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 oceanwhich 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 Emilywith her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sightis 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 allputting her heart in someone else's hands?
About the Author
Romantic Times has described her as 'a magician with words' and nominated her books for their Reviewer's Choice Awards and their 'Top Pick' slot. In 2012 Sarah received the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. She lives near London with her family. Find out more at www.sararahmorgan.co
Read an Excerpt
It was the perfect place for someone who didn't want to be found. A dream destination for people who loved the sea.
Emily Donovan hated the sea.
She stopped the car at the top of the hill and turned off the headlights. Darkness wrapped itself around her, smothering her like a heavy blanket. She was used to the city, with its shimmering skyline and the dazzle of lights that turned night into day. Here, on this craggy island in coastal Maine, there was only the moon and the stars. No crowds, no car horns, no high-rise buildings. Nothing but wave-pounded cliffs, the shriek of gulls and the smell of the ocean.
She would have drugged herself on the short ferry crossing if it hadn't been for the child strapped into the seat in the back of the car.
The little girl's eyes were still closed, her head tilted to one side and her arms locked in a stranglehold around a battered teddy bear. Emily retrieved her phone and opened the car door quietly.
Please don't wake up.
She walked a few steps away from the car and dialed. The call went to voice mail.
"Brittany? Hope you're having a good time in Greece. Just wanted to let you know I've arrived. Thanks again for letting me use the cottage. I'm really
I'm" Grateful. That was the word she was looking for. Grateful. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I'm panicking. What the hell am I doing here? There's water everywhere and I hate water. This is Well, it's hard." She glanced toward the sleeping child and lowered her voice. "She wanted to get out of the car on the ferry, but I kept her strapped in because there was no way I was doing that. That scary harbor guy with the big eyebrows probably thinks I'm insane, by the way, so you'd better pretend you don't know me next time you're home. I'll stay until tomorrow because there's no choice, but then I'm taking the first ferry out of here. I'm going somewhere else. Somewhere landlocked like like Wyoming or Nebraska."
As she ended the call the breeze lifted her hair, and she could smell salt and sea in the air.
She dialed again, a different number this time, and felt a rush of relief as the call was answered and she heard Skylar's breathy voice.
"Sky? It's me."
"Em? What's happening? This isn't your number."
"I changed my cell phone."
"You're worried someone might trace the call? Holy crap, this is exciting."
"It's not exciting. It's a nightmare."
"How are you feeling?"
"Like I want to throw up, but I know I won't because I haven't eaten for two days. The only thing in my stomach is a knot of nervous tension."
"Have the press tracked you down?"
"I don't think so. I paid cash for everything and drove from New York." She glanced back at the road, but there was only darkness. "How do people live like this? I feel like a criminal. I've never hidden from anyone in my life before."
"Have you been switching cars to confuse them? Did you dye your hair purple and buy a pair of glasses?"
"No. Have you been drinking?"
"I watch a lot of movies. You can't trust anyone. You need a disguise. Something that will help you blend in."
"I will never blend in anywhere with a coastline. I'll be the one wearing a life jacket in the middle of Main Street."
"You're going to be fine." Skylar's extrafirm tone suggested she wasn't at all convinced by what she was saying.
"I'm leaving first thing tomorrow."
"You can't do that! We agreed the cottage would be the safest place to hide. No one is going to notice you on an island crowded with tourists. It's a dream place for a vacation."
"It's not a dream place when the sight of water makes you hyperventilate."
"You're not going to do that. You're going to breathe in the sea air and relax."
"I don't need to be here. This whole thing is an over-reaction. No one is looking for me."
"You're the half sister of one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood, and you're guardian to her child. If that little fact gets out, the whole press pack will be hunting you. You need somewhere to hide, and Puffin Island is perfect."
Emily shivered under a cold drench of panic. "Why would they know about me? Lana spent her entire life pretending I don't exist." And that had suited her perfectly. At no point had she aspired to be caught in the beam of Lana's spotlight. Emily was fiercely private.
Lana, on the other hand, had demanded attention from the day she was born.
It occurred to Emily that her half sister would have enjoyed the fact she was still making headlines even though it had been over a month since the plane crash that had killed her and the man reputed to have been her lover.
"Journalists can find out anything. This is like a plot for a movie."
"No, it isn't! It's my life. I don't want it ripped open and exposed for the world to see and I don't" Emily broke off and then said the words aloud for the first time. "I don't want to be responsible for a child." Memories from the past drifted from the dark corners of her brain like smoke under a closed door. "I can't be."
It wasn't fair to the girl.
And it wasn't fair to her.
