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From The First (Silhouette Special Edition)…
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From The First (Silhouette Special Edition)

by Jessica Bird

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Moorehouse Legacy (3)

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I’ve very much enjoyed all of Jessica Bird’s (aka J. R. Ward’s) contemporary romances, but From the First is now my current favorite of the ones I’ve read so far. When it was first published by Harlequin, it was the last of the three-book Moorehouse Legacy series that follows the three Moorehouse siblings, two sisters and one brother, as they navigate life and find love. After the death of their parents, the three inherited the White Caps Bed & Breakfast on Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, the old Victorian home where they also grew up, but it’s mostly the two sisters, Frankie and Joy, who’ve been responsible for it’s running and upkeep. Their brother Alex had a taste for adventure and heard the call of the ocean long before their parents passed away, so he’s been sailing the world ever since. He captains his own boat, and he and his crew have won the America’s Cup several times. Then he experienced tragedy when his ship was caught in a hurricane that took the life of his friend, who was also one of his crew members, and left Alex too injured to continue sailing. He had no choice but to return home, where his sisters welcomed him with open arms while he recuperates, which is a lengthy process. In the previous book of the series, White Caps caught on fire, causing catastrophic damage that is being repaired in this book. There’s quite a bit going on in From the First to keep the reader engaged, but it’s the angst-filled, tender romance between the hero and heroine that really kept me glued to the pages.

Alex has had a rough time of it throughout the first two books of the series. He’s had to have multiple surgeries to repair the damage to his body from the sailing accident that killed his friend, Reese, and nearly took his leg. But it’s Reese’s death that really has him tied up in knots. Alex has a severe case of survivor’s guilt that was brought on by more than just his friend dying. Alex has been in love with Reese’s widow, Cassandra, since the day he met her and has spent the last several years trying to avoid her in order to avoid the temptation that she presents. He honestly believes that he somehow subconsciously allowed Reese to die because he wanted the other man’s wife so badly. Therefore, even though Cass is now free to be with whomever she chooses, Alex feels it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to pursue a relationship with her, but at the same time, he can hardly bear to be without her. His dilemma presents some very angsty moments, and he does spend a large part of the book fighting his feelings for her. This would normally irritate me, and I have to admit that Alex’s inability to give voice to his feelings did skate perilously close to making me drop a half-star from the rating. But every time I was getting to that point, something happened to appease me, just enough to keep the story moving instead of stagnating in a quagmire of repressed emotions like some other romances I’ve read. I also adored Alex for his utter devotion to Cassandra. He loves her so deeply that there was never a question in my mind that they were right for one another or that she was, without a doubt, his one and only for all time. He’s also very protective of her, in much the same way that the boys from Ms. Ward’s BDB series are toward their mates, which was a plus. Not to mention, I totally understood Alex’s introverted nature and dislike of social situations, and I also liked how much he cares for his family and realizes that he hasn’t been there for them in the way he should have. He was just an all-around great guy.

Little does Alex know that Cassandra never really loved her husband with an all-consuming, passionate sort of love and their marriage was far from the perfection he imagined. Cass came from nothing and married Reese more out of a sense of friendship and a need for financial security than true love. That’s why she turned a blind eye when she discovered her husband's infidelities. Although she’s sad that he’s now gone, she isn’t the grief-stricken widow. She also developed an attraction to Alex a long time ago, when she and Reese took a boat trip with him, but she never would have dreamed of cheating. Not to mention, Alex was spending so much time avoiding her that she believed he hated her, although she never understood why. Cass is a rather unique romance heroine, in that she’s an architect and general contractor, who’s been hired to restore White Caps. This, of course, places her in close proximity to Alex on almost a daily basis, making the temptation strong. Every time Alex opens the door just a crack, Cass finds herself eagerly stepping through it, but then he confuses her at every turn, leaving her thinking that he’s only biding his time with her while really being in love with someone else. Cass is a really sweet heroine who I liked a lot. She’s very patient with Alex, but doesn’t let him walk all over her when she thinks it’s not going to work out. She was also very understanding and had a lot of trust in him when he finally confessed what happened during the hurricane, never believing for a second that he could have allowed her husband to die.

