Title: First Impressions
Author: Jay Hogan
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 320 Pages
At a Glance: First Impressions was aptly named, both from my reading experience and for Josh and Michael. Despite a rocky start for me, I stuck with it and am glad I did since I ended up quite liking this romance with a side of drama and suspense.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Two years ago, I made a mistake, a big one, and then I threw in another couple just for good measure. I screwed up my life big time, but I made it through. I was lucky.
Then I was given the opportunity for a fresh start. Two years in Auckland, NZ, ‘The City of Sails’. Away from the LA gossip, a chance to breathe, to get my life back together.
I grabbed it and packed my new set of golden rules with me.
I don’t do relationships.
I don’t do commitment.
I don’t do white picket fences.
And I especially don’t do arrogant, holier-than-thou, smoking hot K9 officers who walk into my ER and rock my world.
The only thing I know for certain about Dr. Michael Oliver is the guy is an arrogant, untrustworthy player, and I’d barely survived the last one of those in my life. Once was more than enough.
The man might be gorgeous, but my eleven-year-old daughter takes number one priority and I won’t risk her being hurt, again. I’m a solo dad, a K9 cop and a son to pain in the ass, bigoted parents.
I don’t have time for games.
I don’t have time for taking chances.
I don’t have time for more complications in my life.
And I sure as hell don’t have time for the infuriating Dr. Michael Oliver, however damn sexy he is.
Review: First Impressions is a great name for this story. I started this book and immediately took a dislike to Michael. It wasn’t that he was a hit-it-and-quit-it type—he was a single man and if that is what floats his boat, more power—it was the entire situation and lack of caring for the damage he may or may not be causing. He came off as selfish and shallow. That was my first impression, and I wasn’t sure if this book was going to be for me.
I am glad I stuck with it, though. Just like its title suggests, first impressions can be deceiving. As the story progressed, I got more insight into Michael, his behaviors, and the dark place he was crawling out of, and eventually found myself invested in him and Josh working out as a couple. People aren’t perfect, and don’t always make the best decisions. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means they are human. Michael is a prime example of this. He was struggling and making poor choices while trying to find his equilibrium, but reading his POV, it was clear he was a very caring individual. He just presented as snarky and jaded, initially.
I empathized with Josh much more. Struggling after a messy break up that affected his daughter, he doesn’t want to put her (or himself) in that situation again. He sees Michael and it’s the same bad impression I had. Attraction may have been present, but he was vehemently opposed to acting on that attraction, in fear of making another mistake. His experience and protection of his daughter cause him to make some iffy choices, but they were understandable.
Their original meeting was the foundation for the mystery that is interspersed through the story, creating a bit of suspense to keep things interesting. It doesn’t overwhelm the story and at times is nearly forgotten as life continues, but it’s there, unresolved in the background and waiting to come back. I just wasn’t sure when or how it would happen.
The two men do not start off on the right foot at all. Their mostly enemy-like interaction begins with Josh’s distaste for Michael’s way of living, while at the same time he’s angry at himself for finding the man attractive. He comes off as quite the bit of a jerk to Michael in his attempt to fight his own body’s responses to the man, and Michael gives back as good as he gets. They keep getting put into each other’s orbit thanks to Michael’s role as a witness to a crime.
As the two dance around each other and finally give in to the attraction, I started seeing a different side of Michael and Josh, and their reasons for holding back. Neither were interested in a relationship with each other, but they also couldn’t deny the mutual attraction and chemistry. What better way to get over it than to agree to a no-strings-attached situation and then walk away when they got each other out of their system? The problem is, as they spend more time with each other, they begin to see first impressions are deceiving and actually—gasp!—like each other. The evolution from enemies to friends with benefits and, eventually, falling for one another was delightful, and I truly enjoyed seeing it unfold as they both struggled to hide their strengthening feelings, each for their own personal reasons.
The secondary characters were developed enough that I am definitely interested in seeing what happens to them, especially Mark and Cam—Mark, Josh’s sounding board and best friend, calls him on his crap, not allowing him to deny his feelings; Cam and his feisty interactions, not letting Michael get away with anything. The other characters added both drama and realism to the plot.
As a debut novel, First Impressions is pretty well executed. The pacing is well done and areas that didn’t need to be rehashed, weren’t. There are times the book jumps weeks and months, but the way it was delivered worked toward the overall advancement of the plot. There were some pretty steamy scenes as the two gave in to their lust, and even scenes where it was clear the lust had changed to other feelings, enough that if you are a fan of sexy times, you will be pleased. They don’t overwhelm the story’s main focus, though, and serve the purpose of showing the progression of the relationship. All pluses in my book.
I had some personal niggles, but they didn’t reach a level that ruined the entire story or would keep me picking up another of Jay Hogan’s books. When the suspense portion was wrapping up, it was mostly through Josh’s viewpoint, and I never really got to experience what I felt was an equally important perspective from Michael’s eyes. The result was getting a “told not shown” feeling afterwards. Because of this, the climax left me feeling underwhelmed. Adding Michael’s perspective would have really helped me in that area. Also, the next issue I have isn’t really even one that bugged me too much, but seeing as I know many readers for whom this is a huge pet peeve and may draw them out of the story, I feel compelled to point it out—Michael is an American, and some of the words he used didn’t really mesh. I saw it, but it’s usually not something I’m irritated by. It’s tough capturing the specific nuances of language and speaking patterns for characters outside of the author’s own location. Heck, even specific states or regions within a country can be distinctly different, and even for a seasoned author it can be challenging, so I try not to be too hard on that specific issue.
Also, there were plot discrepancies and little things that stood out to me in my review copy, but I am not putting this in with the issues above, as I was given an advanced review copy. It is my understanding that inconsistencies had already been identified and corrected prior to publishing. They may not even be present now, so it could be a moot point. But, even with the irregularities, most of them minor, they may not even stand out.
In the end, First Impressions was aptly named, both from my reading experience and for Josh and Michael. Despite the rocky start, I ended up enjoying this romance with a side of drama and suspense.
You can buy First Impressions here:
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