The First Move
Grade : A-

Do you think all category romances are set in small towns? Do you think they all feature perfect, virginal heroines who fall in love with billionaires or sheiks? If so, I encourage you to read The First Move. Featuring complex characters, realistic situations, and a wonderful feel for place, this romance engaged me from start to finish. I strongly recommend it.

Renia — or Rey — Milek has come a long way since her teenage years in Chicago. After a horrific accident killed three members of her family, young Rey was lost. Ignored by her grieving mother, Rey did whatever felt good and became known as one of the fast kids in school as she did stripteases at parties, drank heavily, and had sex with any available boy. Her mother eventually kicked Rey out of the house, not realizing that she was pregnant. Rey was fortunate to be taken in by a relative who helped her put her baby up for adoption.

Rey is now a successful wedding and children’s photographer in Chicago. She has limited contact with her mother and has never gotten over her past. Rey lives a quiet, subdued life, holding in her feelings. Despite some physical changes, Miles Brislenn recognizes Rey immediately at his ex-wife’s wedding. That’s not surprising as Miles had a huge crush on Rey throughout high school and always wondered what happened to her when she disappeared from school.

Rey has no idea who Miles is. When she finds out he attended her high school, she’s fears she hooked up with him or stripped for him. While Miles was all too aware of Rey in high school, Rey didn’t know he existed. A self-proclaimed dork, Miles was a member of the math club, not cool enough to be invited to the fast parties Rey attended.

Rey wants nothing to do with Miles, nothing to do with a potentially serious relationship, but Miles doesn’t give up. Theirs is a slow, awkward relationship that at times seems destined to fail. Initially Miles seems almost perfect, willing to put up with anything Rey dishes out. We gradually learn that Miles too has baggage, and he’s far from perfect. Sometimes he puts his foot in his mouth. Sometimes he says insensitive things. Miles and his first wife were awkward teens who got pregnant and married too young. When his marriage dissolved he did and said hurtful things that still haunt his teenage daughter.

I loved the relationship between Miles and Rey, but there’s so much more. The couple faces problems and conflicts with Miles’ daughter. Rey has serious issues related to her daughter and her family. None of these problems are easy, and they’re not resolved in a few quick paragraphs.

The northwest side of Chicago shines through as the setting. This isn’t the glamorous Chicago of Michigan Avenue or Lincoln Park. It’s the part of the City populated by working class, Polish Americans. The food, traditions, and festivals of the area flavor the book, as do the hints of political corruption related to the car accident years earlier.

When I cracked this open I planned to read for just 15 minutes. Instead I read it straight through, shattering all my plans for the day. Miles and Rey aren’t perfect people. Instead, they’re interesting, flawed individuals, who become more interesting over the course of the book. My only wish is that the book had gone on longer. This was a great, unexpected read, and it’s on my short list for best category romance of 2013.

Buy it at A/iB/BN/K

Reviewed by LinnieGayl Kimmel

Grade: A-

Book Type: Series Romance

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : April 24, 2013

Publication Date: 2013/04

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LinnieGayl Kimmel

My first memory is sitting with my mother on a blanket in our backyard surrounded by books and she is reading one of them to me. My love of reading was encouraged by my parents and it continues to today. I’ve gone through a lot of different genres over the years, but I currently primarily read mysteries (historical mysteries are my favorites) and romances (focusing on contemporaries, categories, and steampunk). When I’m not reading or working, I love to travel, knit, and work on various community projects.
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