As with the first two books of the series, there are a number of secondary characters who play key roles. It’s like Ms. Bird has turned all her contemporaries into a little world of their own, where all the books connect in one way or another. Not surprisingly, Nate and Frankie (Beauty and the Black Sheep aka The Rebel) and Gray and Joy (His Comfort and Joy aka The Player) are present, with Gray and Joy getting married. Then there’s Spike, Nate’s friend and business partner, who has also become a friend to Alex, working out with him and chauffeuring him around. I love Spike’s quirkiness and an unusual physical trait makes me seriously think he’s related to a couple of the Brothers of the BDB and probably doesn’t know it. Alex’s navigator, Madeline, comes for a visit, stirring up Spike’s interest. These two become the hero and heroine of A Man in a Million aka The Rogue, which became the honorary final book of the series. Sean O’Banyon, who was introduced in the previous book as Gray’s friend, also runs in the same social scene with Cassandra, so he’s friends with her as well. He wouldn’t mind making it more than friendship, but I have to give the guy credit for recognizing that she belonged with someone else and not interfering. Last but not least, Jack Walker (An Irresistible Bachelor) is mentioned as being in attendance at a party that takes place at Gray’s house.

Overall, Ms. Bird’s contemporary world has enthralled me almost as much as her BDB world. It’s populated with similar character types, alpha heroes with a heart of gold and relatable heroines I’d love to be friends with if they were real. As with her BDB books, her writing seems to keep getting better and better with each one, leaving me wondering if I’ll like the final two of her early contemporary stories even more than From the First, which is almost difficult to imagine, since I thoroughly enjoyed it. All I can say is that I’m going to have fun finding out. From the First was originally published as part of the Silhouette Special Edition line, but was recently republished as a stand-alone book that was retitled, The Renegade. ( )
  mom2lnb | Aug 15, 2017 |
I've never wanted to jump into a novel and meddle as badly as I wanted to in this story.

Alex Moorehouse, world class athlete and professional sailor has returned home to recover from a serious injury he received when his sailboat got caught in a hurricane (which happened in [b:Beauty And The Black Sheep (The Moorehouse Legacy, #1)|301534|Beauty And The Black Sheep (The Moorehouse Legacy, #1) (Silhouette Special Edition #1698)|Jessica Bird|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173543425s/301534.jpg|3100116] aka [b:The Rebel|11780101|The Rebel (Hqn)|J.R. Ward|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VN+Rpn92L._SL75_.jpg|16731870]). Wracked with guilt that he couldn't save his fellow sailor and best friend, Reese Cutler, he refuses to see Reese's widow, Cassandra Cutler. But his guilt is not solely survivor guilt. Alex has been in love with Cassandra since the first time he met her. When Cassandra is contracted to renovate the fire-damaged B&B, Alex has to fight his attraction for seven long months.

Cassandra Cutler, recently widowed, can't understand why Alex seems to hate her so much. They barely know each other, yet he's gruff and rude whenever they're in the same room together. When her work forces her to be around Alex, she can't ignore the sizzle that seems to happen around them.

I admired Alex for his loyalty to his best friend. Alex may have wanted Cass with a fever, but he never tried to step in and ruin her marriage. If only Alex knew that Reese wasn't the man he thought he was. Reese had a wandering eye and had cheated on Cassandra many times over. Reese sounded like a man in a midlife crisis and needing some sort of assurance that he was desirable. I didn't agree with his treatment of Cassandra though. He kept jerking her around with his mood swings. One minute he'd be nice, the next he'd be cruel, then smoldering, then icy cold. I felt sorry for the poor woman.

I really liked Cassandra because she seemed so composed and regal. I think she handled Alex as best as she could, but with more patience than I would have had. What surprised me was that she had known for a long time about her husband's philandering, but she never confronted him or tried to leave the marriage. It's not like she was dependent on Reese, but I don't understand how she could have been so forgiving. While Reese was selfish and having both his cake and eating it too, Cassandra was stuck at home waiting for him to return from his various adventures both on the sea and in strange womens' beds. He could and should have let her go to find some sort of happiness.

This was a sweet romance story that started out with a lot of angst, but slowly developed into something sweet. After all the heartache they'd been through, they deserved their HEA. ( )
  MsRomanticReads | Apr 12, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jessica Birdprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ward, J.R.Authormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Stacy Boyd, with so many thanks.
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Alex Moorehouse had no intention of answering the knock on the bedroom door.
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The Renegade originally published as From the First
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All Alex could see was her long, thick, copper-colored hair. Pale smooth skin. Lips that were naturally tinted pink. Eyes that were green like sea grass.

He stopped himself. His best friend Reese might be dead. But in Alex's mind, Cassandra was still very much the man's wife.

Cassandra. The forbidden woman Alex had yearned for from the first moment he'd laid eyes on her six years ago. The woman who'd been married to his best friend--the friend he'd lost to the sea. The woman who was rebuilding his family's bed-and-breakfast...and who just might, in the process, be rebuilding his anguished heart.
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