Review: Watching and Wanting: Jay Northcote

Watching and Wanting (Housemates, #4)
Jay Northcote
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Released January 20, 2017
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Watching Jude’s cam show stirs desires Shawn’s always denied...

Shawn is adrift. Recently graduated, he’s stuck in a dead-end job that barely pays the bills. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends have moved on, and he’s still in Plymouth—going nowhere.

Jude is a student living in the same shared house. Out and proud, he’s everything Shawn’s been running from since he hit puberty. When Shawn discovers Jude works as a cam boy, he can’t resist the urge to watch one of his shows. It makes Shawn want things that scare him, yet his fascination forces him to confront his attraction.

Keen to explore his bicurious side, Shawn suggests they do a show together. Jude agrees, and things get complicated—and kinky—fast. But Jude isn’t looking to get involved with someone so deep in the closet. If Shawn’s going to get what he wants, he needs to find the courage to stop hiding from himself and be honest about who he is.

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.

Watching and Wanting is the second book I’ve read by Jay Northcote. It is the fourth book of his Housemates series and works perfectly fine as a standalone—I read book one, Helping Hand, several months ago, but have not yet read the other two. In addition to being a well-composed and uncomplicated story, the chemistry between the main characters, along with the fact that it hits a couple of my particular kink buttons, definitely makes this a book I’ve now added to my to-be-reread pile.

Shawn starts the novel without much drive. He and his girlfriend split up in the first chapter. His friends have all moved on to bigger and better things after they graduated from university with him, but unlike them, he’s stuck working a low-wage, dead-end job and has no current prospects for anything more. He lives in a house that’s mostly full of queer men, but he’s straight. At least that’s what he’s always convinced himself he is until he walks in on one of the housemates, Jude, masturbating as the star of a live webcam show. Once back in his own room, he can’t resist the urge to log in and watch, and it ignites sexual feelings he realizes he’s repressed. After Jude agrees to Shawn’s offer to appear on camera with him, things quickly get complicated between them.

One thing I’ve learned by reading a couple of Jay Northcote’s stories is that he is very good about letting the story unfold without adding unnecessary things to add drama or make it longer while still giving the reader a complete and satisfying story, regardless of how long or short it turns out to be. This is a skill I wish more writers of M/M romances used more effectively, because the result is almost always a thing of beauty. In the case of Watching and Wanting, not only is the plot beautiful for its simplicity, but it allows the chemistry between Shawn and Jude to sizzle from the moment Shawn realizes he’s not as straight as he thought. Happily, this doesn’t turn out to be gay-for-you or some other bi-phobic bullshit. Shawn is bisexual, though very much repressed due to his being heavily in denial.

The blurb mentions the word “kinky,” but take my word for it that it’s nothing big: Shawn discovers that he likes it when Jude takes control during their sexual encounters, so at one point, he lets Jude tie his hands behind his back. Beyond that small bit of Dom/sub play, there is no kink, unless you count the exhibitionism/voyeurism factor of participating on one end or the other of webcam shows. Regardless of how you look at it, the sexual encounters here are some of the hottest I’ve read in some time.

Perhaps the only minor sticking point that I have about the plot of the book lies in the fact that the factor preventing Jude and Shawn from being together is that Jude refuses to date a closeted guy. When Jude addresses the situation with Shawn, it comes across as very much an ultimatum. Being of a generation where coming out was not as easy as it is now always makes me cringe when this situation occurs in a M/M romance. At least in this story, Jude brings it up before they get too deeply involved, so it didn’t bother me as much as the plot device has in some other books.

Watching and Wanting is an uncomplicated, quick, and sexy-as-fuck read. While the time span of the novel doesn’t last long enough for the guys to get a happily-ever-after, their happy-for-now ending is good enough, because they’ve already worked past their stumbling blocks and they’re obviously a perfect match for each other. Not much more I can ask for than that.

Though I often receive free copies of books for review, I paid for my copy of Watching and Wanting, and this is my fair and honest review, with a big thank-you to my smut-buddy on the other side of the Pond, Tamara, for the great recommendation!
Helping Hand (Housemates, #1)
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Released June 26, 2015
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Jez Fielding and James MacKenzie—Big Mac to his mates—are in their second year at uni. After partying too hard last year, they make a pact to rein themselves in. While their housemates are out drinking every weekend, Jez and Mac stay in to save cash and focus on their studies.

When Jez suggests watching some porn together, he isn’t expecting Mac to agree to it. One thing leads to another, and soon their arrangement becomes hands-on rather than hands-off. But falling for your 'straight' friend can only end badly, unless there’s a chance he might feel the same.

This book is a complete story and can be read as a standalone.

Like a Lover (Housemates, #2)
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Released September 4, 2015
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Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debts. Focused on his goals, he’s working as an escort to pay his way. He enjoys the no-strings sex and doesn’t have the time or inclination for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.

When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex before, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should have known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him, he has an inheritance to support his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT wouldn’t cover the cost.

With each appointment the lines get increasingly blurred. Something is developing between them that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction, but they come from different worlds and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.

This book is a complete story and can be read as a standalone.

Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates, #3)
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Released June 22, 2016
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Getting experience with the guy next door seems like a great idea-until the lines blur. Dev, a geeky first year physics student, has zero sexual experience and he's determined to change that ASAP. After a bad time in halls of residence, he's starting the summer term with different housemates and a new plan of action. Ewan lives in the house next door to Dev. He's young, free and single, and isn't looking to change that anytime soon. When awkward circumstances throw them together, Ewan offers to help Dev out in the bedroom in return for maths tutoring, and Dev jumps at the chance. They work their way through Dev's sex-to-do list, but what starts as a perfect no-strings arrangement gets more complicated as their feelings for each other begin to grow. If they're going to turn their lessons in lovemaking into something more permanent, they need to work out how they feel about each other-before they get to the end of Dev's list.

This book is a complete story and can be read as a standalone.
Jay Northcote
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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 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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