Length: 54,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
Can Jason find the courage he needs to be the man Seb deserves?
When Seb Radcliffe relocates to a seaside town in Cornwall, he feels like a fish out of water. He misses queer spaces and the sense of community he enjoyed when he was living in the city, and decides to open an LGBT-friendly cafe–bar.
Jason Dunn is the builder Seb hires to help renovate the rundown space where the cafe will be housed. Jason is also gay, but unlike Seb, he’s deep in the closet. He’s never had a relationship with another man—only allowing himself the occasional hook up with guys who are prepared to be discreet.
The attraction between the two men is instant and impossible to ignore. But while Seb is out and proud, Jason is terrified of being exposed. With the grand opening of Rainbow Place approaching, tension is growing among some locals who object to Seb’s plans. When things escalate, Jason is forced to choose whether to hide in the shadows and let Seb down, or to openly support the man he’s fallen so hard for.
Although this book is part of a series, it has a satisfying happy ending and can be read as a standalone.
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If you're looking for an angst fest or cotton candy, Rainbow Place is not the book. It's neither super angsty nor light and fluffy. It's somewhere in between: a well-written, balanced story featuring a Cornwall setting and two British MCs in their 30s.
Seb has been out and proud since he was a teenager. After inheriting some money from his grandfather, Seb moves to Cornwall from London to open a café. Initially, he doesn't have a theme in mind, but after discussing the concept with his friends (a lesbian couple), he realizes he misses his former queer social circle and wants to create an LGBT-friendly place, a safe space in an otherwise "old-fashioned" (read: not always accepting) community.
Jason is the contractor doing the renovations on the café. The men feel a spark immediately, and, against his better judgement, Seb begins a relationship with Jason. And therein lies the conflict: Jason is closeted and deeply ashamed of his sexuality (and ashamed of his shame).
Not everyone in town is happy about Seb's plans, and we witness a nasty hate crime. This is when Jason utterly fails Seb. I was so angry with him and not at all sure I could have forgiven him as quickly as Seb did, despite Jason's "big gesture."
I do wish the book had been longer. I wanted more page time with the MCs, although the relationship never felt rushed and the ending—a strong HFN—was believable and not forced. I typically prefer a blinding HEA, which should be news to exactly no one. But since this is the first novel in a series, I trust that Jay is not abandoning Seb and Jason and we'll revisit with them in subsequent books.
This is a steamy story and definitely on the dirty side of vanilla, which Praise Jesus! Jay really knows his way around a sex scene.
I really appreciate that while the setting and secondary characters, some of whom are clearly potential MCs (I hope Jason's assistant Will gets a story!), are well developed, Rainbow Place doesn't read like a setup for the rest of the series. The focus remains firmly on Seb and Jason.
I'm also thrilled that Jason's ex-wife and tween daughter were both super supportive without being overwhelmingly so. Jason has a great relationship with his ex, and Seb doesn't mind one bit that Jason has a child.
Overall, this is a sexy read with some serious moments that showcase the ugly underbelly of small towns with their deep-seated fear of anyone different, anyone BRAVE.
I am very much looking forward to more books in this series.
** A free copy of this book was provided as part of this review tour in exchange for an honest review. **
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.
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.
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