Review: The Dating Game by Jay Northcote

Five sex-free dates—how hard can it be?

When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.

When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.

Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.

Owen has a well earned reputation for being a bed-hopper. Wham, bam, thank you Stan is his style - not dating. When Nathan, the 'straight' guy he fancied at university, moves back to Bristol and Owen hears that he's not so straight these days, he tries it on. Nathan is interested in Owen - just not in becoming another notch on Owen's bedpost. Five dates is the challenge he sets Owen, one a week, before they get down and dirty. Owen accepts, certain Nathan will give in to his charms before five weeks is up.

I liked this book, it made me smile. Although Owen has a reputation as a bed-hopper (and yes, it was earned) he really does like Nathan as more than just a potential shag. Owen was actually very endearing. He joked with Nathan but he didn't push him, he accepted the parameters of the bet, even though he longed for more. Nathan was lovely. Shy, slower at recognising/admitting that his feelings tended more to men than women, he was a really nice bloke. Nice can sometimes be a bit of a death-word when describing a character, yet it wasn't. He wasn't bland or boring, he was sweet and considerate.

The dates were fun. From that slightly awkward first date with all it's questions (am I over/under dressed? Am I boring? Where should we go? Do we kiss? etc. etc.) to the well planned, personalised second, third, fourth & fifth dates. I enjoyed them all.

It's quite a skill describing five dates and not have them become repetitive and boring. I loved the hill walking. That Owen had thought about what Nathan would like and taken him 'home' to Wales. I liked the fact that it was reciprocated with the indoor wall climbing. This wasn't just a quick meal and visit to the pictures, these guys thought about each other when planning these dates. Thoughtful dates were thoughtful and I dug that a lot. I very much like Jay Northcote's descriptions in the climbing date...made me think I might need to take it up as a hobby. (Or some kind of climbing pervert observer, you know to check the ropes were all fitted properly and stuff)...but I digress.

The only thing that kind of irked me was the disagreement the MC's had. Although it was sorted quickly and remained relatively angst free, it was the only part that I got a bit annoyed with. I know some conflict was needed, but miscommunication is a trope I generally find irritating. That said, it didn't bother me enough to stop reading or give it a low rating.

I think, when you pick up a Jay Northcote book you know you are in for a world of sweet fun. A couple of hours of wonderful escapism, with characters that are just lovely. If you're looking a for a simple, fun, and happy read, then this is the one for you.
The dating Game is due to be released on September 22, 2014, and you can pre-order here
To find out more, go to Goodreads.

A copy of this book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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