Wednesday, February 20, 2019

ARC Review: Better Place (Rainbow Place 3) by Jay Northcote

Joe deserves better. Meeting Dylan helps him see that.

After a recent redundancy, Joe takes a few months off to try and make it as a writer. His partner, Harry, is less than supportive but Joe is used to that after ten years together, just like he’s used to Harry’s controlling nature and his drinking habit.

Dylan, a server at Rainbow Place, is fascinated by Joe as he sits in the cafĂ© and works on his laptop. His attempts to flirt are met with awkwardness at first, but gradually Joe opens up. Dylan is disappointed when he learns Joe isn’t single. As their friendship develops he begins to worry about the nature of Joe’s relationship, especially when he witnesses Harry’s behaviour in person. Abuse isn’t always physical, and Dylan knows that from experience. His concern helps Joe see his relationship for what it is, and gives him the courage to end things with Harry.

Free to act on their mutual attraction, Joe and Dylan dive headlong into something that becomes serious fast. Joe revels in the passion and intimacy he’s been missing out on for so long, but Dylan is worried that Joe is on the rebound. He puts on the brakes, knowing that they need to slow down to make this last. For this new relationship to work, Joe needs to show Dylan that he’s ready to move on from the past.

Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone and has a satisfying happy ending.

Dani's rating:

Like the other books in this series, Better Place can be read as a standalone but, in my opinion, will bring more enjoyment if read as part of a whole.

The series revolves around a cafe owned by Seb (MC from book 1), and all the characters interact and are at least tangentially involved in each other's stories.

Dylan has a crush on an "older" (I use this term loosely since Joe is 42) guy who spends hours at the cafe writing on his lap top. Joe is trying his hand at being an author and is working on his first fiction novel. Dylan and Joe engage in subtle flirting and form a tentative friendship. Dylan is interested in more than friendship, but Joe is taken.

And therein lies the rub. Joe's partner of ten years, Harry, takes Joe for granted, isn't supportive, and has a drinking problem. I wouldn't say the relationship is abusive (although Harry is moody and a complete twat) as much as dead.

Joe breaks up with Harry halfway through the story but lives with Harry (understandably, since they owe a house together) under the very end. I don't like stories where one of the MCs is with someone else. Granted, there is no cheating. The guys don't get together until after Joe leaves the relationship, but Dylan is the catalyst for the breakup.

Something about Joe and Dylan's romance didn't fully jive for me. The steam level is fairly subdued, and the ending is a tentative HFN. Because the stories in this series overlap, the epilogues are not particularly satisfying.

However, I liked how real this story was. Dylan had escaped from an abusive relationship and so could relate to Joe's plight. The slow burn was very appealing. I could relate both to Joe's fears and Dylan's reluctance to push the relationship too far too quickly.

I'm intrigued with Lady Gogo and am very much looking forward to that story!

If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.
~J.K. Rowling

An ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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