Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary transgender M/M romance newly released from Jay Northcote. SECOND CHANCE is a mature romance for two old mates who’ve reconnected under strained circumstances. Nate fell hard for Jack when they were schoolmates, but a lot has changed in twenty years…. Can their rekindled friendship ever be more?
About the book:
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 licence, 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.
How about a little taste?
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.”
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.
Nate and Jack were the best of friends in school, but that was twenty-five years ago. And, Nate was Natalie, back then. Nate had a terrifying crush on Jack, who was out-gay before they left for uni, and he couldn’t bear to here of Jack’s sexy exploits so he dropped their friendship.
Nate’s sexual dysmorphia continued to grow into his twenties, even after having a child. Near his late thirties he recognized he was trans, and has had treatment since–to the point where he “passes,” which is a bit of a situation when he runs into Jack back in their small hometown. Nate and his duaghter have moved to live in a smaller locale, and share Nate’s childhood home with his mum. Jack had a terrible break-up and became alcoholic, lost his license and job and is rebuilding at his parent’s home now.
Jack thinks Nate is a sexy man–and Nate’s not about to correct his misunderstanding on how they’ve known each other years–until it sort of washes out on a chance encounter. Still, Jack’s intrigued and Nate’s still suffering that darned crush. They agree to strike up their friendship once again, and soon add the physical. Because friends-with-benefits is sure to preserve their hearts. Jack doesn’t want to fall in love again, and Nate’s afraid to upset his life with more drama–now that his daughter’s well-recovered from some teenaged-angst/depression.
As with all books from Northcote, this one’s a steamer. It’s also sensitive, and engages the reader in the struggle for trans acceptance. The situation, coming “home” changed irrevocably but having acquaintances not honor that, is tense, and both Jack and Nate feel the pressure at times. Jack’s parents are rather boorish about it, often using wrong pronouns and calling Nate by his dead name. It’s upsetting, and Nate and Jack both must struggle through. Jack’s decisions aren’t the best in this regard, because he really cares for Nate, and is afraid to have he heart broken yet again.
I liked the shenanigans these two get up to, trying to have some private time in a place where privacy is at a premium, and watchful eyes abound. It’s a sweet and tender mature romance, and it had both gravitas and respect for person and situation. And steam. Don’t forget the steam.
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.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!