First Step Forward by Liora Blake

51qk4uuqnglThe Grand Valley series starts off with a winning story packed with very appealing characters plus a plot that fully captures the imagination. I have never read any books by Liora Blake, but I will definitely be picking up her backlist to discover what I missed. From the moment Cooper Lowry is met, I instantly fell in love with this sometimes grouchy man whose life is filled with uncertainties. Whitney Reed is delightfully different from many women, yet her caring nature shines through time and again. Liora Blake interweaves intriguing developments to make FIRST STEP FORWARD constantly enthralling.

Being a football player was the childhood dream of Cooper Lowry, and he is certainly thankful for the chance to play professionally for many years. But as the wide receiver for his team, he frequently gets tackled when the ball is in his possession. In his last game, Cooper got hit and afterward much of his body was not working quite right. Luckily for him, he gets some advice from a woman as he walks back home. Yet her helpful suggestions are not enough to counter the effects of the injury that he suffered, and Cooper is told not to show up to practice until the end of the week.

When Whitney Reed bought an orchard three years ago, she had hoped it would lead to much better days for her. But numerous setbacks during the growing season leave her with little money and foreclosure looming. Although she does love being a businesswoman, with no prospects of getting a loan anywhere, Whitney fears she will soon lose the land she owns in a small Colorado town. However, she did enjoy meeting the charismatic football player when she had been in Denver pleading with a bank. When Cooper decides to visit her during his forced time off, the bad luck both are currently having just might be forgotten, at least for a short period.

There are so many compelling scenes in FIRST STEP FORWARD that I have fondly recalled after completing the book. Cooper is a charmer, and his comments plus inner thoughts are continually priceless. The moments when he is conversing with either a teammate or one of his brothers are always filled with humor and lots of snarky remarks. But when it really counts, he is ready to offer his undivided attention and assistance. From organic farming to her views on how to live her life, Whitney follows her own set of rules. She is an independent woman who wants to make her farm productive without help, yet this self-determination causes some major personal problems. I was often anxious to see how Cooper and Whitney would work out their various differences, as both are stubborn and not easily swayed.

Sex is the one aspect of their relationship where their wishes are the same. Several of their encounters are extremely steamy, and their inventiveness kept these moments exciting. The story is told from both viewpoints, which repeatedly gives their opinions about the same incident. Though their romance is the focus of the story, life choices do play a big part at times. When it comes to her work as an organic farmer, I enjoyed seeing what she did in the orchard or after the fruit was picked. Football is very important to Cooper, and whether he is on the field or working through a problem, every single scene is convincing. Liora Blake creates situations where characters are believably realistic. FIRST STEP FORWARD is deeply affecting and absolutely outstanding.

Received copy from publisher

Series:  Grand Valley

Publisher:  Pocket

Releases:  November 29, 2016


Genre:  Contemporary

Author website:

Rating:  5 Stars

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