coming out · Contemporary · MM romance · own voices author

REVIEW: Happy Place by Jay Northcote

The Official Description: A first kiss from a younger man leads to a sexual awakening…

George’s strict upbringing has left him ashamed of his sexuality. In his forties now, he’s yet to come out or even kiss a man—until he meets Quentin.

Quentin has had enough of bad relationships with men who won’t commit. Still raw from the last one, he’s not ready to try again. But George is sweet, and helping the older man get some experience might be a fun diversion.

Swept rapidly into a deeper connection than they bargained for, they face a dilemma. George isn’t ready to come out, and Quentin wants a boyfriend who isn’t afraid to be seen with him in public. Can they find a way to navigate the unpredictable waters of their new relationship and find happiness together?

Contains: Age gap, gay first times, sexual exploration, out for you.

Just the facts:  M/M romance, age gap, coming out, self-exploration

This is a sweet and powerful novel about coming out after a lifetime of shame. – Kinzie Things

 

My thoughts bit: The newest installment in the Rainbow Place series is a wonderful addition. As always, you can read it as a stand-alone or you can go back to the beginning and read all of the books! I recommend reading them all. The content of the series is well worth the time you will dedicate to reading four books!

In this book, Jay Northcote brings us back to Quentin. He’s a local reporter in Porthladock and is originally introduced in the very first book of the series. Quentin is leading a pretty happy life, except for the fact that his last relationship ended up being disastrous. With his heart broken and feeling a bit naive, Quentin still finds himself longing for a relationship.

George is a local boat builder and meets Quentin for the first time when he comes to write a story about him. At first, things don’t go very well. The gruff, introverted boat builder named George comes off as homophobic and closed-minded and Quentin won’t have it.

After some conversation (which at first is like pulling teeth), Quentin finds out the George is in the closet and has, in fact, been living with shame about his sexual orientation for his entire adult life. He’s never told anyone that he is attracted to men, not even his ex-wife or his daughter.

Quentin is attracted to George and agrees to a “hookup”. He’s intrigued by the idea that George has never been with a man in spite of his feelings. He’s out himself but he thinks that he can live with George being in the closet if he keeps things casual.

Naturally, as the two men spend more time together, their lives become entangled. and let’s face it, Porthladock is obviously a small town! Soon it becomes clear that Quentin is in over his head and George is panicking when there’s the potential for them to be seen together in public. It’s a bad combination. On one hand, George has no idea what he’s doing. He’s spent decades hiding his true self because he was raised in a religious family and feels ashamed of his preferences. Quentin has been hurt by someone who was hiding parts of his life so as he feels more for George he knows it’s a good idea for him to pull away.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the way that Seb (remember Seb from the first books?) had conversations with people about what was going on in their lives. He’s become a bit of a fairy godmother (pun intended) to everyone who comes to the cafe and I love that! He is a character that seemed to genuinely care about the community in the first book and as I’ve read along he’s progressed to being a bit of a role model and community leader.

The tangle of George’s mind was heartbreaking in a way. I know that people struggle with their orientations because of their religious upbringing and I’ve seen it first hand. Jay did a great job of expressing the self-loathing and insecurity that can grind someone down.

My only criticism of this book is that I wish it had been a bit longer. I felt like I could have stayed with Quentin and George longer as they worked through some of the details of “coming out” and “coming together”.

The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Infidelity (mentioned in past relationship), coming out, angst, shame,

Readalikes: Other similar reads you might like:

 

I received an ARC of Happy Place by Jay Northcote via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

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