Thursday, July 31, 2014

The First Love Cookie Club - Lori Wilde (Avon - Nov 2010)

Series: Twilight TX (Book 3)

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny.”

The townsfolk of Twilight, Texas, believe the legend, but not Sarah Collier -- not since she was a pudgy teenager, running down the church aisle on Christmas Day in a jingle bell sweater and reindeer antlers, trying to stop Travis Walker from marrying someone else. She may be grown up, slimmed down, bestselling children’s book author “Sadie Cool” now, but Sarah will never forget that day. And she’ll never fall foolishly in love again!

But when a letter from a sick fan brings Sarah back to Twilight, she’s shocked to discover that Travis is the little girl’s father -- unattached and hotter than ever. His movie-star smile still makes her melt, but Sarah knows that ship has sailed. Travis, however, might have different ideas.

Just because you don’t believe in fairy tales doesn’t mean they won’t come true…

I really enjoyed this book. I felt like the problems and emotions were ones that were realistic. While both Travis and Sarah have issues, none of them seem to overwhelm the story. It starts with Sarah as an awkward teenager discovering that the guy she's been dreaming of is about to marry someone else. After humiliating herself by trying to stop the wedding she swears she will never risk her heart again. Fast forward nine years, and Sarah has become a successful children's author. When she receives a letter from a sick fan, she reluctantly returns to Twilight, only to discover that the little girl is Travis's daughter.

I had a little trouble connecting with Sarah at first. She was so resistant about going to Twilight that she came across as a bit selfish. Even once she was there she seemed rather standoffish. Some could be blamed on her memories of that day, but other things about her life are slowly revealed and begin to explain her problem. Her initial meeting with Travis shows her that she has never really forgotten those feelings for him. She also knows that she won't stay in Twilight so there's no sense in starting anything with him, tempting though it may be. She doesn't count on the ladies of the cookie club doing their best to push them together, or that Travis seems equally drawn to her. As the week goes on Travis and Jazzy start to break down the walls that Sarah has built up to keep people out. She starts to connect with them and others, but still doesn't see herself as able to have that happy ending.

Travis was a wonderful hero. From his kind attitude toward Sarah on his wedding day to the amazing father he is today he is awesome. He may have made a mistake by getting his girlfriend pregnant when he was twenty, but he was determined to do the honorable thing and take care of them both. He was an involved father from the beginning, and even more so when Jazzy got so sick. He took on the role of both parents when his wife left them, making Jazzy the center of his world. When Sarah came back to Twilight he was surprised by the strength of his attraction to her. He would be very happy to see where it goes, but he has some of his own baggage to overcome. Between watching his dad fall apart after his mom's death and then his disastrous marriage, Travis resists the idea of soulmates, fearing that his life would fall apart too if he were to lose someone he cared about that much. I really liked the way that he saw Sarah's pain and fears and gave her the space she needed to process what they were beginning to feel for each other.

Even as they began to acknowledge their feelings for each other, there were still some obstacles to overcome. Jazzy's mother comes back to town, causing Sarah to question her own place in their lives. Sarah has some professional problems that also interfere with her decision making process. Then there is a health crisis with Jazzy that brings a whole host of feelings to the surface, causing both Sarah and Travis to take a good look at what they really want from life.

The town itself is another character in the book. I enjoyed seeing the various Christmas traditions and how they worked with what Travis and Sarah were going through. The people had the usual small town nosiness and tendency to interfere, but mostly in a positive manner. There was a secondary storyline that was left hanging, but it is addressed in a later series of novellas. 

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