• Second Chance by Jay Northcote

    Second ChanceSecond Chance by Jay Northcote
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Jay Northcote is a new-to-me author, and Second Chance is my first read by him. This is also my third read featuring a trans MC.

    Reconnecting with a high school crush after 20+ years makes for a good story. Throw in a radical transformation by one of the main characters, and you’ve got a great twist.

    The radical transformation comes in the form of Nate (previously Nat) who, when we meet him, is five years into his transition. He has returned to his childhood village and runs into his former best friend, Jack, who has also returned to the village. Both are dealing with the aftermaths of major life events and don’t expect to run into each other again.

    The MCs lives between school and the present were briefly touched upon, just enough to provide context for the progression of the story and the characters’ personalities. Though, I would have liked more details of those missing years.

    The author is very frank in presenting Nate’s struggles and journey as a trans person. I appreciated how Nate’s transition was addressed through jake’s questions and their intimate moments.

    I felt I got to know Nate very well, but Jake not as much. Again, maybe more details from those missing years would have helped.

    All in all, this was an enjoyable and informative, while not being preachy, read.

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  • Disbanded Kingdom by Polis Loizou

    Disbanded KingdomDisbanded Kingdom by Polis Loizou

    The writing was reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis, namely his novel The Rules of Attraction. There are many parallels in Disbanded Kingdom to The Rules of Attraction: a rag-tag, privileged group of young people looking for a purpose in life, unrequited romantic feelings, reappearance of an ex-lover.

    I had some difficulty with the writing style–painfully introspective and patronizing at times–and it took me about a third of the book to really get into the story. Different ethnicities and cultures are heavily mentioned throughout– some not so flattering. Politics is also a major talking point.

    The story is told from Oscar’s perspective. He’s very obviously depressed and that comes through every page. I wanted him to find happiness or, at the very least, get to a better place. He has many luxuries and conveniences at his disposal, but doesn’t think he is worthy of those privileges.

    I’d be interested in reading a sequel to get further insight to Oscar’s further discovery of himself.
    **Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review.**

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  • Life of Bliss (Love Life Book 2) by Erin McLellan

    Life of BlissLife of Bliss by Erin McLellan
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Stories don’t get any sweeter than this. Victor and Todd are perfect for each other even if they initially fight it. They don’t hold back with the snarky comments that fuel their passion for one another. I immediately loved Victor from Life on Pause, with his bright personality and penchant for gifting sex toys. I had my misgivings about Todd but he more than redeemed himself.

    “I’ve liked you all along too. Even when I didn’t like you at all.”

    The author takes frenemies to lovers (Todd refers to Victor as “Cutie McFuckFace”.), fake boyfriends, and accidental marriage to the next level. Usually with fake boyfriends, there’s a long, drawn-out lead-in but this story jumps right into it without hesitation, and it works. Boy, does it work. The circumstances leading up to the fake relationship seem believable and fit the personalities of the characters.

    Of course, lots of alcohol is involved.

    “Wine made him want to slow dance and make out.”

    (Same, Victor. Same.)

    We all know alcohol lowers inhibitions. Pair that with “Eureka Springs–Wedding Capital of the South,” and it’s inevitable that these two would get married.

    The morning after is a big shock, of course, but the fun and sexy times don’t stop. The author hits the reader with hilarious tidbits here and there (Victor’s sex toy box labeled “Important Documents” comes to mind.) while not taking away from the characters’ struggles to accept their feelings and make their relationship work. They recognize in each other the things they are missing in life that the other can provide: Todd’s desire to belong, and Victor’s need for love and companionship.

    And the chemistry…oh, man. These two are HOT. I’m shocked my Kindle didn’t burst into flames.

    Without getting too heavy and preachy, the author’s analysis of marriage transcends sexuality. Marriage can be complicated even in the most ideal situations. Throw in opposite personalities (Victor with his Lisa Frank shirt, and Todd with his button up, preppy look is pretty much the epitome of how different these two are.) and you’ve got lots of mess to sift through. There’s no doubt throughout the story that Victor and Todd are meant for each other. They just take the long way to get to that realization.

    This story is sweet (sticky notes!), funny (“I’m a sweet motherfucker.”), and romantic (Todd’s dedication to getting Victor’s overly complicated Starbucks order correct). What more can a reader ask for?


    **Advance copy provided by author for honest review.**

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