Title: Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press
Release Date: February 21nd, 2019
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: Kristin F.
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5
Joe deserves better. Meeting Dylan helps him see that.
After a recent redundancy, Joe takes a few months off to try and make it as a writer. His partner, Harry, is less than supportive but Joe is used to that after ten years together, just like he’s used to Harry’s controlling nature and his drinking habit.
Dylan, a server at Rainbow Place, is fascinated by Joe as he sits in the café and works on his laptop. His attempts to flirt are met with awkwardness at first, but gradually Joe opens up. Dylan is disappointed when he learns Joe isn’t single. As their friendship develops he begins to worry about the nature of Joe’s relationship, especially when he witnesses Harry’s behaviour in person. Abuse isn’t always physical, and Dylan knows that from experience. His concern helps Joe see his relationship for what it is, and gives him the courage to end things with Harry.
Free to act on their mutual attraction, Joe and Dylan dive headlong into something that becomes serious fast. Joe revels in the passion and intimacy he’s been missing out on for so long, but Dylan is worried that Joe is on the rebound. He puts on the brakes, knowing that they need to slow down to make this last. For this new relationship to work, Joe needs to show Dylan that he’s ready to move on from the past.
Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone and has a satisfying happy ending.
The author and publisher note this could be read as a standalone, and I mostly agree, though reading the books in order will help explain the background and characters more clearly.
The blurb summarizes the book and plot quite well and accurately, so I won’t rehash. Also one trigger warning as relates to abuse.
The plot was a reminder that abuse can be mental or physical, that it can happen in all relationships, and that it sometimes takes someone who’s been there to point out the signs. In this instance, Joe is coping with mental abuse and an alcoholic partner, but Joe excuses Harry’s behavior due to a recent move, Joe being laid off, and the stress of a new job. Which is all entirely understandable. But as the reader continues on, even the reader can see this isn’t a healthy relationship.
I quite enjoyed this selection. I thought Joe’s emotional turmoil was quite well written – the realization that where he and Harry are at is unhealthy, the growing attraction to someone who engages him, and the desire for healthy physical touch.
Dylan added a well balanced counter-point to Joe. Dylan had been in an abusive relationship that resulted in trauma and therapy (a counselor). It’s Dylan who recognizes the signs, and it’s Dylan who knows when to say “No” in a budding rebound relationship. This is what really made the story for me – Dylan’s strength and insight.
My one tiny grumble with the plot would be the parallel situations between Dylan and Joe. I’m trying hard not to give spoilers here, but the astute reader will see from a mile a way what Harry is going to do. I would have liked a bit more originality, something that said no situation is like another.
For those of you reading the series, our supporting cast is back – Alex and Cam from book two, and of course Seb and the Rainbow Place café.
Ultimately, a well written third book that explores mental and physical abuse in a relationship and the positivity of strong friendships.