As I said, here I am! LOL. I'm jumping straight in with a review. It's been a while and I'm a bit rusty, so hopefully, the review isn't awful ^_^; I'm still trying to figure out things and there's a chance some stuff will change... but for now, here we go :)
For the Longest Time by Kendra Leigh Castle
published by New American Library (Signet) in July 2014
For Samantha Henry, it took a ten-year absence to appreciate the close-knit New England town with an appeal all its own...Genre: Contemporary romance
After a perfect storm of events leaves Sam high, dry, and jobless, she has to head home to Harvest Cove to regroup. Growing up, she was the town misfit, and a brief high school romance that resulted in heartbreak made her realize she was never going to fit in. But now with the support of her mother and an unexpected circle of allies, Sam starts to wonder if she’s misjudged the town all these years.
Life’s been good to Jake Smith. He transitioned from popular jock to town veterinarian without any trouble. But Sam’s homecoming makes him question his choices. The sharp-tongued beauty was never a good fit for the small community, but he’s never forgotten her—or how good they were together. While she makes it clear she’s not about to repeat the past, Jake’s determined to convince her to give him—and Harvest Cove—a second chance.
Series: Harvest Cove, Book #1
The Story: I don't think I can do a better job than the blurb as it is pretty accurate. All I'm going to add is: 1) Sam is an artist and 2) what Sam and Jake had in high school wasn't really a romance. It was definitively the start of something until Jake denied his acquaintance with Sam in front of his friends from the popular clique.
My Opinion: In the past year, I've complained a lot about small-town romances and how I'm tired and over them. Yet, I keep picking them up, especially new authors and series ^_^; For the Longest Time is the perfect example of why... because every time, I hope this one will be different, that it'll wow me. And that's exactly what happened with For the Longest Time :)
At first glance, the premises of For the Longest Time is not so different from most small-town romances. You have a heroine who is down on her luck, coming back to her hometown. The first person she runs into is of course the last one she wants to see: the guy who broke her heart in high school. She hasn't been able to erase him from her memory and he's attracted to her and wants to reconnect... However, the way Ms Castle executed it made For the Longest Time very refreshing :) First, the story was focused on Sam and Jake and their romance. Even though this was the first book in the series, there was no information dump, no introduction of a funny cast of characters and very little sequel baiting. Instead, almost everything in the story was relevant to Sam, Jake and their romance. Of course, it's a bit plus that Sam and Jake were very likable and enjoyable characters. They were simply regular people, but I have to say very mature... and that's what made this book for me. They were able to see things with an open mind... For example, Sam left Harvest Cove because she didn't fit in. It was nice to see the woman Sam grew into and it's really no wonder Jake was attracted. Anyway, Sam gave Harvest Cove a chance and once She realized she liked it, she didn't get stubborn about leaving like so many other heroes/heroines. It's little things, but those made the differences when comparing For the Longest Time with other small-town contemporary romances.
The most refreshing part of For the Longest Time for me was that Jake, who had stayed in Harvest Cove, is the one who grew the most, who had a revelation. Usually, it's the other way around... the person who returns has the big revelation which makes it convenient to change his/her mind and settle down. I liked seeing Jake realized that his life was lacking and that his group of friends was insular. I don't want to give too much details, but it was nice. Usually, these books are all about old friendships, reconnecting with old friends and how good it is. But For the Longest Time shows us the other side of the coin which is as true and realistic. It was a bit sad and made me a bit uncomfortable because it hit a bit close to home for me, but in the end, it was nice to see Jake grow. It's also comforting to know that he still has good friends there for him.
Another part I enjoyed a lot was the atmosphere of the story. It was relaxed and quiet. There was no pressure, no obsession... Sam's goal wasn't to get out of Harvest Cove ASAP by any means possible. Instead, it was really the perfect place for Sam to go and re-assess her life. There were no stressful relationships either. I actually loved that Sam had a good relationship with her family. It was nice to see a normal mother-daughter relationship... but more importantly, it was good to see a loving and understandable mother that let her daughter figures things out by herself and in her own times. I enjoyed Sam rediscovering her town and the new friendships she made. I actually liked Sam's new boss, Zoe, a lot and am looking forward to her book.
Of course, For the Longest Time wasn't perfect. For one, I didn't get why Sam was so hard on herself when she came back home. Sam acted like she was an utter failure, as if she lost everything... and perhaps it's me who is not understanding enough, not having been in her shoes... but it felt to me, not that bad. And while the romance was very sweet and I liked Sam and Jake as a couple, I wished there's been more scenes of them together, more interactions. I also felt that the ending was a bit abrupt and fast. In the end though, these were all minor flaws that I easily disregarded because I felt the story was very refreshing :)
My Grade: B+. I was curious about Ms Castle's transition from paranormal to contemporary romance and I'm happy to say she pulled it off admirably :) For the Longest Time doesn't pack a punch, but in its quiet way, it made a way to my heart. I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, Every Little Kiss. March seems too far away!