Dad for Life

First Come Twins
by Helen Brenna
(Harl. Super.#1582, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-0373-71582-4
Set on the island of Mirabelle on the coast of Lake Superior, this is the story of people who grew up together, hurt each other and now have to figure out what they mean to each other now that years have gone by. First Come Twins is the start of a series, and if this is any indication, it will be a series worth reading.

Growing up on Mirabelle, Noah Bennett (son of the chief of police) and Sophie Rousseau (daughter of the local inn keeper and part of the founding family) were often inseparable as kids. They played and learned and as they entered their teens, they discovered love. Both had grand plans to leave the island. Noah wanted to travel and write and Sophie was going to go to college and maybe eventually take pictures of all the places she wanted to see. But the summer before college, Sophie’s father died, leaving her to take over the inn. Noah had to go, and after spending three passion-filled days together, he took off, leaving her alone. In her sorrow, she turned to Noah’s older brother Isaac and when she turned up pregnant, they married.Their two beautiful twins Kurt and Lauren loved their dad. Sophie never completely got over Noah, but she was happy with Isaac. 

Meanwhile, Noah traveled and became a famous war correspondent, writing books and selling papers with his intense stories. But last year, the military personnel he was attached to in Iraq hit a roadside bomb. All were killed except for Noah, who survived with burns and a stump for a leg. He is returning to Mirabelle to recuperate, even though part of him doesn’t ever want to return. He has been estranged from his dad and brother. It is only when he returns that he discovers that Sophie is now a widow. Isaac died in a raid he was making for his job as a ranger.  Noah is suffering from something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he needs to relax. But how can he do so, when he see Sophie and finds he never stopped loving her? How can he do so when he sees the kids and envies his brother the love that they feel for him? And how can he do so when he is assaulted by memories of the island, both good and bad?

Helen Brenna has given us an island with a small town feel, yet it is of a town that is dying. Tourist trade is off and those that come tend to be older couples. Families are slowly moving off the island and something needs to be done. Marty Rousseau, Sophie’s brother, has just returned to settle down with a new wife and he has grand plans. Sophie resents him for the freedom he has enjoyed all these years and now she is scared of the changes he wants to bring to her island refuge. 

Noah is a little bit of a tortured hero but he is also a bit selfish. Sophie doesn’t mince words with him and is determined that he leave again. They start off with left over feelings of hate and misconceptions and end up as friends in a romance that feels like it could last forever. They were fun to read about and their story definitely grips the reader from the beginning and keeps them engaged throughout. 

There are some overly sentimental moments, but generally the story balances the home town charm-smarminess with a “this is what life dealt us, so deal with it” sense of survivorship. The one thing I really liked is that both Noah and Sophie rely on the other at times, but also come to their senses from inside, becoming stronger individuals and not just a strong couple.

Give First Come Twins a try and keep an eye out for more stories of the islands from Helen Brenna.

--Shirley Lyons

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