Review: First, I Love You by Genevieve Dewey

Posted May 14, 2013 by Karen in Book Reviews / 4 Comments


Title: First, I Love You

Author: Genevieve Dewey

Genre: Drama with romantic subplot

Star: 5


One part Godfather, two parts Emma and a dash of Casablanca mixed together, “First, I Love You” isn’t a detective novel, a gangster novel, a mystery, a romance or a family saga. It’s a little of all of the above.

Imagine being a detective with a mobster for a father, or a mobster with a straight arrow, good cop for a son. This is a relationship that is tricky on its best day. Add in some well-meaning meddling from a mob princess sister, an arrogant DEA agent, and gangsters running a human trafficking ring and you have a recipe for a book that refuses to follow the rules. Told from the perspective and point of view of each the six main characters this is the first novel in a trilogy about love, loyalty, revenge and redemption.

Omaha Detective Tommy Gates has kept his gangster father at arm’s length his whole life. Mickey Downey has spent the better part of the last two decades trying to find ways to get back the son he lost through Witness Protection. Now Tommy has taken an opportunity to work on a Federal Human Trafficking Joint Task Force in Chicago where his father lives. Tommy’s sister Kiki and his mother Mary see this as an opportunity to build a relationship between the two. Tommy’s new DEA partner James Hoffman sees it as an opportunity to gain leverage over Mickey Downey. Tommy’s other partner, FBI Agent Ginny Sommers wants to keep Tommy’s family as far from the case as possible. When Kiki and James join forces, sparks fly and it sets fire to a maelstrom of unexpected consequences for everyone involved.


I can’t believe I almost missed this jewel of a story. I am absolutely in love with First, I Love You.

Tommy Gates is an Omaha Detective who has been pulled into a federal case which involves the Chicago Mafia dealing in drugs and human trafficking.  Tommy happens to have extensive knowledge and a secret underground contact in the world of organized crime. It’s a secret that he tries hard to ignore, even though this “secret” keeps popping up in his life. That secret connection just happens to be his father, Mickey Downey, the notorious head of the Irish mobsters of New York.  Well, a “retired” mobster.  Tommy Gates is the product of Mickey Downey and Mary Gates, his father’s true love.  Despite Mickey and Mary’s love, he was forced into a loveless marriage, which just happened to increase Mickey in the ranks of New York’s criminal world. But he continued to see Mary as his lover, and she bore him a son, Tommy, with whom he had a close bond with in his early years.

But Mary and Tommy left that life over twenty years ago, after Mary testified against Mickey and his associates. Since the trial ended in a deadlock, Mary and her young son fled under the Witness Protection Program. But “Magic” Mickey Downey never stopped loving his Mary girl or his son, and he used all his resources to find them, which he did.

Once they were discovered, Mary insisted that Mickey stay away. And out of love for her and Tommy, he distanced himself. But he continued to watch over them through the years and wrote letters to his son, always keeping up with all of his accomplishments. Sadly, the letters always came back, returned to sender. Mickey kept them, waiting for the day his son would be ready to read them.

Years later, his father goes to Tommy to introduce him to his siblings. Relationships between Tommy and his younger stepsister Katherine, aka Kiki, and stepbrother Joe were forged.  His father, for all his attempts at establishing a father-son bond, remained strained.

Once Tommy graduated high school, he was determined to become the complete opposite of his father and pursue a profession as a police officer, eventually becoming a detective for the Omaha Police Department.  Now the feds want his help and his connections.

Tommy forms an awkward friendship with Federal Agent Ginny, which I anticipate will bloom further in book 2. But for now, a more serious relationship ignites between his partner, Agent James Hoffman, and Tommy’s baby sister, Kiki. The relationship becomes intense; and when the truth comes out, everyone is wondering if James was using Kiki all along.

You will love the quirkiness of Kiki. She is rich and beautiful and to outsiders appears careless. Everyone expects her to be this mafia Princess. Detective James, of course, is one of those people. What he doesn’t know is that she is willing to do anything to fix her broken family, and she is innocent enough to believe that it can happen so easily.

Interspersed throughout this story is the drama that seems to be slowly building between two old loves. Mickey is trying his best to get his Mary girl to notice him again after twenty years.

I’m not a fan of books that hold too many characters, but the author does a wonderful job of telling six character POVs in their own chapter. It is a unique change that I found especially refreshing. The criminal activity in the background story is raw and exciting, and I hope more will continue in the next installment.

This was a moving book filled with colorful drama, and I was really excited to have read and reviewed it.

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