Adam is at the Oscars party because his stepbrother, Chad, is sure he just needs to get out in public to overcome his anxiety. His therapist would disagree with that, but Adam can never seem to convince Chad, whose go to position is always bully first, talk second. Then to top it off, Truman James, that evening’s Oscar winner, is trying to get Adam to follow him to the men’s room for what can only be a blowjob for his benefit. Thank goodness for the bartender, Jay, who helps Adam escape. He’s a nothing, a nobody, and there is no way that the Truman James will remember the guy who had the audacity to say no.
Truman is furious—no one says no to an A-list actor of his status, no one. So how dare the quiet little twink do so? He is nothing…still, why can’t Truman get the guy out of his mind? Maybe if he gives him another chance—surely he can convince some nobody into his bed, a place where most, if not all, would die to be. Truman will track the guy down, woo him, so to speak, and once he has his way, then drop him. That’s the plan; too bad it doesn’t work out like that.
Este Holland’s new release, First Priority, pairs up a pompous actor with an introverted novelist/gamer and creates a sweet romance. Adam suffers from anxiety—panic inducing, crushing anxiety for which he is currently undergoing therapy. He would have never willingly been bunking in with his stepbrother, Chad, except for the fact that his own apartment is undergoing cleaning for a mold infestation. Chad has always bullied Adam—both physically and mentally–but their shared father has always believed Chad over Adam. So when his dad suggests Adam stay with Chad, Adam couldn’t say no. Hence, he finds himself being dragged around to parties where big time actors are so Chad can find his fifteen minutes of fame. Then, Truman James imperiously tries to seduce him and Adam is just done—escaping into the night with the help of the bartender who will become a friend, something Adam has few of at the moment.
For Truman, Adam’s refusal and subsequent lack of awe at his star status is both frustrating and refreshing. There is something about Adam that captivates Truman, primarily because for the first time, someone other than Truman’s best friend, Daniel, sees the real him. Adam can see through the suave façade Truman uses in his public life to the real man beneath, something that thrills Truman and pushes him to take his time with Adam, to want to protect him and take care of him. When the paparazzi get wind of their dating, Truman whisks Adam off to his private island in Ireland and it’s there that the two men begin to realize their emotions run deeper than they had previously imagined.
On the surface, this story seems to make sense. It seems to be another fairy tale romance between someone important and a nobody, but unfortunately, it is a novel that is rife with some inconsistencies that keep the story from being great. For instance, while I understand this is the first in an upcoming series, there is this side story surrounding a shadow of an ex who happens to be a convict hanging around Jay, the bartender. Jay is obviously threatened at one point by the guy, yet the story never really answers why, but instead has him just fine in the end. What exactly happened when Jay ran from the guy?
Then there is this friction between Riley, Truman’s personal secretary, and Truman’s best friend, Daniel. It’s obvious there is some sort of past hinted at here, but again, it’s left to dangle, so I assume it can be the fodder for the next novel in the series. Top all this off with the fast growing attraction between Adam and Truman and a plot thread about a potential stalker who suddenly appears toward the end of the book and you have a real jumble of a story overall. There is just a little too much going on here and, again, even though I am sure most of it is due to setting up future installments for the series, it was a bit too much to unpack for a first novel.
I wish the author had chosen to focus on just one or two of these storylines instead of dropping tidbits of so many. First Priority has all the makings for a sweet romance, but gets bogged down in a glut of dangling plot points on which one can only assume the author is going to build subsequent stories. Este Holland is a good author, a capable and entertaining storyteller, so I think it’s safe to say that while this one may not have knocked it out of the park for me, future novels will be well worth the wait.