Book Review: Last First Kiss
By: Lia Riley
Published By: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Adult - Contemporary Romance
Annie Carson hasn't had the best few months. Her husband not only cheated on her throughout their entire marriage, but after the divorce is finalized she finds she has nowhere to go except her home town of Brightwater, California. Reluctantly, she packs up her young son, Atticus, and heads back to the place that holds so many memories - both good and bad. Her task is to prepare the family ranch to be sold so the profits can be split between her, her older sister, and her father. None of them has ever truly fit in with the close knit Brightwater community; they are far too free spirited for the rural, traditional community. Annie finds herself confronting painful memories from her past when she runs into the handsome town sheriff, Sawyer Kane. Could it be possible that all the pain he caused her as a teenager could be forgiven?
Sawyer Kane has always carried a torch for Annie Carson. That night in high school that tore them apart before they had a chance at love has always gnawed at him, but when he hears that she is back in town, he hopes to mend old wrongs and rekindle those feelings from long ago. He finds that Annie has more baggage than he would have expected: a kid, a broken heart, a shattered self image. He yearns to help her fix up the ranch and mend all her hurts. Sawyer realizes that Annie is like a scared colt so he must handle the situation gently if he's going to truly win her back.
I found myself drawn to the relationship between Annie and Sawyer, in spite of it being a whirlwind sort of romance. I shrugged this off because they do have a history so it's not truly insta-love. It's more of a story of the one who got away. Annie and Sawyer were lucky enough to have a "do over" in the romance department. I loved how Sawyer was patient and chivalrous while still letting Annie know how much be cared about her. He is certainly charming and swoon worthy. Annie is also endearing and relatable. I can see some of my own insecurities reflected in her. I was also a fan of her quirkiness; it made her a memorable character for me. Together these two have enough heat to kindle a fire throughout those harsh winter months that are on the horizon. There is also a little Romeo and Juliet vibe going on here as a family feud has kept the Carsons and Kanes arguing for decades. The couple will has to face some prejudice in order to be together.
In addition to the relationship between Annie and Sawyer, I loved watching both of these characters interact with Annie's son, Atticus. Atticus is an intriguing character in his own right, but there was something about his interactions with the main characters that made my heart flutter with warm fuzzies. It was obvious that Sawyer would be the sort of male role model that Atticus craved. I also loved that Sawyer, while not sure if he was ready to take on a kid, decided that Atticus was worth the risk. The bond between the two is the stuff of Hallmark movies.
Furthermore, I also was intrigued by the small town politics and drama. Brightwater would not be an easy place to live as everyone knows everyone's business. I would hate my neighbors weighing in on the big decisions of my life, but I applauded when Annie finally stood up to the town.
I only have two complaints about this one. The first complaint is totally based on personal preference. I'm a leave something to the imagination kinda girl so there were some explicit parts that made me blush. I wasn't a huge fan of some of the more crass discussions - particularly Ruby's. This won't be an issue for those who are more traditional romance readers. My second complaint was the ending. It felt abrupt and too easy. Don't get me wrong, I liked the way things ended up, but I am not sure it would have been resolved so neatly in real life.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Brightwater. I'll be reviewing the other two novels in the series in the near future. I'm hoping that Annie, Sawyer, and Atticus will make appearances in the other novels since they are about Sawyer's brothers. I'm starting book #2, Right Wrong Guy, this evening. I can only hope that Archer is as wonderful as his brother, Sawyer.
One Last Gripe: I felt like some sections were repeated. For example, I was over hearing Annie wax on about the benefits of moving to San Francisco.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The characters
First Sentence: Rowdy cattleman Jericho Kane and quiet sodbuster Boone Carson were among the Brightwater Valley's first settlers.
Favorite Character: Annie
Least Favorite Character: Ruby
A kiss is only the beginning...
Pinterest Perfect. Or so Annie Carson’s life appears on her popular blog. Reality is... messier. Especially when it lands her back in one-cow town, Brightwater, California, and back in the path of the gorgeous six-foot-four reason she left. Sawyer Kane may fill out those wranglers, but she won’t be distracted from her task. Annie just needs the summer to spruce up and sell her family’s farm so she and her young son can start a new life in the big city. Simple, easy, perfect.
Sawyer has always regretted letting the first girl he loved slip away. He won’t make the same mistake twice, but can he convince beautiful, wary Annie to trust her heart again when she’s been given every reason not to? And as a single kiss turns to so much more, can Annie give up her idea of perfect for a forever that’s blissfully real.