Friday, May 11, 2018

Second Chance by Jay Northcote Blog Tour


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 license, 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.

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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.

Jack.

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.”

“I do.”

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.




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆☆☆
Second Chance was a mix of second-chance romance, friends-to-lovers, and transgender romance, with the dark struggle of alcohol addiction.

I appreciated the fact that both men were in their mid-forties, something you don't see very often, as if only the youngest of us deserve and/or are looking for love and commitment. Northcote's backlist has a wide array of body types and ages, and I appreciate how they are perfectly imperfect to resonate with most readers.

In the past, I've attempted to read transgender romances and felt they always fell short. To be honest, those books made me leery to read any more books in this subgenre.

The author injects parts of himself into the story to create something realistic, with real emotions and experience. While informative, Nate being transgender isn't the plot of the story, it's a facet that enriches the experience while opening the mind of the reader to a perspective they themselves have the inability to understand unless they're transgender. The novel manages to teach, to entertain, and evoke real emotion from the reader.

To be honest, after being burnt so many times, I'll only read this subgenre by this author. However, I am open to realistic representations, not romanticized versions, should someone have a recommendation.

Second-chance: Nate and Jack were best friends growing up, with a lot of history shared between them, especially the angst of unrequited love.

Transgender romance: After two decades, and a lifetime of changes, Jack sees Nate again and doesn't recognize him after his transition. While the initial meeting was gut-punch emotional and connective, the second meeting at the grocery store gave me a case of second-hand embarrassment, which I found humorous and awkward in the extreme.

Friends-to-lovers: I'm not going to spoil this for the reader, but you can see where this is leading. As the pair bond over the past, share parts of themselves in the present, it's easy to see how they are unwittingly forging a future. Their interactions were raw and gritty, realistic, which is exactly why I read the book from cover-to-cover in one sitting.

----

My only complaint dealt with a situation involving Nate's daughter. She was the victim of a crime that goes unpunished. I'll believe what the author wrote, how the perpetrator was sorry. However, I felt this set a precedence, where the only one who experienced the consequences was the victim.

While I can understand not contacting the authorities, the parents should have been notified, and a therapist should have been mandatory. To do something so dangerous, where the victim suffers and the perpetrator receives no consequences, this sets it up to be done again and again and again, in varying forms, as no lesson was learned.

To have done it in the first place means they weren't in a good headspace – something more should have been shown, the parents and a therapist, as real help was needed, not just a brushing it under the rug.

Nate’s daughter wasn't protected or vindicated, and her perpetrator was let off the hook too easily, which means they will undoubtedly do it again, while the girl's trust in her father and those who 'should' protect her is broken.


Sarah☆☆☆☆☆
This is a beautiful second chance romance. It is the story of Nat, the schoolgirl with an unrequited crush on her gay best friend Jack. Nearly thirty years later, Nat has become Nate and both Nate and Jack find themselves back in their village and living once again at home with their parents. And while the friendship returns easily, both men find themselves wrestling with the possibility of a relationship beyond friendship.

This is one of the most life affirming, positive trans romances I’ve read. It’s also a story about midlife restarts, and family relationships between generations. It’s a more serious book than most I’ve read by this author and it is definitely aimed at an older audience than the Housemates books. While the sex in this story is crazy hot and just as explicit as scenes in the Housemates books, the connection between Jack and Nate feels more intimate and the older characters move towards a definite happily ever after, not a happy for now (HFN).

The three generations of characters are written honestly and convincingly. I loved Nate’s daughter as much as I loved Nate and Jack. At 45, Nate and Jack have memories and some regrets, but both are focused on becoming the best versions of themselves. I loved this book so much!




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.


Connect with Jay

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Second Chance by Jay Northcote to read and review for this tour.

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