Title: First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan
Puffin Island Series Book One
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 377 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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?
First Time in Forever is the first novel in Sarah Morgan’s Puffin Island series set on an island off the coast of Maine. The setting is the perfect backdrop for this charming story of love, friendship and community. The cast of characters is beautifully rendered and their personal growth is impressive. A truly captivating romance that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.
Emily Donovan desperately needs a quiet place to gather her bearings and escape public scrutiny after she unexpectedly becomes the guardian of her six year old niece, Lizzie. She is out of her depth in so many ways and while Puffin Island is a tranquil location, the surroundings compound her anxiety. Knowing how Emily could use a little extra support as she deals with all of the changes in her life, her good friend Brittany asks islander Ryan Cooper to look in on Emily and Lizzie. Ryan and Emily are attracted to each other, but a permanent relationship seems impossible when the unresolved issues from their respective pasts come between them.
Emily closed off her heart following a childhood tragedy and she refuses to let herself love anyone. She is also convinced she is the last person who should take care of a child and she is afraid to let Lizzie out of her sight. Emily is so far out of her comfort zone, she is nearly paralyzed in fear. She is desperate to keep Lizzie safe but in trying to safeguard her own heart, Emily keeps Lizzie at arm’s length. Once she accepts that Lizzie is in her life for good, Emily realizes she cannot let her fears color Lizzie’s perception of the world around her. Emily courageously conquers her demons for Lizzie’s sake and quickly realizes she will do anything to protect Lizzie. Even if that means giving up the man she is beginning to love.
Ryan is a very kind-hearted, compassionate man, but he has no interest in a long term relationship. This does not stop him from helping Emily navigate the difficult waters of instant parenthood. He genuinely likes Lizzie and he is very comfortable with her. He senses there is more to the situation with the two than Emily lets on and it does not take him very long to get her to open up to him about some of her past. He respects her need privacy and he goes out of his way to protect both of them. Ryan pushes her out of her comfort zone and in doing so, he helps her overcome some of her worst fears. The two give in to their desire, but Ryan remains steadfast in his decision to keep their relationship superficial. He truly does not understand Emily’s decision to break things off, but a heart to heart with someone dear to him offers him a different perspective on some of his long held beliefs.
First Time in Forever is an incredibly heartwarming and uplifting novel of love and healing. The characters are three-dimensional with realistic flaws and problems to overcome. Adding to the story’s charm is the setting and Sarah Morgan has created an authentic community that is very supportive and loving.
First Time in Forever is a feel good read that has an all star cast of fantastic characters, a sweet romance and a warmly inviting setting. I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait for the next installment in the Puffin Island series.