Why had Lana done this to her? Was it malice? Lack of thought? Some twisted desire to seek revenge for a childhood where they'd shared nothing except living space?
"I know you think that, and I understand your reasons, but you can do this. You have to. Right now you're all she has."
"I shouldn't be all anyone has. That's a raw deal. I shouldn't be looking after a child for five minutes, let alone the whole summer."
No matter that in her old life people deferred to her, recognized her expertise and valued her judgment; in this she was incompetent. She had no qualifications that equipped her for this role. Her childhood had been about surviving. About learning to nurture herself and protect herself while she lived with a mother who was mostly absentsometimes physically, always emotionally. And after she'd left home, her life had been about studying and working long, punishing hours to silence men determined to prove she was less than they were.
And now here she was, thrown into a life where what she'd learned counted for nothing. A life that required the one set of skills she knew she didn't possess. She didn't know how to be this. She didn't know how to do this. And she'd never had ambitions to do it. It felt like an injustice to find herself in a situation she'd worked hard to avoid all her life.
Beads of sweat formed on her forehead, and she heard Skylar's voice through a mist of anxiety.
"If having her stops you thinking that, this will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you. You weren't to blame for what happened when you were a child, Em."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Doesn't change the fact you weren't to blame. And you don't need to talk about it because the way you feel is evident in the way you've chosen to live your life."
Emily glanced back at the child sleeping in the car. "I can't take care of her. I can't be what she needs."
"You mean you don't want to be."
"My life is adult-focused. I work sixteen-hour days and have business lunches."
"Your life sucks. I've been telling you that for a long time."
"I liked my life! I want it back."
"That was the life where you were working like a machine and living with a man with the emotional compass of a rock?"
"I liked my job. I knew what I was doing. I was competent. And Neil and I may not have had a grand passion, but we shared a lot of interests."
"I We liked eating out."
"That's not an interest. That's an indication that you were both too tired to cook."
"We both enjoyed reading."
"Wow, that must have made the bedroom an exciting place."
Emily struggled to come up with something else and failed. "Why are we talking about Neil? That's over. My whole life now revolves around a six-year-old girl. There is a pair of fairy wings in her bag. I don't know anything about fairy wings."
Her childhood had been a barren desert, an exercise in endurance rather than growth, with no room for anything as fragile and destructible as gossamer-thin fairy wings.
"I have a vivid memory of being six. I wanted to be a ballerina."
Emily stared straight ahead, remembering how she'd felt at the age of six. Broken. Even after she'd eventually stuck herself back together, she'd known she wasn't the same.
"I'm mad at Lana. I'm mad at her for dying and for putting me in this position. How screwed up is that?"
"It's not screwed up. It's human. What do you expect, Em? You haven't spoken to Lana in over a decade" Skylar broke off, and Emily heard voices in the background.
"Do you have company? Did I catch you at a bad time?"
"Richard and I are off to a fund-raiser at The Plaza, but he can wait."
From what she knew of Richard's ruthless political ambitions and impatient nature, Emily doubted he'd be prepared to wait. She could imagine Skylar, her blond hair secured in an elegant twist on top of her head, her narrow body sheathed in a breathtaking designer creation. She suspected Richard's attraction to Sky lay in her family's powerful connections rather than her sunny optimism or her beauty. "I shouldn't have called you. I tried Brittany, but she's not answering. She's still on that archaeological dig in Crete. I guess it's the middle of the night over there."
"She seems to be having a good time. Did you see her Facebook update? She's up to her elbows in dirt and hot Greek men. She's working with that lovely ceramics expert, Lily, who gave me all those ideas for my latest collection. And if you hadn't called me I would have called you. I've been so worried. First Neil dumped you, then you had to leave your job, and now this! They say trouble comes in threes."
Emily eyed the child, still sleeping in the car. "I wish the third thing had been a broken toaster."
"You're going through a bad time, but you have to remember that everything happens for a reason. For a start, it has stopped you wallowing in bed eating cereal from the box. You needed a focus and now you have one."
"I didn't need a dependent six-year-old who dresses in pink and wears fairy wings."
"Wait a minute" There was a pause and then the sound of a door clicking. "Richard is talking to his campaign manager, and I don't want them listening. I'm hiding in the bathroom. The things I do in the name of friendship. You still there, Em?"
"Where would I go? I'm surrounded by water." She shuddered. "I'm trapped."
"Honey, people pay good money to be 'trapped' on Puffin Island."
"I'm not one of them. What if I can't keep her safe, Sky?"
There was a brief silence. "Are we talking about safe from the press or safe from other stuff?"
