Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance newly released from Jay Northcote. MUD & LACE is the fourth book in his Rainbow Place series set in Porthladock, Cornwall. I really enjoyed BETTER PLACE, and was eager to continue reading this engaging series. MUD & LACE features a not-so-straight man who falls for a drag queen with a monthly gig at the Rainbow Place cafe–and they both have some issues to confront.
Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his rugby teammates—has only ever been interested in women. But when he sets eyes on Lady Gogo, a drag queen who performs at Rainbow Place, he can’t stop thinking about her. He knows there’s a guy behind the fishnets and make-up, but he’s ready to explore his fantasies, and Lady Gogo is game for making them come true.
Charlie adores performing in drag. It allows him to indulge in his love of cross-dressing while earning some extra cash. Fooling around with a mostly straight guy in secret seems like a fun diversion, and gives him the chance to explore his feminine side. He feels safe wearing the mask of his confident alter ego, because the real Charlie is hidden from view.
When Wicksy sees more of the guy behind the make-up and glitter, his attraction to Charlie persists, and he realises he’s bisexual. In turn, Charlie begins to understand and accept his gender fluidity. As their mutual journey of self-discovery brings them closer, the secrecy becomes increasingly hard to deal with. If they’re going to have a future together, they both need to find the courage to show people who they really are.
Although this book is part of a linked series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.
Simon, called Wicksy by his rugby mates, is a regular at the Rainbow Place cafe. His teammate is dating a server there, and the team helped to get the place up and running after vandals smashed it up before the grand opening. Wicksy’s not shy about his interest in the stunning Lady Gogo, a new performer, but he’s not quite sure what to do about it.
Charlie is just 20 and trying to make sense of his life. He’s been out as gay for several years but his best mate, also gay, is rude about effeminate men. Charlie fears telling his pal about the drag shows he does to blow off steam and earn some cash would hamper their friendship. And, Charlie’s not sure he wants his mum to know about how he feels when in his Lady Gogo persona. Because Charlie feels empowered and sexy, glamourous and desirable–a far cry from his normal appearance. Wicksy, being a strapping lad, is catnip for Lady Gogo, and lights a fire within Charlie, too. But, is this handsome man really desiring a woman, because Charlie’s “lady parts” are all costume.
Wicksy’s keen on Lady Gogo, and they start canoodling, with Charlie in drag. It’s fun for both men, and these clandestine trysts help each man re-center their interests. Wicksy is recognizing that he’s not so much worried about Charlie’s sexual plumbing, while Charlie is owning his body and sex appeal in ways he hadn’t considered before. I really liked how this relationship grew–first from an acknowledged place of deliberate contradiction, Wicksy “pretending” Lady Gogo was female while Charlie indulged his inner femininity, to a more realistic recognition that sexuality is how we respond to attraction. Wicksy is a bit late in coming to terms with his desires, but he doesn’t make Charlie feel ugly in his male presentation, either. If anything, the reverence Wicksy always grants Charlie gives Charlie the emotional strength to challenge his own inner questions. It was nice that Charlie got to meet some new people who really supported him, and who offered counsel on his concerns about potentially being trans.
There’s a little separation when Charlie and Wicksy struggle to keep their budding relationship on the down-low, bu tit doesn’t take too long to get things back on the right path. They make the necessary arrangements to live their truth, which enables them to come out as boyfriends, in the end. This one had some very steamy sexytimes, and moments of sweet emotional connection. Even when Wicksy and CHarlie weren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye, their disagreements were always respectful, and insightful. They pushed each other to be better men, and the story shown for all their effort.
About the Author:
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.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!