I can hardly believe it’s nearly the end of February and The Female Scriblerian’s Romance Fiction February is coming to an end! This is the penultimate post, but don’t worry I’ve got a cracker of a book to review for you today! First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan. It’s the unputdownable first book in the ‘Puffin Island Trilogy’ which is being released over the course of this year and it was fab, so without further ado, on to the review…
I’ve said before how much I enjoy Sarah Morgan’s books (you can read reviews here and here) but what I realised whilst reading ‘First Time in Forever’ was that she’s a master at creating characters you want to know in real life and relationships, not just romantic ones, that feel real. I think the strength of this book lies in the fact that every character plays a useful role in the plot. She creates a real sense of community on Puffin Island, which I think was important given that it was a small, everyone knows everyone kind of place.
Too often the focus of romantic fiction completely isolates the main characters from the world. I understand why that is, especially with the page constraints of a ‘normal’ Mills and Boon. However, every now and then it’s really nice to read a book where the heroine has friends, and a life, outside her relationship with the hero. I felt like Emily and Ryan’s relationship wouldn’t have developed in such a satisfying way without the aid of well-meaning and nosy supporting characters!
That being said, Emily and Ryan were perfect for each other. I loved how easy-going Ryan balanced out uptight, type A Emily. It took me a little while to warm to Emily, because she’s very closed off at the beginning of the book (for very good reasons) but I loved how Ryan slowly coaxed her out her shell and how she gradually began to blossom as the book went on. I think I get too used to heroines who give away all their secrets in the first few pages for the sake of a rapid plot progression but after chapter two I realised I wouldn’t have Emily any other way. Plus her past would make even the sunniest optimist reserved so I totally forgive her!
One of the best things about Emily and Ryan’s relationship, aside from how they balance each other out, is how they encourage each other continually to go outside of their comfort zones. Ryan is overtly flirty with Emily and she is unrelenting in reminding him that she and her niece come as a pair, it’s unnegotiable. Both characters make no bones about being commitment-phobes, albeit for valid reasons. Emily has had her safe and ordered life propelled into the unknown. She’s become the surrogate mother for a niece she’s never met, been fired, dumped and had to move to an island when she’s terrified of the sea all in rapid succession. That’s enough to make anyone want to hide for at least a month! Whilst Ryan has demons of his own which prevent him from thinking he’ll ever be able to commit.
This all meant it was extra satisfying watching them slowly fall in love. First Time in Forever is full of sweet moments between Emily and Ryan, which I thought were all the more romantic for their normality. Ryan teaching Emily to swim for example, and looking after her when she’s ill said more to me than grand gestures could have.
The setting was also dreamy. Puffin Island is set off the Maine Coast and Sarah managed to imbue such a sense of it into the pages that you could almost smell the salt in the air and feel the spray of the sea. I’ve never been to Maine before, nor do I even know much about it (I spent a few chapters picturing an English seaside town!) but First Time in Forever has definitely made me put it on my wanderlust list! The consolation of finishing the book *all too soon!* was that I’m looking forward to going back there on my lunch break reading when the next book comes out!
Overall I loved First Time in Forever. Emily and Ryan were perfect, the supporting characters were amazing, particularly Skylar (who we’ll be reading about again!), Kirsti and Agnes. I was only sad when I finished it but I’m already really tempted to read it again, which has to be the best thing you can say about a book!
So what are you waiting for? Go and buy First Time in Forever now, reading this book was like going for a little holiday, and meeting some great people into the bargain! I can’t recommend it enough.
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