REVIEW: 'Second Chance' by Jay Northcote
Title: Second Chance
Author: Jay Northcote
Published: April 20, 2018
Publisher: Self-Published/Jaybird Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh/Black Jazz Design
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Erotic Romance
Length: 254 Pages
Tags: Gay; M/M; Transgender; Comfort/Hurt; Second Chance; HEA; CW: Off-Page Alcoholism
About Second Chance
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.
4 HEART READ
Jay Northcote’s Second Chance depicts too many important elements to review them as eloquently as he does. Let me start by saying, I’m blown away by Northcote’s generosity of spirit as a trans author, each time he reveals more of the female-to-male experience in his protagonists. For this, alone, the novel is worth purchasing. And there’s much more.
Nate has returned to his hometown after his father’s death and daughter’s suicide attempt. Jack has also gone home, after job stress, alcohol and a bad breakup precipitated a breakdown.
The two had been best friends through high school, at a time when Nate was Nat, a girl who saw her crush on Jack as the stereotypical girl impossibly in love with her unavailable gay best friend. Jack was hurt when Nat stopped corresponding, not knowing it was the only way to protect her unrequited heart.
Jack never learned of Nate’s transition, because it occurred after they lost touch, when Nat met another trans man and realized what had been missing. Can Nate and Jack overcome the past, as well as their current challenges?
In the guise of a romance, readers are shown a few of the many difficulties for trans men. While they may thrill in their new bodies, many will abhor them. And Nate’s vulnerability is precious, as he describes his concerns each time a new lover undresses him.
In the guise of a romance, readers are shown a few of the many difficulties for trans men.
Even when lovers are as attracted to them, as Jack is to Nate, society will place barriers. “‘Some people will never see me as a real man, and then what does that say about Jack? He’s an out and proud gay man. He might not want people to think differently about him because of me,’” Nate tells his mom.
And, when they are insensitive, using the wrong pronoun, showing visceral disapproval, Northcote allows readers to experience the million paper cuts that can shred one’s sense of self. More importantly, he bestows Nate with attributes that model how to rise above these slights.
What special qualities must someone like Jack have to choose a lover with these "strikes" against him. Readers appreciate Jack’s reliable certainty, knowing he wants to love the right person, not the perfect package. We hope he can apply the same yardstick to himself.
Then there is the issue of “stealth.” Is it true to oneself to simply pass as if one had always been male? “’It makes it sound as if the trans person is tricking people into thinking they’re something they’re not, when actually it’s the exact opposite. They’re letting people see exactly who they are, and their history shouldn’t be relevant,’” Nate explains to Jack.
Readers understand the trans individual may be safe “passing", but is that fair to the person they once were? It neither honors the difficulties of transition, nor lends a helping hand to others who may be questioning their gender identity in secret.
Readers appreciate Jack’s reliable certainty, knowing he wants to love the right person, not the perfect package.
And bravo to Northcote for making Nate and Jack middle-aged men. Younger readers deserve to know love, sexuality and intimacy can deepen with age, especially as early self-consciousness is outgrown. These men’s interactions are the best combination of sizzle and snuggle!
Northcote specializes in loneliness. He makes it clear. Jack and Nate’s isolation may stem from different sources, but their solution is similar – acceptance of one’s unique spirit. Nate and Jack show each other the selves they’ve forgotten they possess, and readers are treated to Nate and Jack’s romance, which started one-sided. How can they recreate a friendship with more even parameters as adults, while under their parents’ roofs? As a side note, I reveled in reading about England’s apparently more sex positive culture and where the disease of alcoholism is treated with compassion, like any other disease. Of course gender identity bigotry still occurs, and is a notable contrast - in some ways more chilling. Second Chance is a simple, yet complex novel, earning 4.5 hearts for addressing each issue it raises, with no undue plot drama, normal people, normal problems, and deeply felt emotions. I loved every word! A copy of Second Chance was provided to Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter, by Signal Boost Promotions, at no cost and with no expectations in return. We offer our fair and honest opinion on behalf of our readers.
Meet 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.
For more from Jay be sure and visit his website.