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 café 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.
This book reminds me again of why I love Jay Northcote’s stories so much. This is a truly wonderful love story with two incredibly authentic MC’s, facing real-life problems.
What I always take away from his stories is that love, romantic, soul-deep and overwhelming love, can happen for everyday regular people. That’s where he shines and brings out the magic. Which is exactly what he did here.
I really felt a connection with these characters, Joe and Dylan, though Joe especially, and I was so moved by their story. Perhaps part of the reason is its slow and gentle build-up, with the focus on the emotional bond between the MC’s first, before any physical shenanigans take place. The story builds very gradually, because at the start of the book Joe is still in a relationship, albeit one who has seen better days with a partner who is very controlling, dismissive of Joe’s wants and needs, and who pretty much takes Joe for granted.
Joe and Dylan start out as friends and stay that way until Joe’s newly single. No cheating here.
I think the author did a really good job at describing Joe’s and Harry’s relationship, taking his time to give us a look into their lives and for Joe to do his utmost for their relationship to succeed even after he gains a new perspective on it. It makes Joe very easy to relate too. I also love that Dylan wasn’t “that guy”, breaking up a supposedly happy home, so to speak.
Dylan’s past experiences make him very well suited to understand what Joe’s going through and seeing him watch out for Joe was very touching. Dylan also has insecurities to face and I love him for his insight and courage, figuring out the best way for their relationship to make it long term.
The writing style is wonderful, fluent and very evocative with beautiful imagery. I especially loved the scenes at the beach which were so descriptive I felt as if I was right there too.
I also absolutely adored one of the new characters! Lady Gogo is just wow! I can’t help but feel that she’s been introduced to be a significant other for a certain someone… and I have to say I’m super excited for that pairing!! So fingers crossed!
m/m, gay, contemporary, friends to lovers, age-gap
Number of stars out of 5: 5
This book is part of a series. I have not read the others, so it’s possible to read as standalone, but there’s probably side stories that are thrown in that only one reading series would appreciate, but it’s ok. Dylan is an artist on his off time and works at a LGBT café. There is where he meets Joe, an older man that he feels instantly attracted to. Joe is involved with someone else so they remain just friends, though attraction is still simmering beneath the surface. Joe’s relationship with his partner was rocky and very relatable. They were overly complacent and the other man took Joe for granted and was a bit of a jerk. Dylan could see the warning signs after witnessing an encounter because he had gone through something similar….and with a small scar to prove it. Even though Dylan was trying to help, he did come off way too brash in need to help. I also was iffy on how fast things progressed with Joe and Dylan. However, they had a fairly solid friendship before a relationship so I guess it makes sense to not hold back . Still. I liked how Dylan was supportive of Joe in ways no one else was and Joe was able to start building his life again. Also that Joe helped inspire and encourage Dylan with his art. Feel good book and I enjoyed reading. Will read previous books now.
Number of stars out of 5
This book left me feeling slightly ambivalent, and I reckon part of it is due to the themes this book deals with. Joe is in a relationship that is already falling apart, and meeting Dylan helps him see the extant of it. As he falls for Dylan, and realizes he is no longer in love with his partner, you understand as a reader why this is happening, and that it’s not ‘cheating’. Yet there are some gray areas and even the breakup itself was not a very clean break. I say it left my ambivalent not as a bad thing, just that it had a very realistic feel to it. Life is rarely black and white, relationships are complicated, and Jay managed to get that across very well in this book (and all his books have the same quality, be honest). I still felt uncomfortable at times, that maybe they needed clearer lines when they became a couple. Yet, you see how they build a bond over the time they were friends so it’s not like Joe was bouncing from one man to another without any thought.
The book also has a somewhat slower pace, and it works well with all the heavy themes it deals with. Dylan and Joe are both interesting characters, and I liked getting a lot of the other MC’s from previous books and side characters in the action. This book to me feels more of a HFN then a HEA but it is a happy ending non-the less.
I am also really anticipating the next book, IF I guessed the MC’s correctly, it looks awesome!
Number of stars out of 5