for Molly the parapalegic girl? Those are pretty good too.

  9. greer says:

    when i was in elementary school i worked on a series of stories about an island off the coast of, err, vermont (geography was not my strong point i guess) that sounds a lot like this island. i definitely need to read this series.

  10. Shannon River says:

    Heh. In regards to the person who received a personal letter back from Cherie Bennett… I was just going to comment how she had an email address or something in the back of her books, and PROMISED a personal reply. Both to emails and snail mail letters. I always thought that was super cool. (though, being paranoid, how could we really know it was her?

    I always meant to write to her… and never did. 😦 Nuts.

  11. Shannon River says:

    PS, thanks for writing about this series btw! YAY!

    Did you ever read that book with that Amber chick? The one with arthritis? For some silly reason I remember it fairly well, I don’t know why. I only bring it up because I just looked up what all the titles of Sunset there were, and I came across that book about Amber.

    Ahhh. Memories. You really rawk my socks off by writing about all this stuff. Thanks again!!!

  12. The Kuus says:

    You know, I do remember that book about the Amber chick with arthritis. There were two books that I remember, one from her point of view and one from the point of view of Suzanne, the chick whose boyfriend she stole. What were those called again?

  13. Merrie says:

    For Shannon River and The Kuus:

    Did You Hear about Amber?

    From Cherie Bennett, author of the Sunset Island books, kicks off her Surviving 16 trilogy with the tale of smart, beautiful, exceedingly haughty Amber, a talented dancer who lives with her single mother in a rundown house on the wrong side of the tracks. As she rides to her 16th birthday party in a stretch limo, drinking champagne with “the coolest, richest kids at school,” Amber is on top of the world. But not for long. Her rapid weight loss and sore, stiff joints turn out to be more than a case of the flu. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, Amber realizes she will never dance again and she swallows a handful of tranquilizers. But a neighborhood boy who has long loved her rushes her to the hospital in the nick of time. Predictably, the humbled girl reevaluates her priorities and all ends on a hopeful note. Though Bennett’s plot offers few surprises, her smooth writing and snappy dialogue will wow Lurlene McDaniels fans.

  14. olivia says:

    the only reason I ever read a Sunset Island book (I believe I read the one where Sam starts her own perfume company, and one where they all travel into the future and Sam is fat, and one where Carrie was in a porn-ish movie) was because I flipped through one in the bookstore and thought it seemed sexier and racier than SVH. I was a horny fifth-grader, I guess.

  15. olivia says:

    oh! and kristin: i liked the sunset after dark books a lot! i think because the girl in it seemed so much more real (she had more than one job, or something, and worried about money a lot) and her descriptions made her sound average looking, which is something i felt i could actually acheive, as opposed to the usual “she can eat anything she wants and never gain an once!” mentality.

  16. Carrie says:

    These were the best books ever, I think the read the entire series in junior high. I can’t believe I actually gave these gems away. I did the same thing with my SVH books. Now I have to collect them all again.

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