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First Love, Last Love by Carole Mortimer

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This is an absolute corker of a vintage Mills & Boon/Harlequin. 17-year-old Lauri inspires insta-lust in her 34-year-old, drop-dead-gorgeous boss, Alex Blair. He pursues her relentlessly, with plenty of punishing and fiery kisses. This is Carole Mortimer at her absolute best.

Lauri is very feisty, and quite believably so, in a sort of semi-teenage, verging-on-rudeness way. She finds it so incredible such a great man is interested in her that she snaps back at him a lot and is constantly defiant. In an older heroine, this would be kind of irritating and childish, but given she’s seventeen, it’s more acceptable. Above all she’s strong, not a wilting flower.

We don’t get a consummation scene, sadly, but the banter makes up for it. I particularly liked the fact that Alex confessed his love to her first, after demanding if she loves him (she does, but she doesn’t tell him until quite a bit later). I particularly liked the ending, possibly the best final lines I’ve read in a genre Romance:

“I love you very, very much,” she said huskily. “And if you don’t soon kiss me I think I’ll die.”
“You’re going to make me such a shameless wife,” he chuckled. “Thank God!”
Lauri raised her eyebrows. “I haven’t said I’ll marry you yet.”
“No,” he claimed her mouth in a savagely arousing kiss. “But you will.”
And she did.

O for an epilogue!!!

There’s also a great backstory here, involving Lauren’s family members. The general timeline is this (it relies on Lauren’s grandparents having had children 27 years apart, so let your brain fuzz that a little – Granny Prescott must have had Robert around age 18, and Steve around age 45):

  • ~1947 – Adele, 18, and Robert, 20, get married
  • 1964 – Lauri is born, when her mother Adele and father Robert are ~35, Jane is 17 and Steve 8
  • 1965 – Robert, Jane and Steve’s parents are killed, Jane & Steve come to live with Robert & Adele
  • 1971 – Lauri’s parents die, when she is 7 and Jane is 24
  • 1981 – Lauri is now 17, and meets Alex, 34

Then the other timeline is this:

  • 1961 – Alex’s sister Beth is crippled and her son James, 5, in a car accident
  • 1964 – Beth’s husband Laurence has an affair with Jane, and Lauri is born
  • 1965 – Beth and Laurence move to Switzerland to live
  • 1981 – Beth finally dies, Laurence is now ~51

I guessed half of the final twist that Lauri’s Aunt Jane was the former lover of Laurence, Alex’s brother-in-law pretty early on. I didn’t guess most of the rest of the twist, though, so it was a page-turning read.

100% recommended. Superb stuff, from start to finish!