Friday, April 26, 2019

ARC Review: Mud & Lace (Rainbow Place 4) by Jay Northcote

When Wicksy falls for drag queen Charlie, they discover that both sexuality and gender can be fluid.

Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his rugby teammates—has only ever been interested in women. But when he sets eyes on Lady Gogo, a drag queen who performs at Rainbow Place, he can’t stop thinking about her. He knows there’s a guy behind the fishnets and make-up, but he’s ready to explore his fantasies, and Lady Gogo is game for making them come true.

Charlie adores performing in drag. It allows him to indulge in his love of cross-dressing while earning some extra cash. Fooling around with a mostly straight guy in secret seems like a fun diversion, and gives him the chance to explore his feminine side. He feels safe wearing the mask of his confident alter ego, because the real Charlie is hidden from view.

When Wicksy sees more of the guy behind the make-up and glitter, his attraction to Charlie persists, and he realises he’s bisexual. In turn, Charlie begins to understand and accept his gender fluidity. As their mutual journey of self-discovery brings them closer, the secrecy becomes increasingly hard to deal with. If they’re going to have a future together, they both need to find the courage to show people who they really are.

Although this book is part of a linked series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.

Dani's rating:

Mud & Lace is aptly titled. Simon (Wicksy to his mates and Cam's best friend from book 2) is a rugby player; he's masculine and likes to get dirty. When Simon sees the stunning Lady Gogo, he can't look away.

Charlie (aka Lady Gogo) loves to explore his feminine side. Drag makes him brave and bold. He can embrace the Lady Gogo persona without shame. He just wishes he could do the same when he's not in costume.

Simon understands that Charlie is a man, but Simon loves the feminine, so Charlie as Lady Gogo, with lipstick and lacy panties, does him in. As Simon and Charlie spend more time together, Simon starts to think of Charlie as a "he" versus a "she" and begins to question his own sexuality (is he bi? pan?).

Meanwhile, Charlie wonders how "girly" he wants to be. Is he transgender or gender fluid? Jay handles these topics with sensitivity and grace.

The sex scenes in this book are kinky and sensual. The MCs have a real connection that moves beyond gender.

I loved the secondary characters, including Simon and Charlie's awesome moms. I understood Simon's fear of changing the way everyone perceived him, but I also got why Charlie didn't want to be anyone's dirty little secret.

The ending is a HFN, appropriate since Charlie is 20 and Simon is 24. I would have liked an epilogue set further in the future, but I very much enjoyed this 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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