Tag Archives: Jessica Bird

Jessica Bird – “From The First Kiss”

27 Aug

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon; 2008 (US: From the First, SSE, 2006)

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked other novels by Jessica Bird.

The back blurb:
“All Alex could see was her long, thick, gorgeous 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. she was out of bounds.

Cassandra. The forbidden woman Alex had yearned for from the first moment he’d laid eyes on her. But she’d been married to his best friend. Now she was rebuilding his family’s bed-and-breakfast … and just might, in the process,be rebuilding his anguished heart.”

From the First Kiss was published in the US back in 2006 as a Silhouette Special Edition under the title From the First and it’s part three in The Moorehouse Legacy series. I haven’t read the first two in this series, but I read the fourth one, A Man in a Million, featuring Spike and Madeline whose first meeting is told in From the First Kiss.

From the first Kiss is the story of Alex, a race boat captain, and Cassandra, wife and now widow of Alex’s best friend Reese. I assume that Alex’s and Cass’s story begun with the first entry in this series, Beauty and the Black Sheep, featuring one of Alex’s sisters. At the start of From the First Kiss, Alex is still recovering from a very serious injury to his leg which happened several months ago. Cassandra arrives for the wedding of Alex’s sister Joy (although I think she’s there because she’s friends with the sister’s husband) and so Alex and Cass meet again after Alex managed to avoid Cass for the most time of their acquaintance. He always felt guilty for being in love with her, his best friend’s wife, and now, when he blames himself for his friend’s death, this is even more so. Anyway, they meet and since Cassandra gets hired to rebuild the Moorehouse family’s bed-and-breakfast, they’re thrown in close proximity for several months.

From the First Kiss is essentially a story that consists of a long series of misunderstandings. It begins with Cass’s assumption that Alex can’t stand her because he avoided her all the time, Alex’s assumption that Cass is involved with another man and Cass’s assumption that Alex is in love with another woman based on all kinds of “evidence,” Alex assumption that he’s not good enough, … While all these misunderstandings were certainly a bit much (and silly), they didn’t annoy me enough to stop reading. Sort of: there’s a melodramatic payoff for all the silliness. When done well and I’m in the right mood – shrug – it works for me. Bird isn’t afraid to milk these misunderstandings to the max, especially Cass’s assumption that Alex is in love with another woman when the woman is actually Cass herself.

Here is what Cassandra thinks after she witnessed Alex dreaming of the woman he loves hands-on:

Who did he love? she wondered with a strange ache in her chest. What kind of woman had gotten under that hard surface to the man beneath?
Well, whoever she was, she must be extraordinary. She’d have to be. Because someone like him, someone with such high standards, would only love a woman who was flat-out amazing. (p. 43)

Or this:

“Where is she, Alex? Why isn’t she here with you?”
He didn’t answer, just propped his head up with his hand.
“Alex, why were you with me? You love her, right?”
Silence stretched out and then in a deadened voice, he said, “I am obsessed. She is like no other woman.”
Cass’s chest went cold, but she pressed on. “So why aren’t you with your Miracle?”
“It can’t work between us.”
“She’s not in your life?”
“Not the way I wish she was. Not the way … I want her. It would be inappropriate.”
“How long have you__”
“Very long. I’ve loved her for years.” (p. 140/141)

Cassandra even asks him who this woman is in this conversation. And of course, she gets no answer. Alex chooses instead to hurt the woman he loves and let her believe that she’s some substitute. She then finds the answer to her question in Madeline who turns up later in the story to see how Alex is doing (she’s navigator of his racing team).

As I said above, the reason for all these misunderstandings is Alex guilt about loving his best friend’s wife and his getting all angsty over thinking he let go of his friend intentionally when he went over board during a hurricane because of that. As Alex likes to think when he’s all-out melodramatic: “I killed him.” Alex’s character development consists in realizing that he did all he could to help his friend and keep him alive and his guilt about loving Cass is made easier by discovering some not-so-nice things about his best friend. Cass character development consists in realizing that her marriage was dead and that she should have gotten a divorce instead of staying married.

There’s a lot of angst and melodrama and over-the-top actions and reactions in this story. That’s entertaining to read when I’m in the right mood and it reminded me of the things I liked about J. R. Ward’s BDB series but ultimately, From the First Kiss is too thin on story, real conflict and character development to be something more than an average novel.

Would I recommend this novel? Maybe.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe.

Grade: 3 / 5

Novels Read – Some Comments

10 Oct

Jessica Bird: The Billionaire Next Door

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

I ordered this because I liked Bird’s A Man in a Million. The Billionaire next Door (now it’s billionaire? *snort*) is a nice read. The heroine, Lizzy, is a nurse and Sean, the hero, is some high-level New York something. It’s a story about trust and the lack of it, and although this premise leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings – and they do happen – they’re not stupid and handled rather well. Plus, Lizzy doesn’t take crap from Sean, tells him what she thinks of his behaviour, and acts accordingly.

Grade: 4 / 5

Meljean Brook: Demon Moon

Genre: Romance / Paranormal

This is a very character-driven story. In terms of action, there’s not much that happens: some creatures discovered a way to escape Chaos and Colin’s the only one who can fix it. And yet, there’s nothing boring or slow about this story. I had fun reading it. The end felt a bit too wrapped up and fast and why is it that every on in this story is super smart?

