Buy Link: First Time, Forever
Author: KC Burn
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: Novella

Rating: 3.5

First Time, Forever opens up with Trevor and Derrick dropping their son Luke off at college.  Luke used to live with his mother, but after her death Trevor gained custody and Luke moved in with the two men.  Although Derrick was relatively young at the time to be raising a then 14 year old, the men had a solid relationship and were both ready and enthusiastic about being full-time parents.

Having Luke around definitely took a toll on their private life however.  The men were used to having lots of sexual freedom and having a child in the house obviously restricted some of their activities.  In addition, they had to fight Luke’s grandparents for custody and, as a result, felt the need to keep their sex lives especially low key.  Plus, both men’s work schedules are crazy and their time together somewhat limited.

Now that Luke is out of the house, Derrick and Trevor are hoping for a chance to bring back the spark from their early days together. Yet complications keep getting in the way.  Trevor finds out he has high cholesterol, injures his shoulder, and discovers some grey hairs.  At 40, he is six years older than Derrick and he worries that Derrick will no longer find him attractive.  He becomes quite insecure and afraid to share his aging anxieties with Derrick, thus avoiding some intimacy.  And Derrick keeps reaching out to Trevor only to be rebuffed due to Trevor’s insecurities, making him think Trevor no longer wants him either.  Instead of becoming closer, the guys are drifting apart and both fear that this is the end of things between them.

So this book grabbed my attention after I read the blurb because it features two guys who are empty-nesters after their son goes off to college. I liked the idea of exploring the changes that come into your life when you have kids, and how things would readjust once again when they are out of the house.  When you have a baby, your life totally changes overnight.  And when your kids are gone, in many ways it totally changes again.  As the mom of two elementary school aged girls, I can relate to the fact that relationships evolve when kids are around and I was really interested to see where the author took things with the story.  Unfortunately, I felt the book got stuck in sort of an endless loop of misunderstandings and never really took off for me.

My biggest issue was that Trevor and Derrick are constantly assuming the worst in every possible situation.  I am not a fan of the “big misunderstanding” plots, but I felt like this was death by a million little misunderstandings.  Virtually every single thing that happens is misinterpreted by the other.  Luke comes home for dinner? It must be because Trevor doesn’t want to spend time alone with Derrick.  One has to work? Must be avoiding the other.  Over and over again throughout the story. And I couldn’t understand where all this insecurity was coming from.  I totally get their lives have changed, but I had a hard time understanding why they both suddenly think the worst in in reaction to every thing that happens.

It doesn’t help that both are freaking out about all these relationship issues, yet never actually talk to one another about them.  I get that they are busy, but instead of addressing it they just feel miserable.  Which leads me to a secondary issue, which is that the guys are virtually never together throughout the book.  I didn’t really realize it until the end, but we are in the heads of one or another the whole time, and we hear their thoughts about what is going on, but we rarely see them interact directly.  Amazingly, even two of their three sex scenes occur when they are not together (one is imaginary sex).  So as a result, I felt like there was a lot of “telling” going on, and not as much seeing things develop.

Another issue I had a hard time with was accepting that their sex life had to be virtually non-existant with Luke around.  Ok, I have kids.  And yes, I have been walked in on — twice (in my defense, once we didn’t realize the lock was broken).  So I COMPLETELY get that it is hard to have a lot of spontaneity when there is a child in the house.  But come on, they can only have sex on Saturday nights when Luke is asleep? He was in high school; he is never out of the house for a few hours? Never sleeps at a friend’s house?  Again, I so get that having a kid around forces you to dial things down, but this just seemed so extreme as to be unrealistic.

Last thing, I promise.  Ok, forty is not dead.  So maybe this is a teensy bit of an issue for me as I just had my 40th birthday.  But there was so much discussion on Trevor’s part about how he is practically falling apart now that he is 40.  He is fit, relatively young, and pretty healthy.  And Derrick is only 6 years younger.  So I did feel that an awful lot is made of the age issue unnecessarily.  Trust me, 40 year olds can still have sex lives (even with kids at home).

Ok, so boy that sounds like I hated the book, doesn’t it?  Well, I really didn’t.  There was a lot about it that I enjoyed and that did work for me.  I liked the set up and I liked both Derrick and Trevor.  I thought they were interesting characters that had me rooting for them to work things out.   And I really enjoyed the ending and loved how it all got resolved (especially the very hot store sex scene).  I wish that I hadn’t had so many issues because I feel like there was a great concept in there, it just didn’t all come together for me the way that I had hoped.

P.S.  You can win all six of this week’s Carina Press m/m releases, including First Time, Forever! Just leave a comment on Larry Benjamin’s interview and giveaway post!

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