Her mouth felt dry. "All of it. I don't want the responsibility. I don't want children."
"Because you're afraid to give anything of yourself."
There was no point in arguing with the truth.
"That's why Neil ended it. He said he was tired of living with a robot."
"I guess he used his own antennae to work that out. Bastard. Are you brokenhearted?"
"No. I'm not as emotional as you and Brittany. I don't feel deeply." But she should feel something, shouldn't she? The truth was that after two years of living with a man, she'd felt no closer to him than she had the day she'd moved in. Love wrecked people, and she didn't want to be wrecked. And now she had a child. "Why do you think Lana did it?"
"Made you guardian? God knows. But knowing Lana, it was because there wasn't anyone else. She'd pissed off half of Hollywood and slept with the other half, so I guess she didn't have any friends who would help. Just you."
"But she and I"
"I know. Look, if you want my honest opinion, it was probably because she knew you would put your life on hold and do the best for her child despite the way she treated you. Whatever you think about yourself, you have a deep sense of responsibility. She took advantage of the fact you're a good, decent person. Em, I am so sorry, but I have to go. The car is outside and Richard is pacing. Patience isn't one of his good qualities and he has to watch his blood pressure."
"Of course." Privately Emily thought if Richard worked harder at controlling his temper, his blood pressure might follow, but she didn't say anything. She wasn't in a position to give relationship advice to anyone. "Thanks for listening. Have fun tonight."
"I'll call you later. No, waitI have a better idea. Richard is busy this weekend, and I was going to escape to my studio, but why don't I come to you instead?"
"Here? To Puffin Island?"
"Why not? We can have some serious girl time. Hang out in our pajamas and watch movies like we did when Kathleen was alive. We can talk through everything and make a plan. I'll bring everything I can find that is pink. Get through to the weekend. Take this a day at a time."
"I am not qualified to take care of a child for five minutes, let alone five days." But the thought of getting back on that ferry in the morning made her feel almost as sick as the thought of being responsible for another human being.
"Listen to me." Skylar lowered her voice. "I feel bad speaking ill of the dead, but you know a lot more than Lana did. She left the kid alone in a house the size of France and hardly ever saw her. Just be there. Seeing the same person for two consecutive days will be a novelty. How is she, anyway? Does she understand what has happened? Is she traumatized?"
Emily thought about the child, silent and solemn-eyed. Trauma, she knew, wore different faces. "She's quiet. Scared of anyone with a camera."
"Probably overwhelmed by the crowds of paparazzi outside the house."
"The psychologist said the most important thing is to show her she's secure."
"You need to cut off her hair and change her name or something. A six-year-old girl with long blond hair called Juliet is a giveaway. You might as well hang a sign on her saying 'Made in Hollywood'"
"You think so?" Panic sank sharp claws into her flesh. "I thought coming out here to the middle of nowhere would be enough. The name isn't that unusual."
"Maybe not in isolation, but attached to a six-year-old everyone is talking about? Trust me, you need to change it. Puffin Island may be remote geographically, but it has the internet. Now go and hide out and I'll see you Friday night. Do you still have your key to the cottage?"
"Yes." She'd felt the weight of it in her pocket all the way from New York. Brittany had presented them both with a key on their last day of college. "And thanks."
"Hey." Sky's voice softened. "We made a promise, remember? We are always here for each other. Speak to you later!"
In the moment before she hung up, Emily heard a hard male voice in the background and wondered again what free-spirited Skylar saw in Richard Everson.
As she slid back into the car the child stirred. "Are we there yet?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
Delightful novel! What a delightful story in a beautiful setting this is - simple heartwarmingly beautiful! It has engaging characters, a great plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading and beautiful scenery - add a great author and you know you’ve got a winning combination and a book to enjoy. Emily’s had her life turned upside down, back to front and inside out. First her long term boyfriend dumped her, then her famous film star half sister is killed in a plane crash and then she found out that her sister had appointed Emily the guardian of her six year old daughter, Juliet Elizabeth, even though they had never even met! Not only that but the press are trying to get photos of Juliet to the extent that one photographer broke into the child’s bedroom and scared her. In an effort to give Juliet time to grieve for her mum, for the two of them to get to know each other and to come to terms with the changes in their lives, Emily takes Juliet to her friend Brittany’s cottage on Puffin Island. The first thing they decide is to call Juliet Lizzie, to try to put off any paparazzi on their trail. Not a bad set of ideas, you’d think, but Emily has a traumatic experience in her past that makes her terrified of the sea - even the sound of it can bring on a panic attack! How will she cope living in a beach side cottage? Brittany calls a close friend and neighbour, Ryan, to ask him to keep an eye on Emily. He’s had more experience than most of bringing up children, taking responsibility for his three younger siblings when their parents were killed and he was only thirteen years old. He is determined not to have any such responsibilities again and strives to keep his freedom. Despite this, following serious injuries, he has returned to the island, recovered and now it helping regenerate the island’s marina and harbour. He goes to call on Emily and is instantly attracted to her. Can he resist temptation? What about the child with her? He guesses there’s more to learn about why Emily is on the island but does he really want to get involved? A great tale of people learning to cope with dramatic tragedies and changes in their lives. The community of Puffin Island are resilient, and their role in the story really enhance the whole saga. I’m looking forward to reading future books in this series and meeting more of them again! I’ll also be looking out for more books by this author as I have no hesitation in highly recommending this book.