Grade: 4,5 / 5

Julie Anne Long: The Secret to Seduction

Genre: Romance / Historical

Previously, I read one other novel by Long and what I remember best about it is that I liked her voice and that I thought she showed the falling-in-love part rather well. And these are the things I like best about TSTS also. There are some wonderful parts in there. I know this is the end of a series, and I the other novel I read by Long was not part of it, but I didn’t feel too lost. I found the parts about the sisters a bit annoying/distracting but that’s probably because I didn’t read their stories. At the end, there is something I just couldn’t wrap my head around that it could happen. It involves a newspaper, and even an editor would do such a thing (*snort*), I would doubt the amount of money mentioned here.

Grade: 4,5 / 5

Robin D. Owens: Heart Duel

Genre: Romance / Science fiction (Futuristic)

Robin D. Owens’s “Heart Mate” series features a lot of elements I’m not too crazy about: cutesy names for people and things along with cutesy animals, an abundance of apostrophes, the soul-mate premise, and a writing style that, while it’s not bad, doesn’t really click the way Long’s does, for example. And yet this is the third novel by Owens I read. Why? Well, I like Owens world and I think there is a lot of potential to create conflict because of the strong ties that exist between character and Flair. In Heart Duel we have a hero with a Flair for fighting and a heroine with a Flair for healing. The problem I always have with her novels is that in my eyes Owens’s has yet to realize fully the potential for conflict. It’s all a bit understated. For example, when the hero learns about his heartmate it goes something like this: “lalala heartmate lalalala.” For me, this short scene didn’t convey the emotions I expected after a) suddenly discovering that there is a heartmate for you (thinking your whole life you don’t have one) and b) it’s the daughter of the enemy. It felt anti-climatic and I had to “fill in the blanks” more than I liked. There are other instances where I got the same feeling which often made for a disjointed read. I think a few sentences now and then (“telling” would suffice) would help my over-dramatic and melodramatic little self there. Anyway, I keep buying and waiting and hoping that one day there’s a story that hits all the right notes for me because somehow I like Owens world. This one got better after a slow start.

Grade: 3,5 / 5

Julia Quinn: On the Way to the Wedding

Genre: Romance / Historical

I really enjoyed this story. Starting with the climax was a good way to keep me reading. After all, romance readers know that the hero and the heroine will end up together. So in OTWTTW, there’s not only the question how the hero and the heroine will fall in love but also, what happened that the heroine is about to marry another man at the end of the novel. And all that is delivered with nice characters and a closer look at falling in love at first sight, being in love, and loving someone. In the whirl of all this, the historically incorrect solution didn’t bother me at all. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel.

Grade: 4+ / 5

Karen Rose: I’m Watching You

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Now this is a romantic suspense novel deserving of of both its name. Too often, I find romantic suspense lacking in suspense and/or romance. It’s a combination that’s not easy to get right, at least to keep me interested. But Rose hit nearly all the right notes for me with this one.

Grade: 4 / 5

Jessica Bird – "A Man In A Million"

21 Jan

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Silhouette Special Edition, 2007

WHY THIS NOVEL? I got this novel because of a review on AAR.

The back blurb:
“As far as bad boy Spike Moriarty was concerned, Madeline Maguire defined female perfection. When they’d met, she’d walked up as if she wasn’t the most gorgeous thing on the planet and asked to see his tattoos. He – a tough guy who’d make grown men run – had just about passed out. But their connection was definitely one-way … it had to be. Because he could never be the man in a million she was looking for, not with the things he’d done and seen. So for as long as she’d let him, he’d give her whatever she wanted. He’d worry about her walking away when it happened.”

I didn’t know Jessica Bird also writes as J. R. Ward (or is it the other way round?) but it definitely shows. For example, in the way Spike and other (male) characters talk – lots of “what’s doing?” and “my man” flying around – or the way Spike reacts toward Madeline (which is thankfully without the uber-alpha-ness of her vampires). Spike and Madeline are good together. They have a nice chemistry.

So what’s the conflict?

Spike did something in his past that makes him think he’s not good enough for Madeline (he keeps it secret). And that’s without thinking about that Madeline has a lot of money and he’s from a rather different background. Now Madeline has her own obstacle to overcome for a HEA with Spike. She’s very insecure about her own attractiveness. She’s competitive and tall, and there are also some things in her past which make her think she’s always – at best – second choice. All this is a set up to a big misunderstanding, but it’s not silly. I could understand why Spike and Madeline reacted how they did. It also had the benefit that you could see it coming right from the start.

It’s Madeline’s eating problem that I had trouble to understand. It’s not the fact that she developed a eating problem, with her kind of family background it’s actually no wonder she had one, but the fact that she could be a navigator on a racing yacht without eating a thing. I found that hard to believe. The energy needed for that kind of activity must come for somewhere. A body can compensate for much but keep this kind of behaviour up over some time and you’re in for a serious breakdown, I think. It just didn’t fit together. Plus: are there no regular medical check-ups required?

Anyway, this was a small inconsistency with Madeline’s character. It didn’t keep me from enjoying the story.

Would I recommend this novel?Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 / 5