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First Time in Forever

by Sarah Morgan

Series: Puffin Island (1)

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1016233,544 (3.8)2
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?… (more)
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4.5 stars.

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.
( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
Received an ARC of First time In Forever by Sarah Morgan for my honest opinion. Blessings happen when least expected. That seems to be the concept of First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan. Emily's life changes direction in the blink of an eye. Can she learn to appreciate the blessings she has been given? Will she meet that special someone along the way? A beautiful story of finding yourself and appreciating what you are given. ( )
  Lashea677 | Feb 16, 2019 |
This is the first installment in Morgan's new single-title trilogy, set in Maine and involving a trio of women who have been close friends since college. Each of them comes to a cottage on Puffin Island when they need to get away or have a life crisis, and of course they find romance. I read Morgan's HP earlier this year, which was a prequel of sorts. It involved a different heroine but introduced two of the trio who are featured in this series. I loved that book, it ranks up there with my favorite Morgan HPs.

I liked this a lot too. Morgan takes a couple of standard character tropes and subverts them. We have a hero, Ryan, who is allergic to commitment and children, but because he was one of the primary parental figures to his siblings at a young age after his parents' death. We have a heroine, Emily, who is allergic to commitment and children, also because of too-early responsibilities, but hers left her with more trauma. Manhattan-based management consultant Emily winds up on Puffin Island to get her niece, Lizzy, away from the paparazzi after Lizzy's mother (Emily's sister), a famous actor, is killed in a plane crash and Emily becomes the sole guardian. Emily is sure she will be a terrible parental figure but there's no one else.

Of course neither Ryan nor Emily want to become serious with anyone, and of course they are hot for each other as soon as they meet. So the plot is basically Emily learning to take care of and feel confident about her new relationship with Lizzy, Emily and Ryan falling in love, and Lizzy avoiding being discovered by the paparazzi. Along the way all three of them grow to love and trust each other and Emily overcomes her various traumas (so does Ryan, but his are more manageable and Emily is the focus here). Ryan does a bit of the magical-cure-through-sex thing, but for the most part Emily navigates and overcomes her issues on her own, and in her own time.

There are also subplots involving Skylar (one of the trio who will get her own book) and a couple of people on the island. Morgan does settings so well, and Puffin Island is a character in its own right. There are mini-crises that move the story along and develop Emily and Ryan's relationships, but no Big Misunderstandings or Idiot Plot points. We're definitely in the hands of a pro here. If you've spent any time in US east-coast ocean communities, you'll recognize the feel of Puffin Island.

By the end of the story we've met all the characters that will be featured in the upcoming books, but they don't crowd the pages as much as in Morgan's Vermont-set trilogy. This is partly because everyone's not related and they're not all in one place. It's a very nice start to the series. ( )
  Sunita_p | Mar 6, 2016 |
Awesome small town romance. This is an excellent beginning to a new series from Sarah Morgan. It's a story of dealing with life's unexpected twists, facing your fears, and coming out stronger in the end. This book has a great cast of characters that I will love getting to know better throughout the series. Can't wait for the next book. I definitely recommend this one. ( )
  Bette_Hansen | Nov 3, 2015 |
4 stars

I loved Puffin Island. What a community! I want to visit it again real soon. The characters I want to see more of them and don't want to wait. It is charming, fun and deals with some real issues. There are a couple of love scenes that I skimmed over.

Emily Donovan is single and has a real fear of water. She has gone through a lot of changes in the past month. She is scared, panicking at all of a sudden to have to mother her six year old niece. Emily had never met before. Emily is staying at her best friend's cottage on Puffin island.

Emily, Brittany and Skylar have been best friends for ten years. They have promised to be there for each other. They are closer than sisters.

Lizzy is a cute six year old. Her mother just died. She is afraid of cameraman, She is being hunted by reporters.

Ryan Cooper is planning on being single for life. He does not date single mothers. He is asked to check up on Emily and help her. He realizes that she is scared right away and wants to know why.
Ryan has returned back home to Puffin and opened a business.

I liked how Emily is slowly changing and working to get over her fears for Lizzy's sake. How she sees a need in someone else life and she steps in to make a difference.

I will be waiting for the next two books of the series.
I was given this ebook to read by Net Galley and Harlequin. In return I agreed to give First Time in Forever a honest review. ( )
  rhonda1111 | Mar 30, 2015 |
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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?

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