Title: Jump First
Author: Charles Edward
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Buy Link
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance
Length: Novella (102 PDF pages/~27k words)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: A sweet YA tale set in the backdrop of a writer’s group and m/m romance.
For Heath, the star highlight of every week is attending his writers’ group meeting. The leader, Marguerite May, writes romance novels, and not just any kind: The dude/dude kind that are so freakin hot, Heath gets embarrassed to critique them. But don’t tell anybody: He secretly adores her books and buys them all. With a fake ID.
Marguerite’s son, Ryan, just happens to be the most beautiful guy in the universe. Confident, athletic, and with such a cool mom, Ryan’s got everything a high school senior could want—which is everything Heath lacks. Too bad Ryan is straight. But thanks to a flaky computer and an unexpected request, Heath will get to know his idols better, and he’ll discover that nothing he believes about them is true.
High school senior Heath is an aspiring author and has spent the last two years as the youngest member of a weekly writing critique group held at the home of his favorite m/m romance author, Marguerite May. Closeted as both gay and a romance reader, he’s a serious fanboi, but has never let on, and buys her stuff online under a fake name. Marguerite also happens to be the mother of Heath’s classmate and crush, Ryan, in front of whom he routinely acts like a doofus and clams up. He is really surprised when Ryan asks him to help him with his own novel, and the two begin to spend time together on the project. Things take a turn, however, when Ryan — whom Heath thought was straight — makes pleasantly surprising overtures. But that isn’t the only surprise, as Heath learns there is more than meets the eye about everyone in that house.
Jump First is the first published story by Charles Edward and a well-written, sweet little YA romantic tale. Narrated in first person by Heath, I really liked his voice. I was sucked in immediately and Heath kept me there. I think the author did a very good job in getting the teen mind onto paper without either aging up or down our two likeable protags, which I think is a difficult task. I found myself thinking back and found myself nodding in some places at the awkwardness and insecurities of the two teens, though I admit that I never had sex guides in the form of romances (and no, 80s bodice-rippers taught me nothing helpful) nor the Internet at my fingertips for ideas. It’s also very humorous — I laughed out loud quite a few times — with just the right touch of angst without being overwhelming.
The smexxin is smokin’, and while I at first worried a bit about the advanced nature of the acts (such as a dash of BDSM) compared to the age of our heroes, I realized that these boys, while inexperienced, have been reading m/m fiction for a while, looking for a chance to try it out:
…the sex would make me squirm in good ways and teach me stuff I’d want to try on somebody, someday—please, God…
The cast of characters isn’t huge — three other writers in the critique group plus Marguerite, the host — but it’s this last that has the most screentime outside of our heroes. She is practically irredeemable, between her obvious distain of her fellow authors, to her overall attitude, to her reaction to learning about Heath and Ryan. She is unlikeable, unsympathetic, condescending, bigoted and spiteful. Even though we are told she was showing some sign of progress toward the end, I never warmed up to her. Though I wanted to strangle her, it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the story, and I can see why she was added for a bit of…bitterness to an otherwise very sweet story.
Lastly, I have a feeling that the authors among us readers will appreciate and find even more humor in this book that non-authors perhaps would not.
If you’re in the mood for a relatively light, funny, sweet YA romance, I’d recommend picking this one up.