by Julie Anne Long
Series: Hellcat Canyon #4
Published on May 29, 2018 by Avon
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Single mom Eden Harwood has a lively daughter, a blooming business—and a juicy secret she’s hung on to for ten years. She doesn’t mind a bit that there’s no room for romance in her whirlwind life . . . until six-foot-infinity, smoldery-eyed, bass-voiced Gabe Caldera reminds her of what she might be missing.
The principal of Hellcat Elementary is usually knee-deep in fawning PTA moms, but Gabe only has eyes for the fiery, funny, skittish redhead who barely knows he’s alive. But this ex-Navy SEAL never fails to get what he wants. And what he wants is to fan those sparks between him and Eden into the kind of bonfire you can see two counties away.
The passion is explosive . . . and the tenderness has them thinking about forever. But when Eden’s past waltzes into town for a reckoning, her secret blows them apart. Still, Gabe will never back down from a fight . . . especially if the ultimate prize is Eden’s heart.
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I wasn’t really sure what I’d end up thinking about The First Time at Firelight Falls. I generally don’t gravitate toward books featuring single parents (or parents in general) as main characters simply because I’m not at a point in my life where I relate to those characters and they’re not stories I find myself interested in. Just a personal preference. And while I had that struggle with this book, it was still a good read and I intend to pick up the rest of the books in the Hellcat Canyon series at some point.
Eden is hot for
teacher principal in this cute small town romance. She’s been a single mom to the far-too-smart 10-year-old Annalise who was so much fun to see in scenes throughout the book. At its core, this is a young woman finding love again with a man who is caring and sweet, despite both of them leading busy lives. And it worked for a romance. They had a definite case of insta-lust and it just carried through as their relationship developed into something more.
I liked both protagonists well enough. Both Eden and Gabe are busy adults trying to do it all while also explore the budding relationship between them, and I liked how that played out because it felt real. There was always something to interrupt things but ultimately everything fell into place. Eden went through a lot in her past that she was trying to push aside so she could focus on her daughter and having a solid support system and integrating Gabe into that was really sweet and well written.
All that said, I enjoyed the first part of the book far more than the second half. I felt like the addition of an ex from each of their pasts was too much and rather than enhance the story, pulled it down and pushed their relationship more than it would have gone on its own. I would have liked to see more of their relationship come on its own instead of throwing in these complications that didn’t really fit with the rest of the story.
This is the second book in the Hellcat Canyon series I’ve read and I have to say that despite those issues in the later half, I ultimately enjoyed The First Time at Firelight Falls and really need to get around to reading the first two books in the series!