Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Safe Place by Jay Northcote Blog Tour

Where do you go when your home is no longer a safe place?

Alex is about to turn eighteen and is firmly in the closet. He’s been biding his time, waiting to escape to uni, and finally come out away from the oppressive influence of his homophobic father. When he flunks his exams, he’s stuck in the small town of Porthladock—and what’s worse is that he’s working for his dad. The only thing that makes it bearable is Cam.

Cam’s comfortable with his bisexuality, but he doesn’t broadcast it. Young, free, and single, his social life revolves around playing rugby and hanging out with his mates. He’s attracted to Alex, but with the six-year age gap, Cam’s wary of getting involved. Plus, he thinks Alex needs a friend more than he needs a lover, and as their friendship grows, Cam decides he’s not willing to risk ruining it for casual sex.

When Alex’s dad finds out about his sexuality, Alex is suddenly both jobless and homeless. He finds work at Rainbow Place, the local LGBT-friendly café and Cam lets Alex stay in his flat for a while. But Alex would rather be sleeping in Cam’s bed than on his sofa. With them both living under one roof, their feelings for each other grow stronger, and the sexual tension is hard to ignore. Will giving in to it ruin their friendship and complicate things for Alex even more?

Although this book is part of a linked series, it has a satisfying happy ending, and can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the second book in the series and follows on directly from the first book. I think you could enjoy it on its own, but it would be far better having read the first.

Alex is burdened with a terrible, homophobic, rich father and a mother who will not stand up to him, so he has found friendship via Rainbow Place. Little does he realise how important that friendship will be when his life leaves the tracks his father expected. I liked that he was quite philosophical about his grades, but confused as to why he didn't try alternatives rather than thinking he would just take another two years and try again... I found that a weird choice, although I accept that it fitted the book, and maybe my knowledge of how uni works affected my view.

Cam is a happy go lucky guy, with a job, sharing a flat with a friend, and his rugby team for company. He chooses not to get involved with Alex for some good reasons, but also some rather odd ones, and as the older of the pair, does give off some confusing signals. I did feel very sorry for Alex as the less experienced one, trying to understand what Cam actually wanted. In many ways, I guess it was probably very true to life, but seemed to be drawn out on the page.

It was good to catch up with some of the other people we met in Rainbow Place, and to guess who will be getting their chance at a happily ever after in the future.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, however, this one wasn't my cup of tea. The romance part was super duper slow. I couldn't connect with Alex or Cam. I kept getting mixed signals from Cam and it just made it that much harder to get the feels with these two. I really wanted to like this book but eventually I got bored and then my desire to see Alex and Cam get their happily ever after wasn't what I was rooting for, I just wanted the book done.

The second book in this series belongs to Alex and Cam. We met both characters in the first book. Alex is a closeted teen attempting to manage a difficult homelife while preparing for exams. Cam isn’t too much older but he’s an independent adult who enjoys rugby and time with his mates.

Because Alex is only 17 when the story starts, the age gap between Alex and Cam feels quite significant. The relationship between Alex and Cam builds slowly – almost too slowly for me to fully believe in any sexual tension between them. Cam makes the adult decision to cool things down until Alex is 18 and has finished his exams – but mature and sensible decisions don’t necessarily make for electric romance. I like both Alex and Cam, but I don’t love them together. In some ways, this is Alex’s growing up story. Alex’s journey is difficult, and I enjoyed watching him grow into a more content version of himself. But while Alex grows up, Cam remains stationary.

I’m usually a massive Jay Northcote fangirl so I’m surprised that I didn’t love this book. The characters are of a similar age to those in Northcote’s Housemates books but Alex and Cam’s story lacks the humour, the warmth, and the joyful smuttiness I loved in all the Housemates stories. At times, there is an oddly preachy tone to this series when the author uses the characters’ personal experiences to tackle bigger themes of homophobia and safe places. The result is almost a modern version of a Victorian morality play with too many characters reduced to types.

As a big fan of Jay Northcote's writing, generally all the books have been a massive hit with me, but there is something about this series that is a miss. I can't quite put it into words why neither book in the series thus far has resonated with me.

Readers previously met Alex and Cam in Rainbow Place, both helping to get the cafe up and running after it was vandalized. Alex is the son of a local politician who has his sights set on Rainbow Place being shut down, with all the expectations and inability to come out of the closet riding along with it.

Alex and Cam meet again at Rainbow Place, sparks flying and connections being met, but then when Cam realizes who Alex's father is, he penalizes Alex for it, pushing him into the friend-zone, as well as for the fact that he is so young. This adds the angsty slow-burn romance to their relationship.

Obviously the conflict of the storyline is Alex's bigoted father. I guess my issue is how predicable the story was from the get-go, the reader easily able to deduce what events would take place. While I find comfort in knowing there will be an eventual happily ever after, generally I can't guess the direction of every thread that will take place, but in this case I did. So for me, I didn't feel the delicious tension that has me so fond of slow-burn.

This was a quick read, nothing too angsty, making it a good, light novella to pass the time. While all the elements were there, it didn't elicit any passion or emotion from me. Without any true conflict as to why the romance didn't progress from friendship to more, it was just another book about the characters dragging their feet to an obvious outcome, like they were stuck in neutral for the bulk of the pages, leaving me feeling regret for them for wasting time.

I'm just going to chalk it up to this series not being a good fit for me, so I won't be reading the next installment, but I look forward to future endeavors by Northcote. I do highly recommend all of the author's works, especially to fans and readers of MM romance.

Also Available in the Rainbow Place Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Rainbow Place Blog Tour.

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.

Connect with Jay

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Google+  ~  Instagram
Jay’s Playground Facebook Group

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Safe Place (Rainbow Place #2) by Jay Northcote to read and review for this tour.

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