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 hint of cigarette smoke carried on the wind caught Nate’s attention, and he realised he wasn’t alone. A hunched figure sat on a bench by the church. Wearing a heavy coat with the hood up, their head hung low staring at the grass between their feet rather than at the landscape stretched out before them. A cigarette hung from bony fingers that protruded from black fingerless gloves. As Nate watched, the man—because Nate could see his face now—raised his head to take a long drag before stubbing the cigarette out on the bench.
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.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I enjoy second chance stories if there’s a good ‘redemption’ of the character so that they actually deserve one. Not if they get some bullshit excuse and all. But this book made it so much better because, as far as I understood it, it was both the second chance for Nate and for Jack, in their life in general and in their relationship.
Sometimes I find stories with FTM characters a bit hard to read because there are so many emotions that I identify with. I can’t say what the stories are like in general because this is only the second one I’ve read and is also by the same author than the first one. But I enjoyed it a lot and I couldn’t put it down.
Nate returns home to life with his mother because his daughter (from before he transitioned) needed a break from city life and her school and ‘friends’. Jack, on the other hand, returned home because he could not afford to live in the city anymore after his car accident, losing his job and self-medicating with alcohol.
When they meet at first, after a long time of no contact, Jack doesn’t even recognise Nate, whom he had known as Nat when they were younger. Once they put that aside, and start reconnecting as adults, Nate’s crush on his friend returns and they become friends-with-benefits. Supposedly.
As it is obvious from the beginning, this arrangement doesn’t work. They have feelings for each other, but Jack is afraid to tell his parents he is dating a trans man. I understood his reasoning in some way, but it did feel unfair to Nate. Jack’s parents kept referring to Nate as ‘she/her’ despite the corrections by Jack but … on one hand, this was understandable. They live in a small place, they are older, and are still seeing Nate as Nat.
I loved that Nate’s family was so accepting. His mother and his daughter have no problems with it and even when they figure out something is happening between him and Jack, they stay open-minded. What I loved most though, was how Cass was really accepting of her father and all that he’s gone through. He also seems like a really cool father, which I’m a bit jealous of 🙂
I really really loved this book and I want to recommend it to everyone because it is cute, it is, in a way, informative, and all-around awesome! As well as supporting the author because he really is a great one and one of my favourites.
April 20 – Gay Book Reviews, Katie’s Book Corner, Mainely Stories, OMG Reads
April 23 – Mikki-chan, Diverse Reader
April 25 – V’s Reads, Two Chicks Obsessed
May 2 – Bonkers About Books, Au Boudoir Ecarlate
May 4 – Wicked Faeries Tales & Reviews
May 7 – Xtreme Delusions, BFD Book Blog
May 9 – Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
May 11 – RAM PA Group, My Fiction Nook, Making It Happen, Wicked Reads
May 14 – Urban Smoothie Read
May 18 – Mirrigold, Bayou Book Junkie, Book Review Virgina Lee
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.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.
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