48 Guilty Read 001

First Love by Tiya Rayne – 4/22/2018

Zora Henderson and Luke Trent were high school sweethearts, star-crossed in all the ways that make young lovers forsake all for each other.   They live in Richland South Carolina, a racially polarized town that is personally offended that the two 17-year-olds want to be together.     Zora and Luke put-a-cracker-on1 their relationship by getting pregnant.    She is the youngest daughter of a prestigious Southern Black Family and he is the son of a White drunk factory worker.   Who would be opposed to something like that?  Zora’s whole damn family of course.  Zora feels she would be imposing on Luke’s future livelihood, he was offered an athletic scholarship. She dumps him, by telling him she wasn’t having his baby.  She adds to it by claiming he isn’t shit and won’t be shit, Ever!  Then she fakes an abortion and runs away to the City of Chicago with her gay cousin Sean.

Eight years later, Zora returned to Richland, after hearing her father was in the hospital. She had cut herself off from her family, to raise her child.  Zora reveals that now she has a 7-year old daughter Peyton.   The family accepts the child with open arms more than they accept Zora.

Luke return to Richland to hide from the media and to check up on his sister and two sons.  The only relatives he likes.  Zora and Luke meet each other at some random spot in the town.  Zora decides to keep Peyton a secret. She believes it is better for the everyone since Luke is engaged.  However, they are attracted to each other like addicts. Their good intentions to be “just friends” goes to hell with gasoline draws.  Zora’s secret is thwarted by fate, father and daughter meet each other and develop an instant rapport.

The past is dredged up for Luke and Zora, in several WTF ways proving if you plan to go home again, walk with a stick.    Luke’s reputation is sullied and of course, Zora’s is dragged through the mud and crapped on.  Peace is made with the families Luke’s, as well as Zora’s and all the secret things, are made known.  Can you guess the biggest reveal?

After going through media windmill Zora and Luke settle down for their HEA, with Peyton of course and new babies on the way.

Why did I write this synopsis?  I have been trying to tell myself that I didn’t care about this book.  But it is one of the few books I have taken time to read from page 1 to the end.   Why is it important?  It has been a while since I read a book and this book was read on my Kindle unlimited for “free”.   Many of my reviews are listened to and read along with.  First love is significant because I don’t know if it audio or not.    The Romance genre, in general, is not viewed well despite the sales and blockbuster money it makes.   I never planned to review a romance novel on the Jo-Ex.  However, I decided a while ago to review everything I like this will include any book of any genre that I take an interest in, film, music, TV, animations, and anime (it may not seem like a difference but there is).   This brings me back to First love.  Did I like this book?  Honestly, I come up blank when thinking about it.   I don’t exactly have a grading system.    So, I went to the pros vs. contras route.  The cons outweigh the pros and that might be why I like this book?   It is quite the epiphany to realize that I like this book because it is bad.
Cover-my-face-in- shame emoji here2.

Reader if you are the type that doesn’t think too deeply about your romance novels, and your reading skills developed in the height of the “Young Adult” book craze.  Then this book is exactly what you want, and it will be fine.   If you are like a writer like me, the fifth flashback will have you through the book across the room.   This book was saved as an ebook on the Kindle app of my precious cellphone.   The book had me reading just to see how this writer chose to weave this story to a plausible end.   It was Harlequin worthy.

I am going to briefly discuss two pros and three cons because I did say the contras outweighed the pros.     Pro – It was a BWWM book, however, I prefer calling the subgenre IR; BWWM is just too specific a label that I don’t like it.  I am an equal opportunity romance reader at least I try to be.  Con- First-person Point of View times 2.  This is a personal peeve of mine.  POV’s Zora and Luke’s.  Which made it even-steven on the romance scale.   But seemed to slow down the story in many ways.

Pro – Reunion romance.  It is a fave sub-genre for me since I saw Persuasion by Jane Austen on Masterpiece Theater.  I am a sucker for broken sweethearts becoming lovers again.

Con-  the unofficial prologue, followed by the many flashbacks.   The story would have worked with one or the other.  They didn’t need both.  Think about the structure of this story, two people explaining how they became lovers again.  They constantly stop to remember the first time they had sex and possibly the time they got pregnant.   It was already established in the unofficial prologue.  This author perpetuated the most heinous crime for a writer redundancy.

Con- This story included racism, bullying, attempted rape, assault, verbal and emotional abuse.  I don’t think these issues were dealt with effectively.  The main female character was isolated, abused and her family was oblivious to it all.   She was her daddy’s favorite and she couldn’t tell him that she was assaulted by someone they knew.  In fact, she told no one in her family and no one of them suspected either.

I stated earlier that if a reader is a fan of young adult novels, you may not find the pace or believability of the story to be off.   Tiya Rayne is a pen name for the author who writes YA under her real name.   This adult romance reads like a YA book.  Not sure if that was the author’s intention.  My recommendation is to read this book if you can get it from the library or on your Kindle Unlimited.



  1. Put-a-cracker-on it means if you think this situation is bad, a cracker can’t make it worse.
  2. There is the picture for this emoji.

About J.C. Henry

I am a writer and Podcaster. Most of my stories are in the speculative fiction genre. The Red Mushroom Podcast is about writing and the writing business, is currently in development.
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