Throwback Thursday Audiobook Review: First by K.C. Wells

first audioStory Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars

Narrator: Gregory Salinas
Length: 10 hours, 59 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks


College student Tommy Newsome grew up in a small town with a religious family. Now that he is in college, Tommy is finally ready to act on being gay, but he doesn’t really know where to start. Tommy definitely isn’t into random hook ups or the club scene, but he does manage to dip his toes in the water by going to a gay sports bar. There he meets bartender Mike Scott, a gorgeous older man who has all of Tommy’s attention. He can’t help but return to the bar each weekend for a chance to just spend time around Mike, even though they never do more than talk.

throwback thursdayMike definitely notices the sexy, shy college student, but he is about 20 years Tommy’s senior, so he keeps his distance. But when Tommy works up the nerve to ask Mike to be his first, Mike can’t help but agree. He figures if nothing else, he can help give Tommy a great first time. But to Mike’s surprise, he isn’t ready for things to end between them when the night is over. The men continue to see one another, beginning to build a relationship.

However, Mike is hiding something important from Tommy — he is not just a bartender, but also famous porn star, Scott Masters. Mike is basically a legend in the industry, but Tommy has no idea who he is and Mike knows that Tommy will have a hard time accepting it once he finds out. Mike is determined to tell Tommy the truth, he just wants to wait until things between them are more solid. He has lost too many men to his career once they find out the truth. Things are going great between Tommy and Mike, and they are falling in love with one another. But Mike’s big secret may destroy things between them.

This story appealed to me from the start with the age difference and the virgin hero (both my catnip). I liked the way we see Tommy grow throughout the book from a guy who is very shy and uncertain, to one who is more confident and able to act on what he wants. While Tommy does come into his own, his upbringing was very conservative and that side of him doesn’t really change. I appreciated that he doesn’t suddenly have a complete personality change and turn into this wild guy, but instead retains many of his same values, just becomes more open with his sexuality. The intimate scenes with Mike are really well done. We can see Tommy growing more confident and more comfortable asking for what he wants. It happens slowly throughout the book and he is a nicely developed character.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t always love Mike. It was attitude, but I can’t quite put my finger on what. Patronizing isn’t quite it, but at times I felt like he was treating Tommy a little too childishly. I listened to it in audio, so it also may have been how Mike was portrayed and it may have come across differently in book form. But I did like these guys as a couple and think they worked well together. I had to wonder at Mike thinking he could keep being a porn star a secret from Tommy for so long. I mean, he is supposed to be super famous and Tommy is a college student. Even if Tommy doesn’t watch porn himself, his friends must. And if Mike is that recognizable, it never occurs to him someone will see him with Tommy and mention it in front of him? It seemed a little naive to me.

Overall I really enjoyed the story, but I did have a few small issues. First off, we are mostly in alternating POV with Mike and Tommy, but then at one point we get the POV of one of Mike’s coworkers, which seemed jarring and odd because he is just a side character. I was also bugged by the attitude from some of the characters toward Danny, a stylist they know. He is pretty flamboyant and they are not super tolerant of him. I also think some of the scenes of Mike on porn shoots went on too long. We get lots of detail on the set and what life is like as a porn star. So I appreciated that Wells seemed knowledgable about the industry and what Mike’s experiences would be like. But at the same time, I felt so much focus took away from Mike and Tommy together and began to drag at points.

I listened to this one in audio and for the most part think it was well done. Gregory Salinas really over enunciates his words to the point that it often came across a little slow and awkward, especially at the beginning. I also couldn’t help but be drawn out of the story at bit at Tommy’s accent, as he didn’t have one almost at all early on, and then it sort of comes and goes. He comes from a small southern town, and speaks with a southern dialect, yet most of the time he has no accent. At least he has some, though, while virtually none of other characters do at all, which is strange for a story set in Atlanta and other parts of Georgia. But in general, I found this one pleasant to listen to, especially as I got into the story. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a solid enough audio that I can feel comfortable recommending it to you guys if you like this format.

So overall I thought this was an enjoyable story and a good audio. I haven’t read much by K.C. Wells and she does a nice job here. I enjoyed Tommy in particular and seeing his growth over the course of the book.

P.S. Ok, this is a personal thing, but the cover model is porn star Dirk Caber. I think he actually is a great choice in terms of appearance, because he really captures Mike well (or maybe Mike was modeled on Dirk, not sure). But having met Dirk in real life, and even being lucky enough to share a meal with him, it meant that I couldn’t help but imagine him as Mike throughout the book. Even folks who don’t know Dirk in person, but are familiar with his work, may find this to be an distraction for them. So great cover, and I love the way the he fits with the character, but it’s a side hazard of using famous people on your covers.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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