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

REVIEW: Mud & Lace 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 4: Mud & Lace

Official description: When Wicksy falls for drag queen Charlie, they discover that both sexuality and gender can be fluid.

Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his rugby teammates—has only ever been interested in women. But when he sets eyes on Lady Gogo, a drag queen who performs at Rainbow Place, he can’t stop thinking about her. He knows there’s a guy behind the fishnets and make-up, but he’s ready to explore his fantasies, and Lady Gogo is game for making them come true.

Charlie adores performing in drag. It allows him to indulge in his love of cross-dressing while earning some extra cash. Fooling around with a mostly straight guy in secret seems like a fun diversion, and gives him the chance to explore his feminine side. He feels safe wearing the mask of his confident alter ego, because the real Charlie is hidden from view.

When Wicksy sees more of the guy behind the make-up and glitter, his attraction to Charlie persists, and he realises he’s bisexual. In turn, Charlie begins to understand and accept his gender fluidity. As their mutual journey of self-discovery brings them closer, the secrecy becomes increasingly hard to deal with. If they’re going to have a future together, they both need to find the courage to show people who they really are.

Although this book is part of a linked series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.

My thoughts:  I was a bit hesitant going into this one because I worried it would be uncomfortable dynamic for me…but I should have had faith! Jay Northcote has done it again.

There’s a lovely character who has been in all of the books in this series. he’s a rugby playing, rough talking, sweet and supportive friend and ally to his roommate, Cam. Cam is bisexual and is introduced early on in the series as well. Wicksy presents as the rough and tumble, messy, bit of a disaster but absolutely loveable “straight” friend.

When Wicksy first sees Lady Gogo on stage at Rainbow Place… he’s instantly attracted and as the two get to know each other, the exploration begins.

What’s not to love about this book??? So – we have Wicksy who is the most open-minded man (if occasionally accidentally a bit too blunt). As soon as he sees Lady Gogo he’s attracted and because it’s mutual the two of them begin their encounters coming from a place of “kink” and “mutual pleasure”. slowly things change though. Wicksy begins his slow journey to self-realization as he explores the physical side of. his relationship with Lady Gogo.

Over time…. Lady Gogo becomes Charlie in Wicksy’s mind. He begins the sweetest exploration of what it is to be attracted to someone. Do body parts matter? What exactly IS he attracted to? Even though he’s always been a supportive ally will his friends still accept his exploration?

At the same time as Simon Wicks is exploring his sexual attraction to Charlie, Charlie is having his own dilemma.

Very few people know that Charlie does drag. His best friend often goes on about men who are “too femme” and Charlie isn’t sure it’s even a good idea to tell anyone. When he meets Wicksy, he feels remarkable as Lady Gogo and being the center of his affections.

the exploration for Charlie takes a very different path. He explores wanting to express himself in a less traditionally male way. He lets his relationship with Wicksy spark to life his understanding of his own wants and desires, and his own self-expression.

This book is about true self-discovery as two people begin a relationship. At first, neither of them has a real understanding of “where they’re at”. Jay handles this delicate situation flawlessly. It was a pleasure to see Wicksy struggling to “come out” in spite of the overall open-mindedness of his friends. there was a real sense that it was important for him to just talk about his queerness… not that he felt he “had” to …it just felt important to him.

Of note too in this story are the mothers of both Wicksy and Charlie. These supporting characters represented the type of person one would want as a parent when coming to terms with significant self-identity issues. The passages between the parents and their children were lovely examples of what an open and loving family relationship should be.

These two may be a couple of my favorite characters in the series so far!

 

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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