So loved this book by Sarah Morgan. Well written and great. Such a sweet story with the aunt taking care of her young niece. Wonderful characters and would love to know them. Such love and bonding. Just loved it.
This was my first time reading this author and I really enjoyed the book. She had great characters with a wonderful story that has me waiting patiently for the second book in the series. I will have to check out some of her others books
Courage,acceptance,love and frienship is all in this book.
Powerful,Magical,Extraordinary - these are the first three words that come to my mind when I think of First Time in Forever. This is story about friendship,love and second chances at life,Sarah Morgan brings to us one emotional,enchanting,heartfelt journey of two people that are destined to be together! Ryan & Emily are one of my favorite book couples,and this is one of the best read for me in this year,also one of the best books I've read in my life! Amazing,amazing book!*ARC provided by the author for an honest review.*
For The First Time In Forever is the first in the new Puffin Island series from author Sarah Morgan and kicks of the series with a heart warming and emotional start. I loved everything about it from the small town feel to the main characters’s histories and what leads them to cross paths at this moment in their lives. Raising a child and living on a small town island. Two things Emily Donovon never would have pictured for herself. Yet, here she was, on Puffin Island now raising her six-year-old niece….and not really adjusting well. Her adjustment could be because she was trying to keep her semi-famous niece out of the spotlight while simultaneously trying to avoid a panic attack with every glance at the ocean thanks to a traumatic event from her childhood. Yeah, because avoiding ocean views while living on an island was easy to do. But this island had been a place of solace though her younger years and there was no better place to rebuild and restart than here. An added distraction she didn’t need was one like Ryan Cooper. Handsome, charming good with kids, smart, kind…and not on the menu. She had sworn off men the minute she broke up with her serious boyfriend a month ago and it was solidified when took on parenthood. That would prove to be easier said than done when Ryan is there every time she turns around, willing to lend her a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on… Ryan Cooper can spot a woman with baggage a mile away. He had plenty of his own to know that look. He saw it every day when he looked in the mirror. He had promised his childhood friend that he would help her friend and the new guest on Puffin Island, and, because he wouldn’t dare say no to his friend, he was doing just that. It should have been a whole lot easier than it was turning out to be. He swore off having kids of his own years ago, and in turn dating a woman with children. He had been down the child rearing route before and now he just wants his freedom to come and go as he pleases. Unfortunately, every time he looked at Emily, those reasons flew out the window like an island summer breeze. This favor would soon turn from a favor for a friend into a possibly life changing relationship…. Each suffering from a less than picture perfect childhood and plenty of emotional damage, Ryan and Emily couldn’t have been more perfect for one another. Of course, it will take a whole lot longer for them to realize it. Will they give love and new beginning a chance to blossom on Puffin Island? This book was just so wonderful and well-rounded. There was a bit of mystery to both Emily and Ryan that lingered on and made me curious. There was sexual attraction and heat between them that made me swoon. There was a soft side to Ryan that made me melt. There was a vulnerable side to Emily that made my heart ache. There was a sense of community with the secondary characters that made me appreciate each and every one of them. I loved that I was able to feel so many different feelings and emotions as I dove into this story. I truly felt as though I was a visitor on Puffin Island, enjoying visits with friends. The best part, however, were the interactions between Ryan and Emily and their relationship as it builds. Neither one wants it, but neither one can deny the pull they feel. The heat builds at a delicious pace with quiet moments and stolen kisses and before they realize it, into something much more potent. I don’t blame Emily…there ’s no way any woman could stay away from someone like Ryan! Talk about the whole package…yum. Together they make a well-balanced couple and even with a few stumbles along the way, manage to make it work in the end. If you’re looking for an afternoon escape with a really good book, this should be on your list. I know I enjoyed my stay on Puffin Island and am looking forward to a return trip in the future! Thank you, Ms. Morgan, for a fabulous read!
