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01 November 2014

Pippa Croft: The First Time We Met

Entertaining, light and steamy read
From time to time I take a break and move out of my normal wheelhouse of thrillers and historical literary fiction and put a toe into the water of contemporary romance to see what the water feels like. With trepidation I did this with E L James' immensely popular FSOG and was appalled at the public's appreciation of sexual relationship based on dominance and physical abuse. This time I looked at THE FIRST TIME WE MET  to see if another author from a top publishing house (Penguin) could produce something steamy that was not tacky and overly erotic.

Lauren Cusack comes from a reasonably rich American family, with a father who is a respected and powerful Senator. She battles her parents to be able to take her Masters studies in Art History at Oxford University. Shortly after getting to Oxford she meets and is immediately attracted to handsome and arrogant Alexander Hunt who matches her idea of an eminently sexy male. Alexander (never Alex) knows this and is very unhappy when Lauren plays hard-to-get. He is an incredibly rich English aristocrat, heir to an immense estate. who believes that he can get anything he wants - until he meets Lauren.

There are a couple of great scenes that made me enjoy this book. First Lauren's refusal of a Cartier necklace worth tens of thousands of dollars, which makes Alexander even keener to have a relationship with her, to the extent of kicking down the door of her college accommodation. The second scene(s) come later in the book when Lauren meets Alexander's previous girl-friend on his home territory at the massive Falconbury House. The bitchy relationship between the two very attractive women is almost feral and very funny.

Of course in this kind of book the relationship between Lauren and Alexander is steamy and intimate but it doesn't have the same erotic and sadistic and masochistic focus of some other best selling books of this genre. All in all there is a bit of a plot, and on the whole the two main players are independent, intelligent and sensitive people. The choice of a relationship between an independent American female and an arrogant English aristocrat is a bit far fetched.

Of course the finale turns out to be an emotional cliffhanger to make the reader want to move on to the sequel (or 2 sequels in this case). While I enjoyed the interlude and would recommend it to those who follow the steamy romantic genre without too much erotic focus, I have still to make up my mind if I will continue with the series or go back to my comfort food of heavy thrillers.

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