Review – For the Longest Time (Harvest Cove #1) by Kendra Leigh Castle

For the Longest Time cover image

Publisher: Signet
Publish Date: 1 Jul
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

After a perfect storm of events leaves Sam high, dry, and jobless, she has to head home to Harvest Cove to regroup. Growing up, she was the town misfit, and a brief high school romance that resulted in heartbreak made her realize she was never going to fit in. But now with the support of her mother and an unexpected circle of allies, Sam starts to wonder if she’s misjudged the town all these years.

Life’s been good to Jake Smith. He transitioned from popular jock to town veterinarian without any trouble. But Sam’s homecoming makes him question his choices. The sharp-tongued beauty was never a good fit for the small community, but he’s never forgotten her—or how good they were together. While she makes it clear she’s not about to repeat the past, Jake’s determined to convince her to give him—and Harvest Cove—a second chance.
This blurb came from the author’s website.

Occasionally when I notice I can’t find any hints of upcoming work from an author whose work I really enjoy I have gotten brave enough to politely inquire. In this particular case I have read Castle ever since I discovered her first paranormal mumble moons ago and followed her through a couple of different series and publishers. She was kind enough to tell me she was working on her first contemporary. While contemporary isn’t my main romance sub-genre love, I made a mental note and when I spotted her name in Netgalley I looked at the blurb and had to request For the Longest Time. When I finished reading Castle’s story I had to tweet that I was so glad I decided to take a chance on this sub-genre transition because I loved it.

Sam, so extremely sensitive, a misfit whose reaction to being bullied was to ensure she had nothing in common with the “in-crowd”. Except she became friends with and then fell for Jake, the star football player, when he demonstrated he had a personality away from his friends. Unfortunately neither was mature enough to handle a relationship in high school so they went their separate ways. So when Sam was forced to return home seeing her struggle to not revert to the relationship patterns of her childhood but attempt to change them was very rewarding. I enjoyed watching her gradually reach out, make friends, and regain her self-confidence and then some. I also loved how she was a sucker for an orphaned kitten.

Jake knew he had some work to do if he wanted a chance to make things up to Sam and see what possibilities existed. He had changed and grown up since high school but saying was not making a difference to Sam’s low opinion of him. I had several giggle fits as he was plotting different ways to spend time in her company. It was also very interesting to see his eyes start to open regarding his group of friends and how doing the same thing with them over and over again really wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. I loved seeing him learn how perspective makes quite a difference and something that just was “a normal part of life” to him was torture to someone on the outside.

The dance of Harvest Cove inhabitants around each other was rather fascinating. Several subtle romances existed and watching either the sparks or the tentative glances made the town seem real. As did the separation between the locals and the newcomers regardless of how long the newcomers lived in Harvest Cove. I am hoping to see of those romances progress as this series continues because I am quite fascinated. It was nice to see Sam and Jake’s relationship develop against that backdrop. Their individual interaction and discovery of the changes around them also helped root their characters in Harvest Cove. While I didn’t like every person in Harvest Cove they all fit in certain places and I could replace them with people I remember from my town growing up. The variety of personalities really rounded out the world-building and provided the details I had grown to expect from Castle’s paranormal series.

For the Longest Time took several of the tropes I enjoyed and fit them nicely into one story while giving me ideas about future pairings in this series. I love seeing second chance at love especially when the first break-up wasn’t due to a “huge misunderstanding” but something more realistic given the time and place. I enjoyed the personal growth and discovery journeys Sam and Jake experienced as they worked their way through habits/thoughts/reactions built over a lifetime. I was also very glad for a certain discovery towards the very end of the book because it meant Castle had tied things up full circle. In addition to what I enjoyed about the h/h I also really liked that not all of the former high school in-crowd remained stagnant and superficial but some demonstrated a capacity to grow and gave me hope for the natives of Sam’s generation in Harvest Cove.

I give For the Longest Time an A-

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