Jennifer Bernard created another amazing story with The First Love, book one in her Lake Bittersweet series; a small town somewhere in Minnesota. This is a story that covers a lot of ground, sets up this new series, including a familiar face or two, provide an introduction to several secondary characters. Carly Gault and Thomas Cooper have a second chance at love while moving between the present and past in this amazing narrative of bittersweet moments and life changes. Having an amazing and supportive group of friends, a character or two you will love to hate, and a few surprising twists, uncovering secrets, Thomas and Carly need to regain the trust they lost before they can even consider being together again let alone have a loving future together. Carly and Thomas have a magnetic attraction that is undeniable. Together they might take all the wrongs to make them right. Thomas's teenage son, Danny, added another layer to this complex story. Thomas might be the fire marshall and keep the town safe from flames, but neither can deny the sizzling sparks that arc between them. Ms. Bernard wrote an amazing, emotional, sizzling and heartwarming, story that is not to be missed. She provided a tale rich with magnetic attraction, off the charts chemistry, and endearing relatable characters, helping Thomas and Carly find a loving future together. I highly recommend The First Love to other readers and look forward to finding out who has the next book in the series. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
The First Love by Jennifer Bernard I’ll be honest. I didn’t think I would like The First Love by Jennifer Bernard. I was lucky enough to get a copy to review though and I’ve read all her other books so I didn’t hesitate to start reading. You see, I don’t usually like most second chance stories. But, right from the start, this one had so many interesting characters I couldn’t put it down. It has all the fun quirkiness of a great Jennifer Bernard book along with a few real-life issues that Ms. Bernard always includes in a book to make it really special and realistic. The book starts with the main character, Carly Gault, going back to Lake Bittersweet for the first time in 17 years. That summer, Carly and her four new friends cleaned cabins at the Blue Drake Club and Resort her father owned in Minnesota. The campfire roasted marshmallow incident is sad but hilarious. Carly fell in love with local boy, Thomas, that summer. Then he suddenly dumped her just days before she left to go back to California and college. Seventeen years later, Carly finds herself back in Minnesota at the Blue Drake as the executor of her father’s will, mystified as to why he would have her settle his affairs instead of her brother Conor. Of Gault’s three children, Conor, Carly, and Bliss, she thought Conor would have been the better choice. We do find out why Carly was named executor and the mystery of why Thomas dumped her so suddenly that long ago summer is revealed -- at least my theory behind those two events involves her father. Her father, Steven Gault, was a super famous rock star with the band, Freaks, and quite a character in his purple stovepipe hat and activist causes. I only regret we didn’t get to meet him in person. Much to Carly’s surprise the bar is shut down with a notice stuck on the door from the local fire marshal. Guess who the fire marshal is? Of course, it has to be Thomas, all grown up. In the meantime, Carly meets up with her old chambermaid friends Trixie and local girls Gina and Kendra from that long ago summer. Gina tells her that Thomas has a teenage son and that Brooke, the friend who died sixteen years ago, is the mother. And another fun, big surprise – Trixie Tran from Lost Harbor, Alaska, is the Trixie from that summer 17 years ago! What a fun surprise and we get to know a little more about Trixie. By the end of The First Love, all is revealed and true love finds the way. Without giving away too much of the plot, because it is so worth it to read the book yourself for all the twists and turns, this is a fast-paced and well written story. It’s exciting and sad and fun with lots of detail. I laughed and even teared up a few times. You have to get this book even if you have never read anything else by Jennifer Bernard. It’s exciting to anticipate the future books in the Lake Bittersweet series. Gina and Kendra and Conor (he’s next in The Fling), and Bliss need their own stories told along with Thomas’ brothers, Galen and Billy and maybe even his friend Rick and eventually Thomas’ son Danny will need his own love story. And really, because we need love more love in the world, Gina’s dad, Alvin, the long-time cook at the Blue Drake, needs a love interest. And Yippie!, there is at least one more Lost Harbor book with Trixie in Smitten in Summer. Definitely read The First Love by Jennifer Bernard at your earliest opportunity.
I think I experienced every emotion in this book...and I loved it! Carly is an incredible character who learns a lot about herself and the perceptions she has been harboring for years when she returns to Lake Bittersweet to settle her famous father's estate. She is thrown so many curve balls while going through her father's apartment and his beloved bar, the Blue Drake. The toughest one in my opinion, comes from her first love, Thomas and how Carly comes to terms with it as their young love is rekindling. As she reconciles all she has learned, Carly must make a decision about the future of the Blue Drake, the friends and people of Lake Bittersweet, her relationships and her future. It is impressive how much Carly's determination grows once she gets past all of her insecurities. This is truly a great book that sets the stage for this series with an amazing group of characters in a small but, never dull lake town, to let the reader go and enjoy. I, also appreciate the crossover connection to Lost Harbor, Alaska and look forward to that book and see what Trixie Tran is up to at her ice cream shop.