The First Kiss by Grace Burrowes #Review

The First Kiss by Grace Burrowes #ReviewThe First Kiss by Grace Burrowes

Series: #2 Sweetest Kisses
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on February 13, 2015
Pages: 417
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars      three-flames

A while back, I read the first book in this series about three lawyer brothers and thought it was heartwarming and adorable.  James Knightley, the youngest of the brothers, now gets his turn.  He was a fun flirty type in the first book and now he is paired with a woman who might be considered his polar opposite.  The story is gently-paced, long slow-burn on the romance, and offers up a bit of suspense to round it out.

This is book two in the Sweetest Kisses series.  While it builds on book one, it would probably be alright as a standalone or out of order if the reader didn’t mind obvious ties to the first book.

Vera Waltham: single mom, concert pianist, widow, divorcee, and now woman dealing with a vandal thought to be her angry ex is rattled to her core to find another disturbing message on her answering machine and her tire slashed all while she had been right in the house working on her hand exercises on the piano.  She can’t seem to make her best music anymore, but she can stay at peek condition.  Only, now, she can’t focus and her daughter will be getting off the bus stop at the end of the long country drive.  A knock at the door brings her lawyer, Trent Knightley’s brother with a copy of her restraining order that went missing.  James sets her somewhat at ease, sends her in his vehicle to get her daughter and sets about changing her tire.  He unsettles Vera in a new way when he hits it off with Twyla, makes her feel safe, and genuinely wants to help.  So she pushes him out the door with enough coldness to see the hurt in his expression and Twyla eagerly talks about James so that she isn’t allowed to push him from her mind like she shoved him quickly out the door.  This, too, makes her see just how broken she has allowed herself to become and how isolated she has kept Twyla.

James is the babe magnet of the brothers.  He never had to lift a finger for women to hit on him and him to find some fun.  But Vera, she is not like anything he has encountered.  For the first time, his wiles do not work and he is rebuffed.  It makes him take notice and take stock of his life.  With each encounter, Vera takes over his thoughts and needs even if he can’t put a name on what’s going on.  He deletes his ‘little black book document’ from computer and phone, he doesn’t answer the calls of other women, and he works hard to be there for Vera and Twyla.  Slowly, but surely he gains a toe hold and then more.  Vera’s ex denies being the one to hassle her and the lack of proof leaves the law’s hands tied meanwhile she is scared.  Her fears are of more than the invasion into her life of the vandal, but of what is growing between her and James.  He feels the same uncertainty and fear even as he sees her music coming back to life and feels satisfaction to have Vera and Twyla in his life.

Alright, this one developed slowly and haltingly since Vera had quite a bit to overcome.  Her circumstances are unique.  She is oddly still very sheltered and innocent even if she has had two relationships and traveled the world on tour as a pianist.  She was discovered early by her first husband and her second husband had been her agent, both were much older and exploited her in their ways until she burned out.  Like any gifted musician, that was and is her life and she struggles with the real world outside and even with connecting with her daughter.  James is like a breath of fresh air.  He accepts her quirky issues and her music.  He surprises her by having his own gifts that include being a lawyer, a business accountant, farmer, and even a strong musical talent that is good though it doesn’t rival her own.

While I loved this story, I’m going to point out that there are a few things that won’t make it universally appealing.  For one, the dialogue and mental monologues are not contemporary.  If I didn’t know better, I would swear I was reading a historical- the turn of phrase, rhythm of speech, and lack of contemporary slang made it tough to settle into the story.  Another aspect is all the technical music and classical music references that they not only use in reference to Vera’s career, but also just in thought as they picture their feelings and relationships.  I got these just fine and even loved seeing how the author used the references to add color and unique way of description, but then again I took ten years of piano lessons from a classical musician so I understood what I was reading.

