Book 2: Safe Place
Official description: Where do you go when your home is no longer a safe place?
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.
My thoughts: Back to Porthladock for book two in the Rainbow Place series by Jay Northcote! This time, Alex and Cam are the main characters in the story. Alex was first introduced in book 1. He’s the son of a wealthy, homophobic bigot and has dealt with disapproval and control his entire life. When Rainbow Place first opened, it was a place for Alex to be himself. That’s where he first met Rugby player, Cam. Cam is six years older than Alex when they meet and even though they’re attracted to one another, Cam plays it safe and asks for the two of them to “just be friends”.
Being eighteen and having a crush on someone is such a familiar sensation! It’s the best of times and the worst of times because the emotions are so intense and the adult side is often battling with the teen side. The interesting thing for me was that Alex seemed to be the one who had his thoughts and feelings more clearly pegged! Cam frustrated me at times – he was indecisive about his feelings (although in fairness tended to act the same way).
Jay does a great job of writing a bit about growing up in a homophobic home. That kind of hatred is pervasive and Alex. has definitely been affected by his father’s bigotry. His self-confidence is lacking and he really has trouble understanding where he stands with people because of it. I’m thankful to Jay for his choice to go into this kind of issue with his character. I know it’s a complex one but family needs to be loving and compassionate and accepting!
There’s some great diversity in this book. There are a wide variety of sexual identities and a trans woman (who I adored!). I particularly appreciated the fact that Cam is bisexual and he’s a fully realized character. I’ve read some pretty wretched bisexual characters in my time and Cam was refreshing and authentic. Hayden, Amber, and Sophia are great friends to Alex and I love the way that they are written.
It was lovely to revisit Seb and Jason… to see how their relationship was progressing. And I love the way that Seb kept an eye on Alex to ensure that he was doing okay. It’s sweet to see that he has settled into the community.
I received an ARCs of The Rainbow Place series by Jay Northcote via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an unbiased reviews.