Length: 67,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
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.
A hint of cigarette smoke carried on the wind caught Nate’s attention, and he realised he wasn’t alone. A hunched figure sat on a bench by the church. Wearing a heavy coat with the hood up, their head hung low staring at the grass between their feet rather than at the landscape stretched out before them. A cigarette hung from bony fingers that protruded from black fingerless gloves. As Nate watched, the man—because Nate could see his face now—raised his head to take a long drag before stubbing the cigarette out on the bench.
A shock of recognition made Nate’s heart jump, thudding erratically.
Torn between conflicting urges to approach and flee, Nate stared at him, powerless to move.
How many years had it been since Nate had seen him? At forty-five Nate found each year passed faster than the one before. It must have been twenty years at least since he’d seen Jack, maybe more, and longer still since they’d spoken properly. Their last meeting had been nothing more than an awkward exchange of greetings when they ran into each other in the village pub one Christmas. The distance between them had cut Nate like a knife, so different to their teenage years when they’d been best friends, and almost inseparable.
Jack slumped forward again, letting the cigarette butt fall from his fingers. He put his hands over his face and Nate recognised despair and hopelessness, because they’d been his companions in the past. Acting on instinct, he approached.
“Sorry to intrude,” he said, pausing in front of Jack. “But are you okay? Is there anything I can do?”
Jack jerked his head up in surprise. His pale cheeks flushed as he shook his head. “Not really. Just having a bad day. You know how it is… or maybe you don’t.”
Nate studied him. The years had changed Jack, of course, but the essence of him was still the same. Sharp features, the strong nose Jack had always hated, even more defined with age, but more balanced now with dark stubble and the lines that the years were beginning to carve around his eyes and mouth.
As Jack stared back, Nate realised there was no recognition dawning on Jack’s face. To Jack, Nate was a stranger. Five years on testosterone had changed Nate to a point where Jack couldn’t see the person Nate had been before. Normally this was something Nate was glad about, but now he felt a pang of regret.
I’ve enjoyed all of this author’s books that I’ve read so far, so I was oddly surprised to be a little on the fence with Second Chance. It has excellent characters who have depth and come across as people with everyday—and not so everyday—problems and fears. The main characters are close to my age, so that helped me to identify with them from the aspect of growing up in the same time frame. I’m also a huge fan of second chance romance, and with this story you get that with a slight twist…one that was handled quite well and played out nicely between Nate and Jack.
On the other side is one of my pet peeves in any type of romance story—lack of communication between the main characters. This always drives me nuts since I sit here thinking “just talk to each other and say what you mean and feel!”…it’s just a plot device that can aggravate the heck out of me when I read. And for Jack, his lack of communication with Nate actually is somewhat of a product of his lack of communication with his parents. So I was a little extra frustrated by this as well.
One of the things this author did extremely well in his other transgender book that I’ve read, Starting from Scratch, was keeping the story informative regarding the many aspects of being transgender without making it sound too clinical. Here in Second Chance he was once again informative, though this time around some of the intimate scenes did come across as more explanatory which did take a little bit away from the passion.
As for the secondary characters, I loved Nate’s mom and daughter and how supportive they were of him. Jack’s parents were not as easy to like, but part of that for me was due to Jack’s lack of communication with them and his assumption of what they would think of him and Nate seeing each other.
I think the epilogue went a very long way in helping me land on the happy side of the fence for this story, and in the end I gave Second Chance 3.75 stars. Nate and Jack are quite naughty when they actually have the chance to be, so the sexual content along with the adult language does make this book one for readers 18+.
About the Author
One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story-just to see if he could-and found it rather addictive. He hasn't 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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