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First Impressions

First Impressions - Christopher Koehler First up, this is gay fiction not m/m romance although a romance is at the heart of the book."First Impressions" is one of the best books I've read this year. There is so much going for it, if you drop your prejudices, look beneath the surface and think about what the author is saying.It makes a number of statements on a number of levels clothed in witty, irreverent and scathing dialogue as befits a gay writer doing exactly what Jane Austen did many years ago.It's fun picking the parallels with specific characters. They are there in essence, but at times the lines blur. For example, Simon is sometimes said to be the Wickham character, but really he reminds me more of Elizabeth's friend Charlotte and her marriage of convenience to Mr Collins aka Henry's Uncle Brenton. The master stroke was making his alter ego, the drag queen as a beautiful rendition of Lady Catherine.Just as in the original, the secondary characters are seen through the eyes of the long suffering quieter pair, Elizabeth and Darcy, or in this case Cameron and Henry. Their friends' frivolities and flaws stand out in marked contrast to the latter's more conservative behavior.True, the antics can be at times over-the-top, because deep down the POV character, Cameron, makes no bones about the fact he's gay and allows the stereotypical acerbic gay wit to sneak through.Some of the scenes in the book are priceless. Take for example the early scene in the diner where the four men have gathered on Cameron's birthday. Their sniping dialogue is very well done.Reading this requires you to look underneath words and concentrate more on what characters do. Those with good hearts may on the surface appear bratty, selfish and out of control but that is often a front donned to protect themselves from the judgemental pricks of (and in) society.There's also a very serious, thought-provoking discussion on what makes the perfect partner. Present are Cameron's mentors, Brent and Aspen (aka Mr and Mrs Gardiner) and Darren (aka Mr Bingham) The criteria of choosing the Ideal Husband hold true for anyone of any gender, and the answer may surprise some people. I have no doubt that the arguments presented here reflect the author's own beliefs, judging by his record of nearly twenty years of happy marriage.All I'd like to know is if Darren ends up with Thad or Van (or both maybe) that would be a perfect match.So, if you've been put off reading the book because of negative reviews, do yourself a favor and read it without prejudice because I think the author should be proud of what he's written.Mind you, you don't have to have read Pride and Prejudice to enjoy the story, and I'd forgotten hearing about the link until half way through. This link explains some plot roughness as characters are used to mirror the original. But overall, it is a comedy of manners of our time, a sarcastic take on the society it's set in and a collection of some really memorable characters.