Monday, May 1, 2017

Starting From Scratch by Jay Northcote - Blog Tour with Review

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Cover: Garrett Leigh

Length: 57,000 words

The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

Helping Hand (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Like A Lover (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Watching and Wanting (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Starting over isnít easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. Heís starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend heíll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wantsóin the short term at least. Benís guarded at first, and Sidís not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Benís defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesnít matter to Sid that Ben is trans. Heís attracted to the whole person, and isnít worried about what isóor isnítóin Benís pants. Theyíre good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Benís insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he's committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

4.75 out of 5 stars
Starting From Scratch is the 5th book in the Housemates series but could be read as a standalone. I recommend reading the entire series in order as the characters from the previous books are featured prominently in this book. 

Every once in a while a book comes along with characters that grab you and won't let go. This book hits that mark for me, especially Ben. Now the combination of Ben and Sid and their developing relationship, along with Ben's constant character growth, well that's the one-two punch that makes this book my favorite in this series. 

Ben is a university student who's come back after a long break during which he'd realized that he wasn't living his life the right way. He realized that the body and gender he was in wasn't who he was and made the decision to transition from female to male. Now he's chosen to go back to university to 'start over' both as Ben and with a different area of study. Ben lives in off campus housing with a group of LGBT friendly students. While he likes his flat mates, Ben is an introvert who is socially awkward. He keeps to himself and hasn't shared with the rest of the flat that he's transgender. Over the Christmas holiday he makes a decision that when he gets back to university, he's going to be more social with his flat mates, and on his first night out with them he meets Sid and they end up flirting with each other. 

Sid knows the flatmates because he's previously dated Jude. He's seriously attracted to  Ben but they get off to a rocky start. Until finally Ben decides that he should try a date with Sid, and he takes the major step of sharing that he's transgender with Sid. Sid handles Ben's revelation very well, and doesn't walk away or treat him any different then he'd done before. Sid's reaction overall both with Ben and then after when he decides to do some research of his own on what dating a transgender person might entail, is handled about as perfectly as you could get. 

I loved watching these two interact on the page, both as a couple, and then with their friends. Watching Ben come out of his shell with his flatmates and putting himself out there with Sid just made my heart melt. That's not to say that everything is sunshine and roses. Ben still suffers from moments of dysphoria and struggles with being 'enough' for Sid, and enough for himself. It gives Ben and Sid some conflict in their relationship because there are times that Ben gets really quiet and won't share himself with Sid. Most of this comes down to Ben feeling that he's not cis enough for Sid. Which when he does talk to Sid, he reminds Ben that he IS enough for Sid and he's who Sid wants to be in a relationship with. 

Starting from Scratch really is a book that you need to pick up and read for yourself. It's well written, with fantastic main characters and fantastic supporting characters. The story will tug on your emotions but will also give you many smiles and laugh out loud moments, along with some sexy times between Sid and Ben. 

I highly recommend picking this book up for your next read, just make sure you have some time to read it in one sitting. You will not want to put this one down. 

Author Bio

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short storyójust to see if he couldóand found it rather addictive. He hasnít stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.
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