His First and Last by Terri Osburn
I’d describe reading this book best by saying it’s the kind of way you’d spend your time on a hideously humid summer afternoon where it’s too hot to move or breathe.
I’d describe reading this book best by saying it’s the kind of way you’d spend your time on a hideously humid summer afternoon where it’s too hot to move or breathe. Somehow you’ve found yourself a book, and while it’s not that bad, it doesn’t have anything particularly special about it, but the heat makes you too lazy to do anything else, so you stay and sink into it, mildly nodding as the easily predicted outcome comes to fruition.
Lorelei Pratchett and Spencer Boyd are the two attractive main characters. She is a five foot ten wanna-be actress who blew her pop-stand of a small Southern U.S. town to head for the bright lights of Los Angeles. Spencer Boyd is the lean hipped, broad shouldered six foot two inches of high school hunk she threw her engagement ring at before telling him and the town to screw off before said departure. But the forever Lorelei intended to be away only lasted twelve wasted years. Somehow, predictably, Lorelei never forgot her man and despite an ex-wife and lost baby, Spencer, predictably, never forgot his first love.
Now back in town, broke, confused and stunted in her growth as a human being, Lorelei is at the mercy of her do-gooding Granny and the five-years’ divorced Spencer (who conveniently lives over Granny’s garage). Their plan is to rehabilitate the still aimlessly lost Lorelei and help her find her self-worth and make plans for her future right back home where she belongs. (In their impossible hot and humid town - did I mention it was in the South?) Lorelei is stereotypically spoiled and self-centred and wants nothing more than to lick her wounds and leave town as soon as she can.
Now here is where I was hoping the book would take off. Two gorgeous people. Lot’s of heat and humidity. Yup, this is it I thought! This is where all of the slooooow build-up would lead to - a spectacular shout-out-cause-the-orgasm-is-that-frickin-good scene! All the elements were there. A nice, air-conditioned apartment over the garage. Spencer going commando in jogging pants that rode low on his hips and best of all, Lorelei had gone to him freely and with purpose!
Aaaaaaand, it was…just...nice.
Yup. Just nice and nicely predictable. Just like Spencer’s campaign of winning Lorelei back. Nice, gentle and non-threatening. Straight sex. Some gentle humping. A bit of a blow jobby in there too, all very standard but nothing to write home about. In a way, I suppose that this is somewhat of a rarity these days, what with all of the werewolf lovers and mafia, cowboy, space alien romances. A good old tried and true ‘ boy loves girl, girl loves boy’ story is a bit of a white elephant these days. A slow rekindling of a respectful and gentle love..that’s not a bad thing. It’s just not very exciting to read about.
While the story is technically well written (there is a beginning, middle and an end and all the plot lines are explained and make sense), the characters are pretty one dimensional, save for the town newcomer Snow. As we get into the nuts and bolts of the small town hierarchy, along comes a cast of characters, most if not all of them predictable small-town archetypes. There is the self-satisfied Mayor who likes to lord it over everyone and attempts to dominate his way into anything that would benefit the town, the now grown-up bitch-nemesis from Lorelei’s high school days who wanted but never got Spencer, Spencer’s cheating ex-wife, and the do-gooder construction boss (who predictably turns out to be someone’s father) to name a few. I realized at the end of the book why Snow was given more ‘screen time’ and effort - she is the star of the upcoming second book in the Ardent Spring series.
I have to comment on one of the plot devices used to tie up a secondary plotline. One in particular stood out, and that was the resolution to Spencer’s ex-wife’s situation. Spencer’s ex had married a man that hit her. Lorelei sees evidence of this early on, yet does nothing to help. She does, however, intervene at a later date when she witnesses the husband slapping and hitting the woman. There is some action of attempting to find the ex a shelter and police protection, but the way this situation is ultimately resolved is by the sudden death of her abusive husband in a bar fight. To be honest, I found this rather trite and lazy on the author’s account.
Perhaps those kinds of literary choices contributed to my feeling that this book lacked any particular oomph. Hard situations in life rarely, if ever get resolved in such an easy, final way. The themes touched on in this book - bastardy, alcoholism, domestic abuse, the death of a baby, divorce...so much could have been done to make these characters come alive in the vibrant, real-life way people live and experience these daily events, but the book stays true to it’s vanilla demeanor the entire way through to the end. This book could have easily been renamed “Second Chances”. The notion that the past can’t define who we are in our present is one of the themes that consistently pull towards that idea. However, unlike real life, every single second chance is resolved, neatly and politely just in time for the ending.
His First and Last is not by any means a memorable book, but it is proficiently written and is a sweet, pedestrian read: predictable and soothing like a hug from your Granny. As such, this book rates a quiet 3 out of 5 stars.