Review: Second Chance by Jay Northcote

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Nate and his teenage daughter need a fresh start, so they move back to the village where he grew up. Nate’s transgender, and not used to disclosing his history, so it’s hard living where people knew him before. When Nate reconnects with Jack—his best friend from school and unrequited crush—his feelings return as strong as ever.

Jack’s returned home to get his life in order after an addiction to alcohol caused him to lose everything: his job, his driver’s licence, and nearly his life. He’s living with his parents, which is less than ideal, but rekindling his friendship with Nate—or Nat as Jack once knew him—is an unexpected benefit of being back home. Jack is amazed by Nate’s transformation, and can’t deny his attraction. Trying for more than friendship might ruin what they already have, but the chemistry between them is undeniable. 

Doubting his feelings are reciprocated, Nate fears he’s risking heartbreak. Jack’s reluctance to tell his parents about their relationship only reinforces Nate’s misgivings. With both their hearts on the line and their happiness at stake, Jack needs to make things right, and Nate has to be prepared to give him a second chance.

If I could stick more hearts to this story I would, in fact, I would stick ALL the hearts.

I finished Second Chance two weeks ago and I’m still thinking about the characters. It was like meeting new friends at pivotal points in their lives and I’m still fully invested even though I know an earned HEA was had.

Second Chance read so authentically I forgot I was even reading and I holed myself up for the day so I wouldn’t have to stop absorbing everything that was happening. Both Nate and Jack have returned home as adults and returning home is bittersweet. For Jack it’s definitely more bitter than sweet, but given his recent life choices and his relationship with his parents, it’s understandable. Nate has a solid family in his mom and a teenage daughter who isn’t easy, but who obviously loves him. Nate’s been settled in the village for a bit before Jack returns and when they first meet, Jack doesn’t even realize who Nate is.

Jack knew Nate as Nat back in school well before Nate transitioned and they were the best of friends. Both were loners until they found each other and the author gave a complete picture of their friendship and home lives via flashbacks throughout the book. When flashbacks work like they did in Second Chance, you get a story within a story and every bit of background evolves as it becomes relevant to current events so the reader gets added depth making the story just that much better.

As Jack and Nate got to know one another again as adults, the flashbacks also helped serve to give each of their younger voices the closure they never got when they were kids. Which made sense. Teenagers by nature are pretty self serving beasties in general and neither of them had the maturity to completely understand themselves much less anyone else. Jack was really pretty “normal” as far as teenagers go and he and Nat really had a special closeness. Nate was just beginning to understand why he wasn’t Nat and reading about him having to grow up as a teenage girl in love with her gay best friend is a recipe for heartbreak. As much as I did love the flashbacks, there was a melancholy air to them that got heavier as Nate’s story evolved.

Jack never understood why Nate cut off contact after school, but Nate has learned to be true in every aspect of his life. The honesty has served him well and in all truthfulness the story owes its strength to Nate’s honesty. Nate and Jack form a tentative friendship once again with a heavy dose of chemistry and Nate admits to Jack that he was in love with him back in the day and being best friends while Jack moved through a list of boyfriends was just too hard for Nate to watch.

Jack was honest with Nate too about his issues and the communication between the two of them was refreshing and necessary for this story. As the two got closer and decided to take their relationship to a physical level, Jack’s inner dialog was realistic and really very sweet. Jack was growing pretty smitten with Nate and more than anything else, he wanted to do right by Nate. A big part of that for the two of them was their compatibility sexually. There was no doubt there was intense attraction between them but Jack was in the dark about the specifics of Nate’s anatomy and what he was supposed to do. His naivete was charming and being that his concern was making his partner happy was sweetly impressive. Jack was lucky though, he was with Nate and Nate was open and let Jack know how intimacy works for him and Jack was wonderful about learning how to make Nate happy. The scenes between Nate and Jack were affectionately erotic and beautifully sensual.

The author really knows how to teach readers organically. Humans, being the nosy ass animals they are, are fascinated with what they don’t know. And let’s face it, what goes on behind closed doors or beneath the clothing of anyone is no one’s damn business. It doesn’t make anyone less nosy though and learning about transgender sexuality through relevant context is a pretty effective way to help understand human sexuality overall. No one should be defined solely by how, when or why they have consensual sex, but sexual orientation should always be respected and understanding and knowledge are invaluable to making that be a thing.

Remember when I said Jack wanted to do right by Nate? Well he did kind of blow it there towards the end. Jack’s parents weren’t cruel by any means, but they aren’t the most understanding and open either. Jack is in a pretty vulnerable place already and he’s not up to dealing with the feared fallout about their reaction to Jack’s relationship with Nate. Jack also felt guilty for not telling them about Nate, he knew he was being disrespectful to Nate, but he just didn’t have the confidence in himself yet. It really had nothing to do with Nate, but that’s easy to say when you aren’t the one being kept secret. An accidental run in made for an awkward and painful moment, but while the angst was true and earned, thankfully it didn’t last long. Jack learned a lot from Nate, most especially how to be brave. Jack pulled it together and did the right thing through lots of apologies and truth about what was in his heart for Nate.

The ending was a treat and I love where their lives are heading. It really is a beginning for them and I miss them already. This book has a permanent spot on my reread shelf.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

No comments:

Post a Comment