THE FIRST WORD by Isley Robson


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An emotional romance blossoms between a single father and the occupational therapist who cares for his special needs child.

When alternative energy magnate Rhys Griffiths invites occupational therapist Andie Tilley to serve as live-in support for his toddler, Will, he has no idea what an effect her presence will have on both of their lives. With the exception of Andie’s name—his first word—Will is nonverbal and highly sensitive, often spinning into inconsolable fits. Initially denying his son’s autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, Rhys has become laser focused on finding ways to soothe Will and improve his social communication skills. At first he and Andie bond over their shared goals for Will, but they quickly develop an intense mutual sexual attraction. Recently divorced after a brief, tumultuous marriage to Will’s mother, Rhys himself is a sensory seeker who has trouble reading social cues. Still, he knows early on that Andie is special. Andie, who survived an abusive childhood and carries guilt over the death of a younger sibling, is sure the affair will "run its course," a comment Rhys ruefully compares to “picking detritus from the kitchen drain and holding it between gloved fingers.” Robson’s debut offers a very skillful depiction of parenting and working with a toddler with autism. Although the plot is reminiscent of an earlier era of boss-nanny romances, Robson depicts Andie as a competent, self-respecting professional woman with legitimate needs for intimacy and love. Rhys’ insecurities and awkwardness similarly humanize a “millionaire Ph.D. with the Elvis charisma, who has to beat women off with a stick every time he steps out in public.” Robson raises the stakes—unnecessarily—with the reappearance of Rhys’ increasingly unstable ex, who will stop at nothing to get her family back.

Lovely writing and a sweet romance make for a promising debut.

Pub Date: April 25th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5039-4367-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2017


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