Title: Safe Place(Rainbow Place #2)
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press
Release Date: August 31, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary; Coming Out
Page Count: 180
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.0 stars out of 5
Where do you go when your home is no longer a safe place?
Alex is about to turn eighteen and is firmly in the closet. He’s been biding his time, waiting to escape to uni, and finally come out away from the oppressive influence of his homophobic father. When he flunks his exams, he’s stuck in the small town of Porthladock—and what’s worse is that he’s working for his dad. The only thing that makes it bearable is Cam.
Cam’s comfortable with his bisexuality, but he doesn’t broadcast it. Young, free, and single, his social life revolves around playing rugby and hanging out with his mates. He’s attracted to Alex, but with the six-year age gap, Cam’s wary of getting involved. Plus, he thinks Alex needs a friend more than he needs a lover, and as their friendship grows, Cam decides he’s not willing to risk ruining it for casual sex.
When Alex’s dad finds out about his sexuality, Alex is suddenly both jobless and homeless. He finds work at Rainbow Place, the local LGBT-friendly café and Cam lets Alex stay in his flat for a while. But Alex would rather be sleeping in Cam’s bed than on his sofa. With them both living under one roof, their feelings for each other grow stronger, and the sexual tension is hard to ignore. Will giving in to it ruin their friendship and complicate things for Alex even more?
Although this book is part of a linked series, it has a satisfying happy ending, and can be enjoyed as a standalone.
The author and publisher note this could be read as a standalone, and I mostly agree, though reading the first book will give background to several items referenced in Safe Place.
Premise of the book is Alex is on the cusp of graduating from the British equivalent of High School and is studying for University exams. His short term goal is to get good enough scores to be accepted into a University far from home. Meanwhile, he meets the ruggedly good looking rugby player Cam and Alex thinks they may have some synergy between them. Until Cam finds out who Alex’s father is and deliver’s the “let’s be friends…” speech. Alex accepts the offer of friendship while wanting more. When Alex fails to meet minimum scores in one subject and his father catches him with his pants down (literally), Alex’s carefully constructed plans come crashing down.
This is a coming of age and coming out story. Alex is moving on and out from under his parents tight – and homophobic – control, Alex and Cam are both growing up and trying to find acceptance from each other and the greater community.
Several things didn’t work for me: I found the pacing of the plot slow for my tastes. The reader knows at some point Alex’s sexual orientation is going to be discovered by his parents and there will be life changing ramifications. It seemed to take forever to get to this point.
Cam was an all-around Nice Guy. That’s it. Cam kept alluding to ruining a friendship in high school which was why he didn’t want to commit to Alex. I never really felt the emotional gravitas or impetus behind that fear. It was High School, with someone who wasn’t Alex, it’s now nearly 10 years later…? This emotional fear of commitment didn’t work for me.
The Big Reveal and climatic confrontation between Alex and his Father didn’t sit well with me. Alex’s Father caught Alex and a random hook up in very compromising situation, with witnesses. Yes, Alex’s Father was entitled to be angry and embarrassed. NO, physical violence was NOT appropriate. But I came away with the impression that Alex felt somewhat…righteous, about his actions. Ah…you were just caught with your pants down (figuratively), in your father’s business. This whole interaction left me puzzled more than anything.
So this installment didn’t grab me like Rainbow Place did. Seb makes several appearances, we get glimpses of supporting characters from book one, a handful of new characters that then go off to Uni, and after much angst, upset, and wishful thinking we get our happy ending.