The romance was sweet and tender and I loved exploring it with this pair.  They had a long ways to go before they met in the middle.  At first, it seems Vera is the broken, wounded one and James the reforming womanizer, but generally stable one until the story progresses and shows that James has also been carrying around deep tears in his heart.  James embraces his attraction to Vera even if he is uneasy about how far it will go, but she balks and pushes him away often.  That doesn’t mean he forces himself on her.  No, he backs away and gives her space.  Vera’s emotions are all over the place as she works to figure herself and what she has with James out.  She was jealous and angry over his ability to befriend Twyla because it forces her to see just how closed off she has been and even from her own child though she never realized it until seeing Twyla being normal with James and his nieces who are Twyla’s new friends.  So she slowly heals and tentatively opens up to the possibilities of her first real relationship to a man that she can help heal, too.

All in all, this was a lovely story with a few quirks.  Now one brother left, Mac, to get his story.  I would recommend this one to those who like a little spice in their sweet, long road to love, and a goodly amount of character and relationship development with three sexy lawyer brothers and their family as the backdrop.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #225 CR
Mt. TBR #90
Blogger Shame #31

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

Latest posts by Sophia Rose (see all)

  • Not sure how I’d feel about the historical dialogue in this contemporary story. But, I’m not familiar with classical music either, so I could be wrong. It doesn’t sound like the book for me, but I like the character descriptions. I’m glad that Vera has finally found a guy who isn’t using her. Great review!

    • Yeah, I felt the need to give the warning b/c the dialogue is a bit out of sync with the story and the depth of writing on her music might be offputting to some.

      Oh, they were definitely good for each other.

  • Grace Burrowes’ contemporaries have been on my mind the last year or so. I keep thinking about reading them. I do wonder if I will have a hard time with the dialogue, though. Thanks for the review.

    • I don’t remember the dialogue being such an issue in book one, but it really struck me in this one so maybe give the first one a try and see if you like it, Quinn. Her writing is still solid and strong so worth the chance. 🙂

  • Debbie Haupt

    Oh wow this looks great Sophia Rose, hmmm now I have to decide whether to get book one or just go for it and read this one! 🙂

    • Haha! Decisions, decisions…

      If my opinion counts, I say go for book one first where you can meet James as a side character in his older brother’s story.

  • Hmm that would bug me on the historical feel to it. That’s a shame she couldnt’ totally separate that style from her historicals. Glad to hear it was an overall good story though!

    • It was distracting and felt off, but the story was strong enough to keep me reading. I have a theory that she was in her historical world when she wrote this one and didn’t flip the switch to contemporary.

  • That does sound like a sweet romance.

    • It really was, Mary. I like them together.

  • Sadly I didn’t connect with this series 🙁

    From your review, I can tell my experience with this was the opposite. LOL Goodness, I feel like such a cold hearted bitch hahaha!

    • Oh, no, you’re not a cold hearted bitch b/c you didn’t connect. 🙂 It happens to all of us with lots of books. That’s the fun of it that people can engage a book from so many diverse directions.

  • I’ve read the novellas and the first book but I haven’t made it to book two yet. I really enjoyed Grace’s historicals but they were starting to get a tad bit stale to me so this contemporary series was such a nice change.

    • I still need to read the novellas and book three. I like these as a nice change up, too. Her historicals have always been hit and miss. I love some, but only like others.

  • I love this type of dynamic – he’s a total flirt and has to win her over. That’s interesting about the historical feel of the speech. Wonder if this author writes HR too.

    • Yes, it was a fun pairing and they both had to work at their respective weak spots to finally get a chance.

      Oh yes, she wrote only HR until she wrote these as far as I know.

  • oh this sounds pretty fantastic!!! I haven’t read this series yet, but I do love this author quite a bit. She is very talented and knows how to write a solid romance. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

    • It has a special charm and was very touching. I do enjoy this series so far. I have one more brother left to go- oh, and the novellas. 🙂

  • I am glad you liked this one but I don’t think I would enjoy it because of the reasons you said-I have no knowledge of classical piano and I hate when the dialogue doesn’t fit the time period. Very well thought out review!

    • Yeah, I didn’t want those elements to come as a disappointing surprise for folks if it wasn’t their thing. Thanks, Lorna!

  • How interesting about the language. You have me so curious about the series Sophia.

    • I enjoy these even with the historical style language. Brothers, Kimberly!!! 🙂