Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Release Blitz: Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote (Review)

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Cover: Garrett Leigh

Length: 57,000 words

The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

Helping Hand (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Like A Lover (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Watching and Wanting (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he's committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

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

5 Stars

An amazing tale of love, acceptance, friendship, support and the decency that we often don't realise exists in so many ordinary, everyday people.

I'm a fan of this author and his works, and I've come to equate the name Jay Northcote with a great tale that has a lot of heart, a lot of realism and that ends in the start of a HEA, despite his leads' relatively young ages. Some might think of his books as ending with HFNs, but for me, there's clear commitment and a desire for a shared future in his guys, age be damned. This book, which I'd heard about a while back when JN talked about possible writing plans for 2017, hit me in so many ways - it opened my eyes, educated me, made me think and think some more, made me a little sad, brought out the protective mum in me, touched my heart and made me a lot happy and a lot emotional. I think it's touched me enough to make me a better person for reading it. I hope, and feel, so.

Going into it, I had expected a tale full of emotions, but I hadn't a clue about the potential mix of good/bad/happy/prejudice or not/sad, and I ended up incredibly moved and in a great place. Without spoiling the tale, I can tell you that there are several examples of amazing love in it, and so, so much happiness, due to both main and side characters, their POVs, their acceptance, their decency, their support and love, and their friendship and caring, that I ended up actually crying. I loved Ben, who had such strength of character and who had the support of his nearest and dearest and yet ended up vulnerable and hurting at times, and likely might still for a while to come - he made me want to reach out and hug him so, so hard. I loved Sid who loved the whole person who was Ben, who didn't make snap judgements, who listened, who was patient and persistent in being there for Ben, in the limited ways that Ben was prepared to allow him to be, until Sid earned his trust and his complete honesty. And when these guys came together, it was heartwarming and so, so loving and believable.

Maybe the tale touched me so much in part because I have a nearly-25yo of my own, who's also called Ben and for whom life so far has been pretty easy, but mostly, I think it's because JN writes with honesty, with feeling, about things that have touched him, about things he cares about, and, I think, with a genuine, but not preachy, desire to help people understand and become more tolerant - and I'm not just talking about this tale, but also the others in the series, his standalones, and via his social media posts and blog.

This is done with heart and has some amazing young British people in it. It's a tale that gives me hope for the future, that makes me proud to be British, that made me think and go off and educate myself and made me want to be a better person - full stop.

ARC courtesy of the author for my reading pleasu

Author Bio

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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