4 swoony, romantic, healing, captivating stars! First Time in Forever, by Sarah Morgan, was such a wonderful reading escape! I’m so happy that I got the chance to read this book. I loved it from beginning to end! Emily, Lizzy, Ryan and the whole gang from Puffin Island are absolutely amazing! If you are a fan of small-town romance, this book is exactly what you are looking for! It’s romantic, realistic and heart-melting! I have to admit that every time I read a book from Harlequin there is a big smile on my face. This is where my love for reading started. I lost count of how many Harlequin books I read. I always get lost in the stories and I know for sure that my reading journey will be a memorable one. First Time in Forever was not exception. I absolutely loved it! First Time in Forever is the story of Emily Donovan and Ryan Cooper. When Emily moves to Puffin Island with her niece, Lizzy, the last thing she wants is to be noticed. Taking care of Lizzy is something that she's not comfortable with. When Brittany's friend, Ryan Cooper, welcomes them to Puffin Island, Emily is confused by the attraction she feels towards him. As days go by, Ryan gets closer to discovering Emily's secrets. Ryan never expected to find such a fascinating woman in Bethany's house. The more Emily pushes him away, the more he wants to get close to her. Will Emily and Ryan learn to trust each other and give their relationship a chance? Emily and Ryan were such great characters to follow. Their chemistry was amazing! The romance was slow-building, but their attraction to each other was instant. Ryan got under Emily’s skin and made her feel things she has never felt before. The more time they spent together, the more they grew closer. Ryan was amazing! He was a character full of life. The way he took care of Emily and Lizzy was just wonderful! I was happy that the author gave us his story as well. His life has not been easy, If there is one person that could help Emily heal and find the real person that was hiding behind those walls, it was Ryan. He made her feel alive when she least expected it. I was left speechless with Emily’s transformation. She was a totally different character by the end of the story. I loved how she took charge of her life and faced her fears. Go Emily!!! What I really loved about this story is how the author created outstanding supporting characters for Emily and Ryan’s story. They all had an important role in this story. Lizzy is such a wonderful kid. She will steal your heart! She stole the show with one scene in the book that left me speechless. She’s a smart cookie that one! ;) Skylar was another character that I loved. Brittany's book is next in this series. I was expecting Skylar's book next, but I can't wait to read Brittany and Zach's story! I want to know what happened all those years go! I'm super excited about this new series! Sarah Morgan’s previous and new books will find their way on my TBR list without a doubt. Her writing style is captivating! I had a blast reading First Time in Forever! I give, First Time in Forever, by Sarah Morgan, 4 swoony, romantic, healing, captivating stars!
A new contemporary romance series from Sarah Morgan is set on Puffin Island, off the coast of Maine. Island romances, much like small town ones, tend to have an “everyone knows your name’ sort of feel to them, with plenty of unique moments from characters you would be unlikely to encounter in a city. At least not easily. Sarah Morgan took the time to build the scene and world, giving us lovely glimpses of the island and the sea, and her characters’ relationships and interactions with the physical environment, even as she gave us insight into their own psyche’s and relationships with one another. You can picture this little island (I envision it just off the coast of Bar Harbor) as your imagination has you believing you smell the salt air. Emily has just gained custody of her young niece, Lizzy. Completely unprepared for parenting, and utterly frozen with fear that she “may” make a mistake and Lizzie be harmed, she knows that they both need a quiet place to adjust to the change in their relationship. Emily is driven, or halted in her tracks by her fears: they consume her every decision and have her leading a life of avoidance. Through her friend Brittany, Emily is offered a place to bond with Lizzie on Puffin Island. Brittany also calls in a favor from her friend and islander Ryan, asking him to check in on Emily and Lizzie, knowing that Emily will shut down and close off with all of the changes. From the first introduction to Emily and Lizzie on the ferry, we start to see the near-paralytic effect fear has on Emily. Scared of the ocean, she is constantly reminded by the island setting, and her “breathe” through it is not necessarily working. We see Lizzie’s inherent curiosity, despite all the changes, and there are hints that there are big changes to come for Emily with a push from Lizzie. Ryan is able to watch Emily, and know that she isn’t for him. She’s obviously deathly afraid of, well, everything, and she never lets that kid out of her sight. And, she SO isn’t his type. But, she does intrigue him and well, who says you can’t have a moment? Their issues do. And Morgan reveals everyone’s backstory and their “why we won’t be in a relationship’ by bits, allowing them to reveal themselves and all the reasons they won’t work, as they are inexorably drawn together. The interplay, their dialogue and even their stories tug at your heartstrings: you SO want them both to find a happy ending, but they are so damaged and afraid. Fortunately, Lizzie is the catalyst for Emily’s ability to move forward, as I had hoped. Being aware of her own limitations and the pain it has brought her, Emily