Jordan Thompson is the President’s daughter, so all eyes are on her as she goes to college in Florida. Always toeing the line and never questioning her parents’ conservative beliefs, she’s the perfect child to support her Republican father as he plans a reelection campaign that will be backed by a family values platform. Jordan doesn’t like the spotlight, and she just wants to do well in school so she can start a career in engineering, so dating is the last thing on her mind.
Jordan needs to bring her grades up, so she hires a tutor to help. Drew Hamilton is pretty much the opposite of Jordan, since she’s a Democrat and a medical student from Wyoming with a career in rodeo. And Jordan doesn’t know it yet, but Drew is a lesbian too.
Drew has laser focus on her goal of finishing medical school so she can set up a practice back home, which means she’s not particularly interested in making friends with the nice rich girl that hired her, let alone pursuing anything romantic with a straight girl. Even so, the two strike up a friendship that makes them feel more for each other. Can a relationship ever work between Drew and Jordan when they come from two such different backgrounds?
Jordan has a fabulous character arc from complacent daughter to woman who’s willing to stand up for the relationship she needs. We get a good sense of how restrictive her life is as she’s bound by the double whammy of parental expectations and public perception, and how that forces her to examine her priorities. She was likeable enough at the beginning of the book and I was very happy with how much she’d grown by the end. I also thought her journey of recognizing and accepting her sexuality was handled well, so we could sympathize with Jordan and the pressures she dealt with, without being everything getting overwrought.
As much as I enjoyed reading about Jordan, Drew had my heart. She’s driven and determined, with an incredible work ethic. She’s a solid, kind person and is grounded in exactly the kind of way that makes her a perfect partner for Jordan. Also, hellooooo hunky rodeo butch! She totally gave me a new aesthetic to appreciate. Drew may not have had as big an arc as Jordan, but that worked just fine because it kept the story focused.
The Writing Style
I read First Love when it was released five years ago and I loved it. Like, totally head over heels fell for it. And I still loved it this time around, but with American politics being what they are at the moment, it feels like a book from another time (and, well, I guess it is). That’s why it’s simplest to look at it as that Romeo and Juliet scenario, with people from opposite sides falling for each other and not think too hard about what it means to be a Democrat vs a Republican right now.
At the heart of it, First Love is about falling for someone you’ve been told you shouldn’t and taking a stand when you need to. The romance is developed beautifully, the story’s pacing is just right, the sex is hot without being too much, and that happy ending is perfect.
Melissa Sternenberg is quickly becoming one of my favourite lesfic narrators and she was a perfect choice for this book. She differentiated the voices well and I especially loved how she captured Jordan’s sweetness and naivete, as well as her angst when everything hit the fan. I will happily listen to anything she’s reading!
Pretty much everything worked for me!
Okay, so when I said pretty much everything worked for me, that’s because one thing didn’t. Drew had no idea that she was tutoring the President’s daughter. HOW??!!!? I mean, that’s actually explained because Drew’s roommate asks the same question, but still. It’s so implausible that it pulled me out of the story.
Also, some people may not love that Jordan has some serious homophobes around her, although it works well for showing how Drew and Jordan are from different worlds and the challenges Jordan faces in accepting her true self.
Excerpt from First Love by CJ Harte
“How soon would you like to start?” [Jordan] asked.
The look of surprise on Drew’s face was worth the interview. Apparently, she’s not as unflappable as she appears.
Drew started to speak and then stopped.
“When would you like to start? Jordan again asked.
“How about tomorrow? At the undergrad library? Say around seven?”
“I’d prefer if we studied at my place.” She could see Drew hesitating. “I study better if there are fewer distractions. I live by myself, so no one will interrupt. Here’s my address, phone number, and directions. Any questions about money?”
“No, ma’am. I do realize that the tutoring center is free. I think it’s only fair to say I offered to tutor at standard university rate. That could save you quite a bit of money.”
Now it was Jordan’s turn to be surprised. She was beginning to like this stranger more and more. “Thank you. My family can afford the additional amount. And we’re willing to pay extra to have you available when, or if, I need help. That’s only fair. By the way, do you always call everyone ma’am?”
Drew had a trace of a grin on her face, and Jordan realized how attractive she was. No, handsome was the only way to describe Drew Hamilton.
“No, ma’am,” Drew answered, “only females. Males are sir. Any other questions, ma’am?”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781602829497
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
- Narrator: Melissa Sternenberg
CJ Harte Online
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