His Comfort and Joy

An Irresistible Bachelor

Beauty and the Black Sheep

 
From the First
by Jessica Bird
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1750, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-24750-8
**
The third in the Moorehouse Legacy series fits right in with the other two stories – a decent premise but one that didn’t fully deliver on the promise. From The First is Alex’s story and it has been set up since the beginning: Alex is in love with his dead partner’s widow and he feels anxiety about it because it makes him feel disloyal.

Alex was a yacht racer and had won the America’s Cup several times. He is semi-retired because of injuries suffered on his last sailing trip – a trip where he almost lost his leg and his best friend Reese Cutler died in the midst of a hurricane. Alex has been recuperating from many surgeries at the bed and breakfast owned by his family and run by his sister Frankie. His sister Joy has been his nursemaid. Now Frankie and Joy are both married and the bed and breakfast needs to be remodeled following a fire that occurred in the last book. Alex lives in the apartment in the barn. The architect and contractor the family has hired is none other than Cassandra Cutler, the widow.

Cassandra married Reese, who was almost 15 years older than she was, because he was kind to her at a time when she needed kindness. She was fond of him and was true to him, but never really loved him. In fact, Cassandra had strong reasons to believe that Reese was unfaithful to her, but she had never confronted him. In fact, they had not had sex for almost two years following her discovery and she knew her marriage was heading for divorce when he died. Throughout their marriage, she could never understand why Alex seemed to dislike her so much. He often left her presence when they were thrown together and he even left a sailing vacation early after running into her when he came out of the shower on the yacht. Cassandra always thought part of the reason he had left was because he sensed her attraction to him and was disgusted.

In fact, Alex left because he thought his attraction had disgusted her and he realized he couldn’t be around Cassandra without running the risk of being a jerk. He and Reese were like brothers, despite their age difference, and he would never have betrayed his trust. Alex also has the memory of the storm and a hidden concern that he let go of Reese’s hand subconsciously on purpose rather than by accident.

The story is all about angst. Cassandra is attracted to Alex and just can’t understand why she disgusts him so much. Alex is amazingly filled with lust and love whenever she is around and yet, doesn’t want to love her, fearing her hate when she finds out what role he played in Reese’s death. 200 of the 250 pages seem like they involve some mention of this unrequited lust. Alex walks around with an arousal almost the entire story. Cassandra isn’t much better. At points they even start having sex and Alex stops literally in the middle due to his unexpected sense of doing the right thing.

While there was understandable concern about the reasons for their angst, the melodrama of their feelings just seemed too over the top. At one point, others could see the attraction, but these two were blind. There were misunderstandings about other lovers thrown in for controversy but neither plot line was really carried out well, primarily because the “lover” part was only in the mind of the observer, and had never entered the primary person’s mind. Cassandra had a strong friendship with an old friend of Joy’s husband and Alex was convinced they were lovers due to one observed moment of caring. One of Alex’s crew members happened to be a beautiful woman named Mad Dog and Cassandra was convinced they were involved. It was a tad pitiful to watch these two wrestle with their insecurities and incorrect assumptions when all of it could have been cleared up with a little conversation and risk-taking on both of their parts. This lack of intellectual connection between the two lessened my enjoyment of their “heightened sexual lusting turned to love” scenario.

If you have been following the series as I have, then it makes sense to finish the journey of the three siblings by reading Alex’s story, and I think you will find it of equivalent quality as the other two – lots of promise but little in the delivery. Otherwise, From the First is best left on the shelf.

--Shirley Lyons


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