Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Publisher:   Berkley  
Published:  March 7, 2017
ISBN:        978-0425283158
Genre:       Contemporary Romance
Format:     Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Sarah Martin has long been considered a piece of San Diego royalty due to her father’s money and position. While she’s enjoyed some of the amenities his money can buy, she mostly wants to be her own woman leading her own life. And part of that life is living on her own, being free to be with the man she loves. Thing is, five years ago, actions she took believing in a cause, sent that man from her life. What she didn’t know then was the role her father played in the outcome of that time in her life. What her father doesn’t know, is she never really got over that one special guy. Even Sarah didn’t realize how much she still cared for him until she saw him taken prisoner on live TV while filming in Syria and have his life threatened. When he returns home, seeing him at her job—at News 9—is the last place she expects to find him, but there he is.

Five years ago Troy Young thought life dealt him a nasty blow when he lost the girl he loved due to his own lies and deceit. He justified his actions at the time because it was for what he felt was a good cause and ultimately it led him to his dream job – an onsite reporter going into the world’s most dangerous places. He never thought he’d be taken prisoner by a gang of jihadists and have his life threatened. Freed after three months he now has to live with some people calling him a hero and some vilifying him for surviving his ordeal. He’s grateful for a job as a reporter for News 9 when he returns…until he has a meltdown during a live shot. He knew he had some emotional issues when he returned, what he didn’t realize was how devastating the effects of PTSD would be on his everyday life. His boss, Richard, having been there himself, does understand and in an effort to help Troy keep a job he needs assigns him to the entertainment desk. At first Troy is angry—an element of the PTSD—he’s a reporter, not an entertainment type guy. Not only is he so not into the latest Hollywood gossip…the girl he never forgot happens to be his new partner.

Can they put aside the issues that drove them apart five years before and find their way back to each other? Even more important, will the events that brought them back together, ultimately tear them apart?

I enjoyed the first two books in Mari Madison’s Exclusive series, Break of Day and Just This Night – they definitely made me a fan.  In her latest, AT FIRST LIGHT, she totally and completely surpassed herself.  What a fantastic, truly heart wrenching and emotional story told with such compassion and understanding.

In AT FIRST LIGHT, Madison delves into the emotional devastation not only the person living with Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) experiences, but what happens to the people around them including friends and friends of friends. She deals with the experience head on, taking you into the heart and mind of the person living with it.  How a simple, every day event, like a smoke alarm going off, can bring to the surface all the horror of the original experience. Troy’s sense of survivor guilt is palpable and heart wrenching. How Sarah handles his experience is well done.

Madison doesn’t just take on PTSD in AT FIRST LIGHT. She goes deeper telling the story of an earlier love and betrayal and how that colors their current relationship along with the layers of Troy surviving his war-time experience. The author takes the reader into the character’s everyday lives and how they change through each experience, especially when it is entwined with the characters’ past.

There are light-hearted moments in the story – and I’d love to spend some time at the little hotel in Rosarita on the beach.  Madison doesn’t go much into detail about San Diego in general – which the city does make for a terrific back drop, but it isn’t needed because of the solid story telling.  I’m not usually one for first person and in her Exclusive series she does tell the stories not only in first person, but from each of the main character’s point of view—in this one some chapters were told by Troy and others by Sarah. Madison makes it work and work well.  I’m not sure guys ruminate about things as deeply as Troy did, but the thought process he went through made for a good read.

Rather than this turning into a depressing read it just got better and better. There is hope, understanding, a wonderful romance and an overall super story.  This is definitely one book to put at the top of your list.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.



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