30 March 2014

Book Review: The First Time We Met by Pippa Croft

"Senator's daughter Lauren Cusack is leaving Washington behind for the dreaming spires of Oxford University - and she's ready for a challenge. Now a fully-fledged Master's student, Lauren is determined to make the most of every single minute.

But then she meets Alexander Hunt, and everything changes.

A devastatingly handsome English aristocrat, Alexander is as brooding and enigmatic as they come. Lauren tries to resist his advances, but he has his sights clearly set on the young American, and what Alexander wants, he gets.

Caution soon gives way to mind-blowing passion and Lauren is drawn into Alexander's privileged world of glamour and status. But all that glitters is not gold - for Alexander is a man with a dark past, and desire may not be enough to conquer all else..."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The First Time We Met as a paperback or an eBook now.

This book is the first in a new series by Pippa Croft, otherwise known as author Phillippa Ashley, who has written a lot of other novels. This, however, is her first foray into the world of New Adult literature, a genre which I have enjoyed so far , and so I was eager to start Pippa's Oxford Blue series and see if I'd enjoy that too. I actually read this as an eBook, although it is available as a paperback too, and the second of the novels, The Second Time I Saw You is due out in May.

Lauren Cusack is excited to start her  new life in Oxford, away from the constraits of being a Senator's daughter in America. She loves her parents, but is excited to branch out on her own and study something close to her heart. Lauren struggles to blend in with the English crowd. However, when she meets English aristocrat Alexander Hunt, her life quickly takes yet another new turn. He's a tall, dark, brooding Army sergeant and he's decided that he wants Lauren to be his, whether she likes it or not! She decides to give Alexander a chance, and soon the pair are in the throes of a very passionate relationship. But Alexander is hiding some secrets about his past... can Lauren get him to open to her before it's too late for them?

I haven't actually read anything by Phillippa Ashley before, so had no experience of her writing under that name, so went into her Pippa Croft novel with an open mind. I enjoyed the setting of Oxford University, somewhere I have been many times so I was able to visualise the setting quite easily in my mind which I enjoyed. Lauren was a very likeable leading character, she's quite shy and unsure of herself in a new setting, and it felt very realistic because of that, she felt just how any of us would feel if we were in her situation. I liked that she was trying to break away from her life in America, but was still proud of where she came from - she was just determined to make her own way in the world, not live off her father's name and job.

Alexander was a great hero for the book. He was a bit mysterious, we aren't sure why he's so emotionally shut off for much of the book, but when it's explained, it does make sense. His job is in the Army, so he bears the scars of that work but Lauren is determined to work him out. I liked reading about the relationship of the pair, how quickly it developed and what they got up to once they were a couple. You could tell they were really attracted to each other, and the sex scenes highlighted this - they were well written, and felt like a necessary part of the book, showing us their passion in their relationship. To contrast these two great characters that we are meant to love, there are equally some fabulously dislikeable ones that are brilliant -General Hunt and Valentina to mention a few!

As the book progresses, we get to see more of Alexander and Lauren as a couple, and the scenes set at Alexander's home towards the end of the book really opened the story up for it's sequels. I felt very sorry for Lauren, mixing in a society she had no experience of whatsoever and Alexander's awful family didn't really help matters! The story was very readable, I wanted to keep reading and find out what was going to happen next and if Lauren and Alexander would get their happy-ever-after! Croft's writing is easy to read, it really immerses you in the story, and I'm certainly looking forward to the second book in the series. With a great setting, fantastic characters and a passionate love story, The First Time We Met is a great read in the New Adult genre, and one I definitely recommend.

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