Length: 67,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
Everyone deserves a second chance.
Nate and his teenage daughter need a fresh start, so they move back to the village where he grew up. Nate's transgender, and not used to disclosing his history, so it's hard living where people knew him before. When Nate reconnects with Jack--his best friend from school and unrequited crush--his feelings return as strong as ever.
Jack's returned home to get his life in order after an addiction to alcohol caused him to lose everything: his job, his driver's licence, and nearly his life. He's living with his parents, which is less than ideal, but rekindling his friendship with Nate--or Nat as Jack once knew him--is an unexpected benefit of being back home. Jack is amazed by Nate's transformation, and can't deny his attraction. Trying for more than friendship might ruin what they already have, but the chemistry between them is undeniable.
Doubting his feelings are reciprocated, Nate fears he's risking heartbreak. Jack's reluctance to tell his parents about their relationship only reinforces Nate's misgivings. With both their hearts on the line and their happiness at stake, Jack needs to make things right, and Nate has to be prepared to give him a second chance.
A shock of recognition made Nate’s heart jump, thudding erratically.
Torn between conflicting urges to approach and flee, Nate stared at him, powerless to move.
How many years had it been since Nate had seen him? At forty-five Nate found each year passed faster than the one before. It must have been twenty years at least since he’d seen Jack, maybe more, and longer still since they’d spoken properly. Their last meeting had been nothing more than an awkward exchange of greetings when they ran into each other in the village pub one Christmas. The distance between them had cut Nate like a knife, so different to their teenage years when they’d been best friends, and almost inseparable.
Jack slumped forward again, letting the cigarette butt fall from his fingers. He put his hands over his face and Nate recognised despair and hopelessness, because they’d been his companions in the past. Acting on instinct, he approached.
“Sorry to intrude,” he said, pausing in front of Jack. “But are you okay? Is there anything I can do?”
Jack jerked his head up in surprise. His pale cheeks flushed as he shook his head. “Not really. Just having a bad day. You know how it is… or maybe you don’t.”
Nate studied him. The years had changed Jack, of course, but the essence of him was still the same. Sharp features, the strong nose Jack had always hated, even more defined with age, but more balanced now with dark stubble and the lines that the years were beginning to carve around his eyes and mouth.
As Jack stared back, Nate realised there was no recognition dawning on Jack’s face. To Jack, Nate was a stranger. Five years on testosterone had changed Nate to a point where Jack couldn’t see the person Nate had been before. Normally this was something Nate was glad about, but now he felt a pang of regret.
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I have a checkered history with Jay Northcote books, full of ups and downs, and when that happens I try to retreat a bit as to not keep reading an author that hasn't panned out for me. However, I LOVE a book with a trans MC, so I couldn't resist picking this one up. It turns out, it was a very good decision.
I read books with trans MCs written by any author, but I've noticed that trans books by trans authors are by far my favorite. Those authors's stories tend to feel more authentic to me, or perhaps that's just my perception. Either way, the way that Nate was written really worked for me.
I loved how Jay Northcote wasn't afraid to bring the sexiness. My internal voice was screaming, "YES, yes, yes," and I was just so pumped that we got to see the MCs get all hot and sweaty. I don't love it when I read a book with a trans MC and the smutty details are passed over- No, I WANT to read each and every bit! I found the sex scenes to be super hot, and I felt the chemistry there, 100%.
I really enjoyed the whole plot, even if the pacing wasn't exactly what I usually like. Truth be told, I don't love second chance romances quite so much because the feelings-part of the story always feels rushed to me. I like two characters to start from nothing and work their way up to feelings without a past interfering, so the speed at which these two MCs started getting physical and started feeling deep emotions was a little fast for me. However, I really loved the last 25% of the story, especially that romance-y romance ending. *swoon*
I think the book struck the perfect balance between being informative and not feeling too didactic. I like a little knowledge with my trans romances but if I want a detailed description of every transition detail, I'd rather pick up a non-fiction book. The book stayed focused on the relationship development, the family dynamics, the sex (YES!!), and, most importantly, the romance. And it turns out, I was 100% there for the romance, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
If you like second-chance romances or enjoy romances with trans MCs, don't pass this one up. Jay Northcote did his readers proud.
** A free copy of this book was provided by the tour organizer in exchange for an honest review. **
One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.
Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.
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