Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M romance from Jay Northcote. SAFE PLACE is the second book in his Rainbow Place series set in Porthladock, Cornwall. I really enjoyed BETTER PLACE MUD & LACE and HAPPY PLACE, so I’ve begun digging back in the series for more…
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.
Alex and Cam are an odd couple who meet at Rainbow Place, an LGBTQ-friendly cafe due to soon open in Porthladock, Cornwall. Or, not open, as gay bashers have defaced the place and destroyed large parts of the interior to prevent the business from taking root. Cam is a 23 y/o bisexual man playing for the local rugby team, who also works as a landscaper. He recruits his rugby mates to help with the clean up or Rainbow Place.
Alex is 17, and it’s nearly time for his GSCE revisions to be due. He’s gay, but closeted, and his dearest friends are a transgirl and flamboyant gay pal who was once a boyfriend on the super down-low. Alex’s father is a well-to-do businessman and a fan of whomever trashed Rainbow Place, as he’s very much homophobic. Alex fears his dad will kick him out if he comes out, so he’s banking on moving away for college where he can finally live openly. Still, he’s got a major crush on Cam, and is excited that they get a little physical on Alex’s 18th birthday. Yet, he’s deflated when Cam puts the breaks on–Alex is so young, and likely to move away. He doesn’t want to get hung up on the boy, after all. They make a good friends situation and Cam doesn’t want to mess up yet another friendship with sex.
Still, it’s not all easy. Alex’s grades aren’t sufficient to bring him out of his parents’ home, and he ends up working for his dad all summer and then some, while his pals move away. His growing friendship with Cam is fraught with charged moments, and it’s not long before Alex’s desire for companionship blows his world to pieces. His dad finding out in the most embarrassing way possible leads to a physical confrontation that makes Alex flee for his safety. Good thing Cam’s immediately there to help Alex sort out his future. It’s a bit tricky bringing Alex into his rental with Wicksy, a rugby mate. Their close proximity only rallies the attraction between them, as much as Cam tries to apply the brakes.
I liked how this close-knit community rallied around Alex, who makes great strides at independence. Now that he’s on his own, he doesn’t see the point of Cam keeping him at arm’s length. Their attraction isn’t cooling off, in any case, and Cam’s best pals make it clear that he’s doing himself damage by denying what’s right in front of him. The Rainbow Place community is a bosom of support, even as all the folks there are making romantic connections, it seems. Well, it’s the place for meeting like-minded folk and feeling safe, so it lends itself to people who need that support and want to build relationships. Alex is one of those, and he thrives as a server in the cafe. Supporting himself and soon finding permanent lodging is all possible thanks to the support of the Rainbow Place folks.
I also was happy to see Alex find some reconnection to his family, in a way he hadn’t actually predicted. The ending is happy, especially as Alex and Cam find they are great friends and even better lovers. We get some glimmers of stories to come ahead, particularly Wicksy and Alex’s fellow server Dylan finding partners–though not with one another. I was glad to read this new adult romance, and find it so tender and supportive. It’s not as sexy as some of the other stories in this series, but it has enough tenderness and sexytimes for a new adult romance.
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!