Author: K.C. Wells
Narrator: Gregory Salinas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 10 hours and 59 minutes
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: A wonderful slow-burn romance that gives the listener an opportunity sit and stay a while with the characters.
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: It’s taken Tommy Newsome a while to get his head around being gay.
Growing up in a small town in Georgia hasn’t prepared him for the more liberal life of a student at the university in Athens. Add to that the teachings of his parents and his church, and you have one shy young man who feels out of his depth. Working on his daddy’s farm hasn’t given him any chance of a social life, certainly not one like the clubs of Atlanta have to offer. Not that Tommy feels comfortable when he gets to sample it – Momma’s lectures still ring loudly inside his head.
All that changes when he goes to his first gay bar and sets eyes on Mike Scott.
When Mike’s not behind the bar at Woofs, he’s busy with his life as adult entertainer Scott Masters. Twenty years in the industry and the times, they are a-changing. Mike’s not had much luck in the relationship department, but as his mom is fond of telling him, you keep fishing in the same pond, you’re gonna reel in the same kind of fish. Maybe it’s time for a change.
And then a beautiful young man asks Mike to be his first….
Review: Lately, I’ve been kind of stuck looking for a good listen, pinging back and forth through some of my old tried and true favorites, listening to a bunch of short stories, and paging through new releases online, waiting for something to jump out and grab me. All of which was fine, but I was getting desperate for something I hadn’t read before, something that I couldn’t run through in a day, something with characters I really cared about. And then came First. *Happy Sigh*
First off, LOOK AT THAT RUN TIME. Thank you, eleven hours. I love this genre, but it doesn’t always lend itself to audio books over ten hours. So I was pumped to see this one clock in at eleven, and hopeful that the story and the characters had the legs to handle a run that long (Review Spoiler: They do).
Lucky me (and you, too!), the characters are basically all likable, because we spend a LOT of time with them. This book really is all about the characters—their head space, their concerns, their relationship. Tommy is young and a little naive, but not a caricature of some starry-eyed twink. Mike is older, stuck in a rut that he’s a bit blind to when the story starts, but not bitter or jaded. He’s a genuine, happy kind of guy, which was a nice change given the adult entertainment angle. The secondary characters run the spectrum from villainous to hilarious to genuine and kind, and are mostly a lovely backdrop to the main relationship.
And that relationship! Whew! The blurb is just the beginning of what the book is about. First follows Tommy and Mike’s entire relationship arc, beginning to bumps to fruition, and it is immensely satisfying. It rocks my very favorite set up, the slow burn. And man, dat BURN tho. Once they catch, the fire is hot. (IfyaknowwhatImean*WINKWINK*)
The only real issue I had with the story was Tommy’s family. I felt like, as a whole, they hit every single negative conservative stereotype like they were getting checked off a list. Where the other characters, even secondary, felt well-rounded and real, Tommy’s family felt like cut-out villains. And I understand that they and their actions push forward a major advancement in the plot, but I was a bit uncomfortable with their one-dimensionality. Fortunately, the problematic bit isn’t too long, and it isn’t the main conflict. So once things moved on, it was really easy for me to get back into the book.
The major conflict of the book is handled really well. There are no needlessly drawn out dramatics in an attempt to generate tension, and character-wise, there are no childish or melodramatic fight scenes. Through everything, Tommy and Mike are genuine and they try to stay kind. Their willingness to empathize, and honest attempts to explain their own perspectives, are more effective than any knock down-drag outs because it impresses on the reader what is at stake. The relationship and the men in it are GOOD, and if they can’t find common ground to save the relationship, that would make the break up all the more tragic.
Narration-wise, Gregory Salinas does a good job. He occasionally slays you with enunciation (those consonants will CUT you in the intro before the book), but that happens less as the audio progresses. He emotes well and colors the different character voices to help differentiate between speakers. His character voices aren’t the most varied I’ve heard, but they were well done. Overall, he’s easy to listen to and a pleasant narrator, and it wasn’t a hardship to spend eleven hours with him talking in my ear.
If you’re more in the mood for fireworks and drama, fast pacing, twists and turns, this book isn’t going to scratch that itch for you. For me, First is right in my character-loving sweet spot and suited my slowed down, autumn kind of mood. It’s a long, slow burn of a relationship with tons of time spent with the characters, spinning out their relationship and setting the foundation for their future. You arrive at the destination, but the journey is the thing with this book. I was thrilled to add it to my audio library, and I know I will be re-listening to it in the near future.
You can buy First here: