August 18, 2017 03:44 PM Posted by juliannadouglas
July was another good reading month for me. I read five novels, one novella, and two short stories, all of which rated the 3.5 stars or better needed to qualify to be recommended by me. However, only two of them got a perfect five-star rating from me and only one was a romance, so that’s the one I’ll be highlighting this month as my Book of the Month pick. It’s a slightly older contemporary romance by a long-time favorite author who IMHO is phenomenal at her craft and has been from the start. It’s the story of a hero who’s injured in both body and spirit and the one woman he’s been in love with from afar for years but thought he could never have.
Alex heard the call of the sea as a young man and has been captaining his own boat and sailing the world ever since, winning a number of competitive titles, including the America's Cup. Then tragedy struck when a hurricane hit while he and his crew were out to sea. His best friend fell overboard and was claimed by the roiling ocean, while Alex was severely injured and nearly lost his leg. He’s now recuperating in a workshop next to the family-owned Bed & Breakfast run by his sister. But the thing that has him wrapped up in knots even more so than his injuries is his long-time love for his best friend’s widow. He has a severe case of survivor’s guilt brought on by all his confused emotions surrounding both his grief over the loss og his friend and wanting Cassandra so badly, and even though she’s now a free woman, he can’t seem to think of her as anything other than his friend's wife. I also liked how much Alex cares for his family and realizes that he hasn't been there for them in the way he should have been. I also totally understood Alex's introverted nature and dislike of social situations. He's very protective of Cass, which was sweet. But best of all, his love for her is so deep and obvious that there was never a doubt in my mind that she was his one and only for all time and that he would never be the same without her.
Cassandra never had the perfect marriage Alex imagined. She came from nothing and married her husband out of friendship and a need for financial security more so than love, and she became well aware of his numerous infidelities but stayed with him anyway. As a result, she’s misses her husband, but isn’t the deeply grieving widow she would be if she’d truly loved him. However, she has felt an attraction toward Alex for quite some time, although she never in a million years would have acted on it… until now. The Bed & Breakfast was catastrophically damaged by fire, and as an architect and general contractor, she’s been hired to restore it. This places her in close proximity to Alex on a daily basis, making the temptation great. Every time Alex opens the door just a crack, Cass finds herself eagerly stepping through it, but then he confuses her at every turn by seeming to want her, then pulling away. She’s very patient with Alex, giving him time and space to work out his conflicted feelings, even though she thinks it’s about him being in love with someone else. She’s also understanding and gives him her full trust when he finally confesses what’s really bothering him.
I very much enjoyed this story that has a strong focus on the importance of family and friendships, as well as a sweet romance. Alex must reconnect with his two sisters and their ailing grandmother after being away for so long. He must also come to realize that his lost friend perhaps wasn’t quite the man he thought, while being supported by other close friends who are still with him. I loved all the character sightings from past and future contemporary stories by this author, who has woven these books into an intricate character web, as well as the ongoing reconstruction of the B & B. This was all very engaging, but Alex’s relationship with Cassandra is what really kept me glued to the pages. That’s why I’m naming Jessica Bird’s (aka J. R. Ward’s) From the First, which was later retitled The Renegade as my July Book of the Month. If you enjoy an angst-filled, tender romance populated with likable characters against the backdrop of a lakeside B & B in winter, then you should definitely give this book a try. Keep reading to learn how you can win a copy for your own library.
Cover Blurb -
Only one woman can bring him to his knees. The third Moorehouse Legacy novel from New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward writing as Jessica Bird. It's bad enough that Alex Moorehouse has always yearned for his best friend's wife, Cassandra Cutler. When a boating accident makes her a widow, the grief—and the guilt—threaten to sink him. But his self-imposed reclusiveness is about to be destroyed by the arrival of the last person in the world he ever wants to lay eyes on again. As they reluctantly work together to rebuild his family's bed-and-breakfast, and his anguished heart in the process, will their growing bond be strong enough to survive both of their secrets? A reader-favorite story originally published as From the First.
Read my complete review of From the First.
If you would like to win a copy of From the First aka The Renegade to see how wonderful it is for yourself, just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook or print copy of the book. If the winner chooses an eBook, I will gift the newer version titled The Renegade to them via the eBook retailer of their choice (Amazon or B & N). Please note, The Renegade is only available as an eBook, so if print is chosen, the winner will receive the older version titled From the First. Also the paperback version of the book is now out of print, so if the winner chooses a print copy (available to US winners only), I will have a “new” or “like new” copy (at my discretion and based on availability) of it mailed directly to them via Amazon or one of their third-party sellers. Good luck!
International Entrants: You are welcome to enter my contest, but please note that not all eBooks are available in all countries due to copyright restrictions. If this is the case, Amazon does offer an option to trade for a gift card (I'm not sure about B & N or AllRomance). I'm sorry but due to the lack of availability of the paperback version and the high cost of shipping overseas, the option of a print copy will not be available to international entrants.