Step By Step, by K.C. Wells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 13, 2017
Rating: Did Not Finish (DNF) at 61%
Jamie’s life is one big financial mess, and it really isn’t his fault. However, the last thing he expected to find in the library was a Good Samaritan. He might have been suspicious of Guy’s motives at first, but it soon becomes apparent that his savior is a good man who has been lucky in life and is looking to pay it forward. Guy being gay is not a problem. Jamie’s not interested… or so he thinks.
Guy is happy to help Jamie, and the two men get along fine. But when Jamie’s curiosity leads him from one thing to another, Guy finds himself looking at the young man with new eyes. What started out as a hand up is now something completely different….
Pay It Forward
Friends to Lovers
Exploring Sexual Identity
Gay For You
Warnings for Bi-Erasure and Biphobia
*I skipped ahead to confirm that Jamie ultimately identified as gay
From the start, Step By Step was a super problematic read for me and I’ll explain why –step by step:
1. Jamie felt grateful that he “dodged that bullet” in regards to not being gay. This was when he still considered himself straight and the idea that he might be interested in men hadn’t yet occurred to him. Mostly because of his age and inexperience, I’ll happily give him a pass for not having any sexual self-awareness, but I still found that comment careless and insensitive, and it gave me pause. The author – for whatever reason – felt the need to correct me on Goodreads and explained that “dodging the bullet” in this case referred to “more argument/hassle from his parents if he’d been gay.” Feel free to interpret that how you choose; it didn’t change my opinion.
2. The Evil Ex-Wife theme is persistent throughout. I’m personally not a fan of this storyline especially when it doesn’t enhance or is necessary a story. I definitely did not think painting Miranda in a negative light – all throughout the book – was necessary to the story. Within hours of meeting Jamie, Guy was bashing his ex-wife to the point where Jamie was indignant that Guy had to pay child support for his own children. The Evil Ex theme pops up again when Guy blames Miranda repeatedly for turning Patrick, their 20-year-old “problematic” son against him. I was also taken aback at how much Guy didn’t care for his own son and would bad-mouth him in front of others and even allow other people to do the same. I’m not a parent, but it felt a bit more vitriolic than the usual parental frustration. Going back to the Evil Ex-Wife theme, I felt that Guy had plenty of other demons involving past lovers, that painting the mother of his children in a villainous light seemed highly unnecessary.
3. To be honest, from the blurb, I was not prepared for the kind of help that Guy proposed to Jamie. My mouth was hanging open in shock and disbelief the entire first three chapters of the book. His idea of paying it forward was really extreme, and made Jamie 100% dependent on him for anything and everything. Guy explained in great length the reasons for it, but I think it’s fair to say that there were much simpler ways to help a desperate young man, that would’ve still been really generous and meaningful. But what I really had difficulty with was Jamie accepting Guy’s proposition within hours of meeting the man. I will add here that I kept on reading to see if the creepiness factor subsided, and thankfully it did, somewhat. I felt that Guy addressed Jamie a little condescendingly on occasion (or maybe he just mothered him), but their friendship progressed smoothly, as did their growing attraction for each other.
4. Just when I had started to settle into the story and was getting interested in their developing relationship, I hit a complete and utter deal breaker at 61% and I marked the book as DNF. Despite Jamie’s friend Ryan being an out-and-proud bisexual and their discussions about sexual identity, this book contained some heavy elements of biphobia and bi-erasure. Most of it was contained within Guy’s narrative, in which he kept calling Jamie straight, even after Jamie made it clear he was attracted to Guy. And then there were the two “straight” men who had burned him in the past, when it was clear neither man had been straight. One was married to a woman, which makes him cheater and most likely a closeted bisexual, but not “straight.” But when Guy shared the story of his most recent ex, I realized how deep the bi-erasure and biphobia really ran:
“Derek was straight, but that wasn’t why everything got fucked up. It turned out he was a greedy little bastard who was only with me for all he could get.”
“In my experience, a lot of straight guys consider sex with a gay guy because they want to experiment, not because they’re romantically attracted to them. Maybe there are lots of gay guys more readily available for hookups. Maybe they’re not getting enough. Maybe it provides them with sexual release, but that’s as far as it goes. They still see themselves as hetero, and heaven forbid you should fall for one of them.”
“Strangely enough, finding him in my bed with two guys wasn’t the worst part.”
“I should have known better than to become so invested in a straight guy, even if I truly believed at the time that he was looking for something… romantic. I can see now the romance part was all on my end.”
These are just a few excerpts from the conversation Guy had with Jamie that finally did my head in. Between this hot take on “straight guys” and Guy calling everyone straight when they’re obviously bi or gay, I was done. Up to this point, I’d kept telling myself to keep on reading and maybe certain things will improve or be explained, but this proved too much for the likes of me to unpack.
You can purchase Step By Step at:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.