Contemporary · diverse characters · mental health · MM romance · own voices author

REVIEW: Better Place by Jay Northcote

There’s a new installment in the Rainbow Place series coming on March 18!! Follow along as I read and review the first five books in the series! 

Book 3: Better Place

Official description: Joe deserves better. Meeting Dylan helps him see that.

After a recent redundancy, Joe takes a few months off to try and make it as a writer. His partner, Harry, is less than supportive but Joe is used to that after ten years together, just like he’s used to Harry’s controlling nature and his drinking habit.

Dylan, a server at Rainbow Place, is fascinated by Joe as he sits in the café and works on his laptop. His attempts to flirt are met with awkwardness at first, but gradually Joe opens up. Dylan is disappointed when he learns Joe isn’t single. As their friendship develops he begins to worry about the nature of Joe’s relationship, especially when he witnesses Harry’s behaviour in person. Abuse isn’t always physical, and Dylan knows that from experience. His concern helps Joe see his relationship for what it is, and gives him the courage to end things with Harry.

Free to act on their mutual attraction, Joe and Dylan dive headlong into something that becomes serious fast. Joe revels in the passion and intimacy he’s been missing out on for so long, but Dylan is worried that Joe is on the rebound. He puts on the brakes, knowing that they need to slow down to make this last. For this new relationship to work, Joe needs to show Dylan that he’s ready to move on from the past.

Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone and has a satisfying happy ending

My thoughts:

Joe is living an isolated life. He’s in a long term relationship which appears to be more than a little unsatisfying and he’s struggling to try and write without his partner’s support. He ends up At Rainbow Place to do his writing and that’s how he first encounters Dylan.

Dylan is an artist when he’s not working his butt off at the cafe. He’s entranced by joe when he first sees him appear at the cafe and he strikes up a friendship with him. He’s concerned when he first sees the way that Joe’s long-term partner speaks to him at the cafe but Joe doesn’t want to talk about it.

Jay had done it again – writing about an issue that will strike home for some people. Joe is living a far from ideal life with a man that he once loved, and perhaps is now only tolerating for the sake of their history together. He and his partner are “coexisting” … and he’s feeling as though he’s lost his way in their relationship.

And Dylan – oh my heart – Dylan has his own memories to deal with and suffice to say there’s a very valid reason why he is so concerned about Joel. I’m not going into it because I don’t want to spoil the book, but I applaud Jay for tackling difficult subjects.

This book is character-driven with most of the focus on Joe and his predicament. I’m glad that Jay took the time in this series to fully flesh out the issues of substance abuse and domestic abuse. While there is physical and emotional abuse in Dylan’s past, the abuse that Joe is dealing with is primarily emotional. Emotional abuse is a terrible issue to shave to live with and I’m glad that such an emphasis has been placed on it in this story.

I tell you – I was more than ready for Harry (Joe’s long-term partner) to be gone. I know that I should have felt some sympathy for him because of the issues he was dealing with but he was a difficult character to like. I felt like I would have liked him to be gone from the novel a bit earlier – but then I reminded myself that life’s not actually like that! When a long term relationship ends, the people involved have to find a way to unpick all the knots that have bound them together over the years.

I did find that Joe moved on from his 10-year relationship extremely quickly! He was with his partner then two days later, he was “with” Dylan. Arguably it’s realistic that the feelings would be there, but I think that someone who was leaving an abusive relationship would take time to breathe and ponder his future before leaping right into another relationship.

and … this novel has beans and cheese on toast! My favorite meal!

I received an ARCs of The Rainbow Place series by Jay Northcote via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an unbiased reviews.

 

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