Review: First Kiss of Spring by Emily March

Reviewed by Sara

First Kiss of Spring follows Caitlin, a successful textile designer, who has decided she’s ready to settle down, make babies and open a daycare back in her hometown of Eternity Springs. Before her big move, she attends a wedding. In her duties as a bridesmaid, she meets Josh, invites him to be her plus-one and BAM! decides he’s the one. Once back in Eternity Springs, Caitlin makes it her mission to win Josh and show him how good they could be together.

Josh has an adorable dog and meets adorable Caitlin, but he’s got a dark past and isn’t into commitment. Although, he doesn’t mind if Caitlin comes over for a booty call or two, so long as the cast of wacky townsfolk don’t find out.

First Kiss of Spring is book 14 in Emily March’s Eternity Springs series and is a stand alone. Part of a long-running series is a long list of characters and First Kiss of Spring definitely had a lot of characters and a lot going on. There’s a car accident, Caitlin’s Dad’s mystery illness, Josh’s paraplegic Daschund, and much, much more! So much so that, at times, it was a bit much. While this was problematic, it wasn’t my main complaint with the book.

My main issue with First Kiss of Spring was that it had this extreme dichotomy between super, saccharine sweet and dark and bitter. Caitlin is the element of sweet. She’s carefree and happy and twee to the nth degree. She is a grown woman with a successful career who drops everything to move back to her childhood home to start a business she has no experience in because she’s ready to settle down. Then, even though she wants a long term relationship and marriage, Caitlin agrees to be what is essentially Josh’s booty call because she believes he’s “the one”  and she can change his mind using what amounts to kindness, positive thinking and the power of her (magic?) vagina.

The dark and bitter part of the equation comes from Josh. When I mentioned that Josh has had a rough life, I wasn’t kidding. If you’d rather not read descriptions of child abuse and neglect, addiction and suicide you might want to pass on First Kiss of Spring because starting with chapter 1, the author periodically inserts journal entries from Josh’s point of view that describe his experiences with these things. You go from reading this sweet story set in a bucolic Eternity Springs to reading about child sexual molestation. The journal entries are jarring to say the least. Outside of the journal entries, Josh’s backstory is one of perpetual sadness, loss and struggle. By the time he meets Caitlin he has carved out a niche for himself as a mechanic, and is surviving.

Normally, I like a Romance where opposites attract and love conquers even the darkest of pasts, but there was something so off about First Kiss of Spring. I feel like poor Josh, who was very upfront with Caitlin about his desire to keep it casual, is almost dragged kicking and screaming towards his happy ending whether it’s what he wants or not. In one instance, when Josh is struggling, he goes to the town matriarch for help (because of course there’s a wise town matriarch in this story!) only to find out that she’s known much of his past all along. She throws Josh this nugget of wisdom for his trouble,

“Open your mind to the idea that much of what you’ve perceived as bad luck is actually good luck that simply hasn’t manifested itself as of yet.”

I’m not sure that I would categorize abuse, addiction and death as “bad luck”. Josh has had a horrible life and to simply sweep away the true tragedies of his past with a bit of folksy wisdom in order to convince him that settling down with Caitlin is a good idea seems almost cruel.

I really struggled to get through First Kiss of Spring. Whether it was the jarring inclusion of Josh’s journal entries, Caitlin’s nauseating adorableness, the seeming lack of consideration for what Josh wants or the combination thereof, First Kiss of Spring just did not do it for me at all.

Rating: C-/D

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

First Kiss of Spring
by Emily March
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

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