refuses to be the cause of similar issues in Lizzie. Sure, they are baby steps, but each one brings her closer to finding the courage to want something, deep-down truly want, and go for it. A lovely story that is laden with growth, revelations, heart, emotion and mostly courage. Courage to get up every day when even life scares you, and then the courage to take a chance. I received a paperback copy of the title from the publisher via Media Muscle for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I couldn't put it down and I didn't want it to end. Awesome story, full of emotion, tension, fear, learning, growing, and most of all, love. I loved the characters and the depth of the story. The setting was perfect and I felt myself wishing I could be part of the island. . I loved her O'Neill Brothers trilogy, and this was just as good, maybe better. Thanks for a great story, Sarah! I can't wait for the next two stories in the trilogy
4 - "Feelings are the hardest thing in life to control." Stars! I am starting to get a little author crush on Sarah Morgan, I fell in love with her writing style and easy going story telling after reading her 2014 novel Maybe The Christmas, so when the opportunity presented itself to read the first book in her new Puffin Island series, it was a total no-brainer. First Time in Forever is the perfect beginning, three friends Emily, Brittany and Skylar have used Brittany’s grandmothers beach home Castaway Cottage over the years and for each of them it has become something of a refuge, all for their own reasons, and each of them have their own stories as to why. This book is Emily’s, and the story is wholly her own, but it also sets the scene, introduces the islanders and gives you the background for everything else along the way. Ryan Cooper has spent a large part of his life being responsible for others, he isn’t interested in taking that role on anymore, life is his for the living, and no responsibilities, attachments or expectations are wanted in the mix anymore. That is until Emily arrives on the Island, with a young child in tow, he can sense her unease, her emotional detachment and her overall fear of the whole situation she is in, and the honorable man in him wants to help, it doesn’t hurt that he is sex-on-a-stick hot, charming to a fault and gets along with pretty much everyone he crosses paths with. ”I see you Emily Donovan. I’m standing here, looking right at you, so you can damn well stop hiding.” This is one of those books I just get absorbed in, I loved the main story, I loved all the little side stories that ran through it as well, you are literally getting to know the Island and its inhabitants as Emily and Ryan work out what they actually want from each other. A brilliant start to what I expect is going to be an extremely memorable series. Brittany and Zach are reunited on the Island in the next book in the series; Some Kind of Wonderful which is due in July 2015, so not too long for this eager reader to wait! ARC generously provided via Netgalley, it was my pleasure to provide the above honest review.
This emotionally intense novel was a joy to behold. Morgan looks at life in such a manner that she puts everything in perspective, allowing readers to not only understand her story, but to gain a deeper understanding of themselves in the process. Light-hearted moments follow heartbreaking ones in a full-fledged manner that really draws you into the story. I laughed and I cried. By the end of the story I was left with a big smile on my face and a sense of peace. Morgan’s picturesque descriptions take readers on a journey to Puffin Island. You feel as if you’d actually been there. Morgan’s intricately crafted & well rounded characters will capture your heart. The emotions felt by and surrounding these characters are so poignant that you don’t read this story, you live it. I loved getting to know them. And Morgan doesn’t simply focus on her main characters. As in life, friends and family are ever important. But don’t get me wrong, the main characters are absolutely unforgettable. Both are simultaneously strong yet vulnerable, but in different ways. On top of that, they were just plain enjoyable characters. Ryan’s fun loving ways contrast with Emily’s ever serious nature in some very comedic (and at times explosive) moments. Their journeys to ‘forever’ will have you hooked. This novel is emotionally intense and creatively brilliant. Morgan has captured me heart & soul. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
In First Time in Forever (Puffin Island #1) by Sarah Morgan, Emily keeps her emotions under tight lock and key. It's safer that way. When she suddenly finds herself guardian to a young niece she's never met before, her life takes a dramatic change. She doesn't want this responsibility, doesn't feel she has anything to offer young Lizzie. Tragedy at a very young age still haunts Emily, and this holds her back, haunting her and keeping her closed off from most people. Despite all this, it seems Emily is going to do whatever she needs to to keep Lizzie safe. She escapes to Puffin Island to do this, and to figure out what comes next. Small town and surrounded by the ocean, Puffin Island doesn't seem like it should be what Emily needs... Ryan is back on Puffin Island, a place he couldn't wait to escape from after too much responsibility at a young age. But tragedy in his life brings him back home. Running his business keeps him busy, and he has no intention of ever settling down. His carefree life and lack of relationship commitment suit him just fine. But when he agrees to check on Emily for a mutual friend, he doesn't expect the undeniable attraction to her. Ryan finds himself drawn to Emily, wanting to know her