She's swallowed her pride and moved back to her hometown with her daughter after her divorce and the loss of her catering company. Now she's trying to navigate the strained relationships she'd left behindincluding her first love, Jack Davison.
Jack never forgot Bridget, or the day she left townand him. When Bridget caters a lunch at Jack's tourist ranch, old flames reignite. They have more in common than everJack's also a single parent. Though they both try to keep things casual, Bridget, Jack and their girls are starting to look a lot like a family.
But Bridget's only planning to stay in Paradise until she's saved enough to relaunch her business. Jack's invested too much in his ranch to leave. And with their daughters involved, both have a lot more at stake than heartbreak. How can they risk falling in love?
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About the Author
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren and a Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. She can be reached through her website, www.janarichards.com.
Read an Excerpt
It was official. She'd hit rock bottom.
Bridget Grant sighed as she wiped the sticky remains of spilled beer and nacho cheese sauce from one of the tables. Was this what her life had come down to? Serving wench in her mother's bar?
As she lifted her head, she caught several patrons staring at her. When she stared back with all the haughty pride she could muster, they quickly looked away. Less than a day in Paradise and she'd been stripped bare, as if she were swimming naked in the small-town fishbowl that was her hometown. Turning away from the gawkers, she gave the dirty table an angry swipe with her cloth.
Suck it up, Bridget.
She took a calming breath. It didn't matter what she did for a living or what anyone thought of her. As long as her daughter stayed out of trouble, she'd gladly sling beer and wipe sticky tables.
The front door opened and a group of people trooped in, their exuberance drowning out the scratchy music pumping out of the old jukebox. In the middle of the pack stood her sister Celia, looking relaxed and happy and full of life. Celia let out a squeal and left her group of friends when she saw Bridget, throwing her arms around her in a bear hug.
"It's so good to see you," Celia said, kissing her cheek. "What has it been, five years since we've seen each other in the flesh?"
"Something like that." She examined her sister's face, amazed at how much Celia now resembled their mother. She had inherited Mavis's straight blond hair and blue eyes along with the petite stature that had always made Bridget, with her tall, lanky frame and wildly curling auburn hair, feel like the odd man out in her family. Celia's face and bare arms were tanned from time spent working in the sun, and little laugh lines fanned out around her eyes. Bridget got the impression that Celia laughed a lot. Must be nice. Divorce and financial ruin had left her without much of a sense of humor.
"Maybe if you hadn't been so stubborn about visiting the city we'd have seen each other more often," she said.
Celia took a step away, her eyebrows rising. "Well, little sister. It's awfully early in the evening to have your claws out, isn't it?"
Just because her life had gone to hell didn't mean she had to take it out on Celia. "You're right. I'm sorry. I'm glad to see you too."
"I know you are." Celia smiled and took her hand. "I didn't think you'd be working in the bar tonight. You just got here."
Bridget shrugged. "The girl who usually works Friday nights is sick and Mom asked if I would fill in." Even though she was tired from days of driving, she was glad to have something to do. "I figured, what the hell. Might as well get started."
"Good for you. How's Rebecca?"
She sighed. Her fifteen-year-old daughter had remained sullen and silent the entire trip to Paradise. "Unhappy. But I can't really blame her. I've uprooted her and plunked her down here."
"In the middle of nowhere," Celia added.
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to. It was there between the lines. It always has been."
"I've never fit in here."
"You've never let yourself fit in here." Celia shook her head and took a step back. "Let's not rehash old arguments. It's your first night home. I don't want to fight."
"Neither do I." She was too exhausted to get into it with Celia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite Bridget Grant returns home to Paradise, North Dakota, to get her life back on track. After both her business and her marriage fail, she takes her daughter and moves in with her mom. First and Again is about returning home to save money and mend broken relationships. For Bridget, that means lessening the strain in her relationship with her mom and sister, but also with her first love, Jack. These days, Jack is a rancher for tourists seeking an authentic ‘Western’ experience, as well as being a single parent. When Jack finds himself down a chef, an agreement struck with Bridget intertwines their lives more than either could have anticipated. Jana Richards has done a great job with this heartfelt story of family and first love. First and Again by Jana Richards is a story that pulls you in because there are so many relationships to explore. Of course, the prominent relationship between Bridget and Jack is foremost in this story, but the relationship that develops between their daughters is equally special. Jana Richards excels at creating relationships that are strong and memorable. The sparks between Jack and Bridget are palpable, as is the constant reminder that her stay in Paradise is temporary. It is this conflict that drives the story and makes Bridget more relatable. I wanted her to choose Jack, but I also wanted her to pursue her dreams for her sake, and also for the sake of her daughter. But what can you do when your current arrangement looks more like family than anything you’ve ever known? That’s the dilemma that makes First and Again such an amazing story, with strong characters you want to succeed.
Returning to Paradise, North Dakota, to move herself and her daughter back in with her mom, was the last bitter pill Bridget Grant had to swallow after a failed marriage and business. She had no choice, she was penniless and in order to get her feet back under her, she would have to suck it up and work in her mother's bar and motel, instead of what she trained for, as a chef. Her relationship with her mom and sister had always been strained, to say the least, so being in close proximity would take some adjusting. But, she had promised her daughter that she would do whatever she needed to save up enough, so she could relaunch her business and leave Paradise behind once again. Jack Davison is surprised to find that Bridget hasn't changed much at all in twenty years, she is as beautiful as the day she left him behind. Owner of a ranch just outside of town, Jack caters to tourists wanting the 'western' experience. When he finds himself without a cook for an important customer event at the ranch, he is able to strike a deal with Bridget, whose daughter is in desperate need of a healthy distraction, horses. And as it turns out, Jack is a single parent of a rather special girl himself. With Jack's kitchen well in hand and the girls spending a lot of their time in the stables, Bridget and Jack automatically see more of each other. When almost forgotten sparks start coming alive again between them, both have their own reservations about taking their re-found friendship to another level. Bridget's plans for Paradise seem to be temporary, and Jack is a tad gun-shy, based on his experiences. Since neither can seem to keep their hands off each other, casual seems to be the agreed upon way to proceed. Although between the four of them, they are starting to come awfully close to resembling a family. The hearts that both Jack and Bridget were so carefully protecting? It appears they may already be lost..... ***** 'The grass is always greener on the other side' Funny how a lot of stories, regardless of what the plot seems to be, have a return to the hometown as a backdrop. So does this story, it tells of disillusionment, betrayal, family dysfunction, and how to rise above, and learn to see your own role in what you have always perceived to be the fault of others, circumstances or fate. Sometimes you have to go back to where you came from, in order to see where your place is. I see a tremendous amount of character growth in this story. Quite a few valuable lessons here. Everyone seems to be convinced one way or another, that they are doing the only absolute best thing possible. Problem is, everyone has tunnelvision. It takes some pretty hard knocks to shake those blinders off and it is heartbreaking to discover, that despite the absolute best of intentions, you may not have done the right thing after all. That happens a lot in this story....... having to take ownership for the way history has played out. On the flip side of that, is with taking ownership, comes the ability to finally recognize the beauty of what you have before you. In the case of FIRST AND AGAIN, there is a family relationship that can finally be appreciated at full value, one child that can finally see the benefit of a loving father and another who will finally have an opportunity to find out how far her abilities can reach. Then there are Bridget and Jack, who are no longer held back by misconceived ideas or expectations. Sometimes it takes a while for us to grow up....... It was a pleasure to read this book. ¿Insightful, poignant, heart-warming and just plain lovely.¿ **ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Carina Press in return for an honest review.**