Reviewed: January 22, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Series: Moorehouse Legacy, Book 3
Line: Silhouette Special Edition
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 256 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Alex Moorehouse has loved her from the moment he first laid eyes on her, and the guilt of that forbidden love, desperate and intense, pushed him into staying as far away from Cassandra Cutler as possible. She was his best friend's wife. Well...she used to be. Before Alex and Reese had been on the boat that got caught in a hurricane. Alex survived - barely - with a crushed leg that required a titanium implant and months of physical therapy. Reese didn't. He went overboard and was lost to the monstrous waves and high winds.
Alex blamed himself. If he hadn't wanted Reese's wife so deeply, so irrevocably, maybe...just maybe he would've been able to hold on to Reese long enough to drag him back on the boat. Maybe some part of Alex wanted Reese gone. Maybe Alex killed him.
The once proud and unflappable captain has come home to the old family house, White Caps, now a Bed & Breakfast run by his sister and her new husband. He's been recuperating for months. Taking stock of his life. Well...mostly getting drunk and pushing away every member of his family and every one of his friends. He's been acting like a sullen, spoiled boy and he knows it, so when a chance meeting with Cassandra wakes him up to a few harsh realities, Alex starts to get himself back together. His goal: get as far away from the woman now heading the reconstruction of White Caps as possible. Get back to the sea that is in his soul. Forget Cassandra once and for all.
Cassandra Cutler hadn't seen Alex in a long time. She knows he hates her, has felt his antipathy and disdain for years. She's never understood what she ever did to make him loathe her so much. Now that her husband Reese is dead, she carries her own guilt about his loss, but knows she can never share it with Alex. She can't ever share anything with Alex. And if sometimes, in the deepest recesses of her heart, she yearns to, well, that's just her tough luck. And Cassandra knows all about tough luck.
Two people, one badly broken, the other struggling to survive, are on a collision course that will either heal their wounds, or rip their souls to shreds.
Once again Jessica Bird (J.R. Ward) has created a solid romance with flawed and, to various degrees, broken characters. If you're familiar with the Moorehouse Legacy series, you've met both Alex and Cassandra in the previous books, and Ward...er...Bird did a nice job laying the groundwork for her main characters in those books. Alex hasn't been the most sympathetic of them, to be fair. He's surly, standoffish, and his self pity has hardly been appealing. The way he left his two sisters in the lurch when his parents died ten years ago did nothing to endear him to me. I've long thought him selfish and self absorbed.
And honestly, through much of this book, my opinion didn't improve much, though Bird did add some nicer, more family-friendly aspects to his character. Cassandra, on the other hand, I've liked since the beginning, and was quite pleased to see her character evolve from what I'd originally thought was a classy, worldly socialite into a classy, worldly woman who married for a wide range of reasons but at her roots is a successful contractor and renovations expert. The additional facets of her character rounded her out and gave her an added depth. I admit, I prefer strong, competent women who know their minds and hearts and are willing to put themselves out there. Cassandra is, and does.
The plot is fairly easy to see coming a mile down the road, and doesn't offer up much in the way of surprises, but I have no problem with that, given the formulaic nature of contemporary romance. And frankly, Bird/Ward's strengths lean towards character creation and definition. The problem with this book, though, is because of Alex's nature, he isn't going to be a very sympathetic character, nor is his redemption that noticeable unless you've read the first two books in the series and see the whole arc of his development. I'd recommend the first two books, Beauty and the Black Sheep and His Comfort and Joy anyway, as I enjoyed them both, but definitely suggest you read them first if you're interested in From the First.
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