secrets, wanting to help her. On Puffin Island, Ryan and Emily can't help but run into each other, and they start spending more time together, along with little Lizzie. Even as Emily works through her inner turmoil, the time she spends with Ryan makes her feel like she's never felt. In some ways he's good for her, but in other ways he's not. He's made it clear he's not looking for a relationship, and Emily has more than just herself to think about now. Ryan enjoys spending time with Emily and Lizzie, but he resists any hint of commitment, even when his heart is telling him otherwise. Will Emily and Lizzie find security and their future on Puffin Island? And how will Ryan fit into it, if at all? First Time in Forever is a great start to a new series by Sarah Morgan. I love the setting she's chosen! The ocean and small town island life really called to me through this book. With her vivid descriptions, it was easy to smell the salt air and hear the surf, and Sarah took me there. There is so much going on, just like in real life, and Sarah weaves it all together expertly and believably. The main characters are realistic with many layers that are slowly peeled away. They both have their flaws and their pasts which helps bring them to life. Emily has many fears and insecurities, and even though she claims not to be able to give Lizzie what she needs, her actions show otherwise, whether or not Emily can see this. I loved the growth Emily showed in First Time in Forever, and watching her come into herself and find peace with her life was such an emotional journey. Ryan has had his share of pain too, and it's led him to where he is today. Will he be able to move past that? I really liked the connection between Emily and Ryan, how it played out, and where they took it. At times a fun, humorous journey, at other times serious and heart aching, it was realistic and easy to lose myself in their world. I love all the secondary characters we meet in First Time in Forever. Lizzie is a strong secondary character who features prominently in the plot, and there are numerous other characters I am looking forward to seeing more of in future Puffin Island books. I really liked Ryan's family, especially his grandmother and how they were worked so well into the plot. Learning to trust yourself, being able to trust others, and taking a shoulder to lean on is something both Emily and Ryan struggle to do, and their whole journey, not just the romantic one, makes First Time in Forever a great read. Entertaining and entrancing, I'd recommend First Time in Forever to any romance reader.
Reviewed by Annie and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog FIRST TIME IN FOREVER is the first book in Sarah Morgan’s new Puffin Island series. Think small town romance on the sweeter side that kind of reminds me of Jill Shalvis’ books a little bit. In this book, Emily Donovan experiences a whole life change that doesn’t seem fair to her. After her Hollywood starlet sister gets killed in an accident, her young daughter Juliet is thrust upon her, leaving Emily with no choice but to leave her own life and start another on Puffin Island where she hopes that no one will recognize the child. Not only has she have to get used to the idea of being a guardian, but she also needs to get used to the nosy habits of her new neighbors and more specifically, the attentions of hottie Ryan Cooper. Though curious by nature, Ryan is trying to help his friend out by watching over her friend while she stays on Puffin Island. As a man who is the most eligible bachelor on the Island, Ryan tries to stay clear of children after having raised his siblings himself. However, there seems to be something magnetic about Emily and her child that grips him, making it impossible to step away. As my first book by Morgan, I was surprised to find myself instantly enjoying her writing style. She’s a very polished writer, creating a story that is both magical but also realistic as it deals with delicate emotions, especially on Emily’s part. Morgan could have made Emily complain the whole way through but instead she creates a mature character that not only remains strong when her whole life shatters around her, but also in the face of love – another thing Emily doesn’t have good experience with. Friendship and communitare big aspects of this series, reminding me of Jill Shalvis’ books. But Puffin Island also reminds me of Lisa Kleypas’ CHRISTMAS AT FRIDAY HARBOR as well, so if you’re a fan of either authors, then you need to check out Sarah Morgan! I am thrilled to have discovered Morgan’s books. I cannot wait for the next book, but in the meantime I’ll be definitely checking out her backlist. *ARC provided by publisher
Have you ever moved in your mind to the location in the story you were reading because the setting felt so real? That is how I felt about First Time in Forever. I was there on Puffin Island experiencing life. Sarah Morgan allowed me to experience life on the Island - the bonds that are formed between the islanders, friends and family; how they take care of one another and go the extra step for each other. As I watched Emily overcome her fears and grow as a new parent; emotionally, as a person with a lot of emotional baggage, I was able to empathize with her. Emily, Lizzy and Ryan were all connected through their processes of healing. It was enjoyable to watch as each one of them developed relationships on new levels. I am struggling a little to write this review, only because I do not want to give too much of the story away, but on the flip side, I would LOVE to expand on the details. Please, read the book and experience Puffin Island, its beauty and the bonds of friends and family. It is a sanctuary, ready to restore you.
