Erryn reviews ‘Second Chance’ by Jay Northcote. The ebook was published April 20, 2018 and is 246 pages. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Hamish Long, released by Jaybird Press on May 8, 2020 and is 6 hrs and 50 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I love own voice books.
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.
This story is a stand-alone and has a satisfying, happy ending.
I always enjoy Jay Northcote stories. They give me the warm fuzzies without too much angst. Sometimes pleasant and easy-going is best. That being said, this book is layered and textured in just the right way.
Nate is living a simple life. He lives at home with his mother and his daughter. Although his daughter has struggled in the past, it seems moving to the idyllic countryside has soothed her, and she’s settled in nicely. Nate might not be overly enthusiastic about living at home, but he’s carved out a nice life for himself and those he loves.
He’s especially grateful that he’s been able to leave behind Nat. See, Nate used to be a woman. After years of not feeling comfortable in his own skin, he saw a documentary about transgender people and it changed his life. Suddenly he understood. Suddenly things were much clearer. Choosing to transition at any age is a huge and brave decision. Nate was forty when he made the choice and now, five years later, he has no regrets. He recognizes himself in the mirror – be it the flat chest or the hair that now grows freely. His voice has deepened, and he’s usually perceived as a man. His daughter and mother have certainly embraced the transition and that’s important because family support means everything.
Jack is also back to living in the small town he grew up in. But he’s not loving the bucolic life. He sees the same circumstances that hemmed him in as a teenager. He’d escaped as soon as possible and planned to never return. When his life went tits-up in Manchester, though, he’s forced to return to his parents’ home. A little battered. A little bruised. A little broken.
When he first spots Nate, he doesn’t recognize the man. Of course he wouldn’t associate the handsome man with his best friend Nat. He and Nat spent most of their childhood together, as close of confidantes as ever there were. Jack is intrigued by Nate, but it’s only a chance encounter that leads him to see that Nat is now Nate. Ever respectful, especially as a gay man himself, Jack immediately uses the right pronouns and works hard to perceive Nate as he is now, not how he used to be.
There’s a problem (isn’t there always – it’s the hallmark of every good romance, after all). Nate has loved Jack for their entire relationship and those feelings haven’t abated. As teenagers the love had been impossible – Jack was gay and Nate was a girl. Now, of course, things are very different. Jack is still gay but Nate is a gay trans man. A man Jack finds himself attracted to. But there’s too much history, right? Too much friendship to risk on a love affair that could go wrong. However, friends with benefits works. Or so the two tell themselves. Of course in the end they realize there’s more to the relationship. There are obstacles. Jack fears his parents’ disapproval and Nate has his daughter and mother to worry about. There is still plenty of stigma around being gay, let alone being trans. So where does that leave them?
Hopefully with a happily ever after, right? I mean, this IS a Jay Northcote romance. Had to have a dark moment, though.
I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Northcote’s writing, but this book had an extra layer of depth. Mr. Northcote has been open about his own transition and this book felt very personal. There were plenty of gentle lessons to those of us who are curious but uninitiated. After all, the internet probably has as much false information as correct stuff. In this book, I knew I was getting the real truth and that meant a lot. I’m a firm believer in reading own voices whenever possible.
Hamish Long narrated this beautiful story and I think he did a laudable job. I always enjoy his narrations and this book is one I can highly recommend.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Jay Northcote 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. Jay has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and he 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.