Review: First, by K.C. Wells

The Blurb:

First-kcwellsIt’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 on 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….

The Stats:

Published:   September 21, 2015
Length:        296 pages (printed) / 323 pages Kindle
Genre:         Contemporary MM Romance
Publisher:   Dreamspinner Press
POV:            3rd Person
Type:           Stand Alone
See the book on GoodReads.

The Review:

3StarIt looks like I’m in the minority here, as I’m not wholly feeling the love for this book. This was a release that I was really excited about getting my hands on. The premise of aging porn star and hot young virgin was riiiight up my alley. Being set in Georgia was a bonus for this reader.

I’ve only read a few other K.C. Wells books and rated them with strong I-LIKED-them-3-stars. I like K.C.’s stories and have every intention of reading more of her work.

Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t exactly live up to the hype. This book is getting 3 stars from me…but it’s more in the 2.5 to 3.0 range.

For the first twenty percent or so I grew more and more annoyed with every single character’s dialogue written in, what came across as, a back-country/hick/redneck southern dialect.

Look, I’m a southern girl. Half of my roots have a firm grip into the depths of the compacted red clay of Georgia, the other half in the sandy loam of the coastal plains of Virginia. I spent every summer of my childhood on my uncle’s farm in Georgia eating peaches I’d picked directly from the trees in his orchard, snapping beans on the back porch with my aunts, and wearing my arms out churning ice-cream with my cousins while alternately chasing fireflies. I went to college in Georgia; I started my career in Georgia and called Georgia home for over twenty years. During my college years, I went home with different friends on weekends to various towns all over the state. During the early days of my career, I traveled the entire state far and wide—as well as other states in the Southeast. During my years as a resident, I called six different cities “home” from south to north Georgia, including time in Athens and Atlanta.

I share all of that to state some indisputable credentials of Southern, and more specifically Georgia, heritage including parts mentioned within this book. In fact, I’ve spent time in every city and town mentioned in the book including Americus, Eatonton, and Social Circle.

I get a bit twitchy when authors write in heavy Southern dialect. It turns to aggravation and a bit of ire when it reads as though every single character is being portrayed with the same rural dialect, same pronunciations, and same bad grammar habits that are more representative of the stereotype of a back-country redneck than the nuanced gliding vowels, lilts and inflections, and the occasional addition of syllables that are inherently southern. Not every southerner drops their g’s. Not every southerner ends his or her sentences with a preposition. Not every southerner creates contractions where they shouldn’t or misuses them entirely as in “don’t” for “didn’t,” or “seen” for “saw.”

The fact that the majority of this story took place in Atlanta and the metro area and every character with a speaking part spoke in the same stereotypical ‘southern’ dialect was an absolute wrong characterization of the region. Atlanta is, in fact, a region of the south with no discernible dialect whatsoever. This is due to this region being a hub of international business and commerce and therefore the population is more of a melting pot of residents from all over the world. To find a native Atlantan in Atlanta is a rarity. To have every single character here speaking in the same dialect is quite simply a gross misrepresentation of the region.

Cringe worthy words and phrases:
afore, ‘ceptin, mightn’t, g’on, y’hear, outta, picturin’, meetin’, bein’, watchin’, schoolin’, ‘cause that there, I’ve not, ain’t, a right lot, rustle, rightly, “don’t” instead of doesn’t, “seen” instead of saw…… goes ON and ON and ON.

I think it’s likely Ben’s mother would have been shunned at the country club and upper echelons of Atlanta society for her horrific abuse of the English language. (“What you boys planning…” just being one shining example among many.)

These examples, and more that I’m too lazy to list, nearly had my blood boiling by the twenty percent mark. I had to take a break—a long one—in an effort to put my aggravations to rest and attempt to enjoy the story. I had to tell myself to get over it, move on, and to let it go.

I looked up the author’s profile on GoodReads and her website. K.C. is from England. I don’t know where she lives now. I don’t know if she’s spent any actual time in the southeastern part of the US. So, I don’t know if these are her first hand experiences and observations or assumptions made by misrepresentations in media.

Regardless…it was too much and nauseatingly inaccurate. It would have been a far more realistic portrayal had some of these characters not had their parts written in any dialect, but maybe judiciously used words, phrasing, and some endearments that are more typically southern. We do love our similes and metaphors along with our biscuits and sweet tea.

I’m of the opinion that when an author sets their story in a specific region known for specific dialects, ways of speech, and tenets of belief they do more good when they remove the spotlight from those stereotypes (or obliterate them altogether) rather than feeding and compounding them to the point of alienating and offending the very people being represented.

There were a few other minor regional mistakes I caught that I may as well mention while I’m on my high-falootin’ soapbox.

New Years Eve – this part of the book took place in a sports bar in Atlanta. Firstly, most sports bars have quite a few televisions mounted on the walls. Secondly, in Atlanta there’s a huge New Year’s celebration downtown where folks gather to watch the PEACH drop. Now, it doesn’t rival Times Square in the Big Apple…but it’s a big event nevertheless. Lots of people staying home for New Years might switch channels back and forth between the two events to see the peach drop, then to see the revelry in Times Square. A sports bar would most likely have both events tuned in on their multiple televisions so patrons could see both events simultaneously.

“Hotlanta” – no…just no. I’d like to think this was a joke. You would never, ever, ever catch a resident actually saying this word except to expound their derision.

Fire in the Fireplace in Americus during Winter – I’m not going to say this doesn’t happen. I’m certain it does. The temperatures can drop and can get to freezing, sometimes there’s even snow that’ll stick for a day or two. Plus, a fire in the fireplace is cozy. But, I’ll just say that for every fire I’ve ever had or witnessed south of Macon in the winter, there was usually a window or door open to let out some of the heat. Average winter temperatures generally fluctuate in the 50’s which is more often ‘light jacket’ weather.

All right, I’m nitpicking. I’m aware of this. Moving on….but probably still nitpicking.

There were parts where I just…got bored. The chapter plus some dedicated to Tommy’s wardrobe and shopping comes to mind. This might be because I freaking HATE to shop with a red-blooded passion. But it draaaaaaaged.

There were some paragraphs with so many names mentioned—from Mike’s co-workers at the bar or porn-buddies—that I became bewildered. Just…too many inconsequential people crammed together to feel the need to keep up with at one time.

There were two distinct points I put the book down thinking it would be a DNF. I took those breaks—but I couldn’t fully let go. I read some of the five star reviews and then decided to give it another go in an attempt to see this book through the eyes of my fellow readers who had nothing but wonderful things to say.

Finally….FINALLY…the book took hold to the point that I was rooting for Mike and Tommy and I became invested in the story.

However, I started losing it again when it got into some of the politics and backstabbing within the porn industry. Maybe some of that was based on real-life events and various realities. I think some of it was definitely worth the exposure. But I’m not sure all of it served the purpose of strengthening the main plot.

I’ve gone on long enough and my negativity is not conducive to enjoying a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. I need to dive into another book and enjoy my porch before it gets too cold.

I’ll end with these thoughts. I’m glad I read the book. I loved the premise. I love this author.

And the cover? Beautiful. Delicious. I wanted to lick it.


Tell me what you think!