Third-grade teacher Maddie McCormick was thrilled when the greenhouse classroom actually came to fruition—but she hadn’t counted on angering the local street thugs, or their threats.
Police officer Ben Belliston hadn’t planned on fatherhood—ever—but gaining custody of his orphaned niece had him rearranging all of his priorities. She and Maddie, her new teacher, bonded right away, so he was happy to provide a little off-duty security in the greenhouse—it was more than a fair exchange for the way Maddie helped his niece from her shell. He hadn’t expected to begin seeing his best friend’s little sister in a new light, or the way it would make him question all of his future plans.
I'm a sucker for life-long friends that finally see their relationship can be more. Probably because I was friends with my own husband for ten years before we were old enough to get married. :)
Anyway, Maddie is a sweetie. Kind, considerate, gentle. She's exactly what Felicia needs after her abusive mom overdoses and leaves her alone. Ben doesn't realize it, but Maddie and Felicia together are what he needs to heal the wounds of his own troubled past.
Tullis does a great job creating believable characters who are suffering from real situations. Maddie is a normal woman whose been in love with her brother's friend for a long time. She tries dating others in the hopes of moving on, but it just isn't the same. Ben carries the baggage of an alcoholic dad and an enabling mother. Felicia lives in fear of disappointing other and being slapped around for it. Ben and Felicia need to learn to trust and accept the love that's being given to them. Maddie's steadiness is perfect.
I felt the story progressed naturally and believably. There was just enough tension from the gang members threatening the greenhouse to cut the sweetness of the romance.
The only bad thing I can think of is the ending came really fast for me. I wanted Ben to have to work harder to earn back Maddie's trust after his declaration of love. Don't get me wrong, it was good and I enjoyed it, but for some reason I can't put my finger on, I wanted just a little more.
I give First Crush a solid 4.
1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure