First Time in Forever
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Windswept, isolated and ruggedly beautiful, Puffin Island is a haven for day-trippers and daydreamers alike. But this charming community has a way of bringing people together in the most unexpected ways…
It's been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece, Lizzy, to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzy and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of "just breathe" pep talks she's given herself. And that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…
Ryan knows all about secrets. And it's clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he's going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else's hands?
laden with growth, revelations, heart, emotion and mostly courage.
A new contemporary romance series from Sarah Morgan is set on Puffin Island, off the coast of Maine. Island romances, much like small town ones, tend to have an “everyone knows your name’ sort of feel to them, with plenty of unique moments from characters you would be unlikely to encounter in a city. At least not easily.
Sarah Morgan took the time to build the scene and world, giving us lovely glimpses of the island and the sea, and her characters’ relationships and interactions with the physical environment, even as she gave us insight into their own psyche’s and relationships with one another. You can picture this little island (I envision it just off the coast of Bar Harbor) as your imagination has you believing you smell the salt air.
Emily has just gained custody of her young niece, Lizzy. Completely unprepared for parenting, and utterly frozen with fear that she “may” make a mistake and Lizzie be harmed, she knows that they both need a quiet place to adjust to the change in their relationship. Emily is driven, or halted in her tracks by her fears: they consume her every decision and have her leading a life of avoidance. Through her friend Brittany, Emily is offered a place to bond with Lizzie on Puffin Island. Brittany also calls in a favor from her friend and islander Ryan, asking him to check in on Emily and Lizzie, knowing that Emily will shut down and close off with all of the changes.
From the first introduction to Emily and Lizzie on the ferry, we start to see the near-paralytic effect fear has on Emily. Scared of the ocean, she is constantly reminded by the island setting, and her “breathe” through it is not necessarily working. We see Lizzie’s inherent curiosity, despite all the changes, and there are hints that there are big changes to come for Emily with a push from Lizzie.
Ryan is able to watch Emily, and know that she isn’t for him. She’s obviously deathly afraid of, well, everything, and she never lets that kid out of her sight. And, she SO isn’t his type. But, she does intrigue him and well, who says you can’t have a moment?
Their issues do. And Morgan reveals everyone’s backstory and their “why we won’t be in a relationship’ by bits, allowing them to reveal themselves and all the reasons they won’t work, as they are inexorably drawn together. The interplay, their dialogue and even their stories tug at your heartstrings: you SO want them both to find a happy ending, but they are so damaged and afraid. Fortunately, Lizzie is the catalyst for Emily’s ability to move forward, as I had hoped. Being aware of her own limitations and the pain it has brought her, Emily refuses to be the cause of similar issues in Lizzie. Sure, they are baby steps, but each one brings her closer to finding the courage to want something, deep-down truly want, and go for it.
A lovely story that is laden with growth, revelations, heart, emotion and mostly courage. Courage to get up every day when even life scares you, and then the courage to take a chance.
I received a paperback copy of the title from the publisher via Media Muscle for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.