Go and buy this now, that is my advice to romance lovers out there. This story is about Emily and Ryan, both have had traumatic experiences when they were younger and neither one of them wanted to be a parent and Emily in particular did not want to love anyone ever again because it causes too much heartache. Emily's life is mundane until one day she receives a phone call telling her that her half sister had died and that she was now the guardian to her 6 year old niece. That in itself is hard for Emily but throw in the fact that her half sister was a famous actress who died in a plane crash with her supposed older lover and the paparazzi are out for any information about Juliet (her niece) they can get and Emily has to do something drastic and leave her home and go and stay in her friend Brittany's cottage on Puffin Island in order to protect her, the main problem however is that Emily hates the water so the ferry trip to the cottage is traumatic enough but to live on the island is also torture for her as the cottage is close to the beach and the sea, throw in the fact that she does not know Juliet or how to talk to a grieving child, she feels she can not cope. So when she lands on the island she phones her friend Skylar and talks to her about her fears, Skylar says that one day she will think that this change of course in her life will be the best thing that even happened to her that she just had to wait and see - Emily does not agree. Ryan notices that the light is on in his friend Brittany's cottage and knowing that she is away on an archeological dig and that she does not rent it out, he is worried that someone is there. Then he hears from Brittany and she asks him to keep an eye on her friend Emily because she is the one staying at the cottage, she told him that Emily would deny his help but he had to protect her. So the next day he calls round only to have the door nearly shut in his face by Emily. However Ryan is persistent and knows that he has to help his friend - the only problem is that he was instantly attracted to the green eyed woman and knows that is not how Brittany would want him helping her friend. Emily has no idea who the man is at her door and is prepared to protect her niece any way she can, so she keeps the door nearly shut while talking to him, when she finds out that Ryan is a friend of Brittany's she relaxes slightly but she still does not invite him in, she does however feel the pull of attraction to him and knows that he could be trouble with a capital T to her hormones and that she does not allow. It takes time but Emily learns to trust Ryan with her secrets and throw in the lovable 'Lizzy' and Ryan does not stand a chance of not wanting to help. This story is very well thought out and written, it keeps you turning the pages and I myself was unable to put it down. I loved all the characters and you could imagine yourself in the setting too as everything was described beautifully - I now what to live on Puffin Island. Now I am counting down to July as I can not wait for Brittany and Skylars stories to be told. Thank you Sarah Morgan for holding my attention and giving us this beautiful love story.
Sarah Morgan kicks off her new Puffin Island Series with “First Time In Forever” set in the beautiful locales of Maine. And the story is classy in its simplicity, painful in its past turmoil, passionate in its new explorations and just purely beautiful in its narration. Emily escapes to Puffin Island along with her niece Juliet Fox (Lizzie), when she’s given the mantle of guardianship after her stepsister dies in an accident. City bred, fighting past fears of guilt and death, Emily is placed on a precarious precipice of taking care of a little girl she has never met before. Shutting herself off to love and with the support of her two best friends Brittany and Skylar, Emily is hiding on Puffin Island, trying to protect her niece from the paparazzi and learn how to be a parent. Pulitzer award winner Ryan comes home to Puffin Island, leaving behind the gory days of maritime reporting and the glory days of being a famous world-class journalist. Raising toddler siblings after his parents’ death, he knows very well the responsibilities of parenting and the many fears that come with those responsibilities and truly understands the fears that Emily is facing. Meeting with Emily brings to the surface what Ryan’s been missing in his life and wants to take Emily into his folds of love and protection. Sarah Morgan weaves a really emotional story of love and support, fears and insecurities, warmth and protection that Puffin Island gives freely to its residents. The insightful conversations between Ryan and his Grandmother are beautifully placed as him romancing and helping Emily face her fears. Emily is one beaten but courageous aunt wanting to protect her niece from all the bad in the world, even if she has to overcome her past fears. Sarah’s narration is brilliant and you can’t but help inexplicably be drawn into the lives of Ryan and Emily. The flow of the story is smooth as silk, and the introduction of characters at various strategic curves in the story is perfect. Laced with wit, filled with pain, supported with unconditional love and with a hint of more romance walking the beaches of Puffin Island, “First Time In Forever” fills you with hope and faith that good exists with the bad, relationships can be built through hearts, and love and support does exist on unconditionally. Received an ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley for an honest review.
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.