Title: Mud & Lace (Rainbow Place #4)
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press
Release Date: April 25th 2019
Page Count: 226
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When Wicksy falls for drag queen Charlie, they discover that both sexuality and gender can be fluid.
Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his rugby teammates—has only ever been interested in women. But when he sets eyes on Lady Gogo, a drag queen who performs at Rainbow Place, he can’t stop thinking about her. He knows there’s a guy behind the fishnets and make-up, but he’s ready to explore his fantasies, and Lady Gogo is game for making them come true.
Charlie adores performing in drag. It allows him to indulge in his love of cross-dressing while earning some extra cash. Fooling around with a mostly straight guy in secret seems like a fun diversion, and gives him the chance to explore his feminine side. He feels safe wearing the mask of his confident alter ego, because the real Charlie is hidden from view.
When Wicksy sees more of the guy behind the make-up and glitter, his attraction to Charlie persists, and he realises he’s bisexual. In turn, Charlie begins to understand and accept his gender fluidity. As their mutual journey of self-discovery brings them closer, the secrecy becomes increasingly hard to deal with. If they’re going to have a future together, they both need to find the courage to show people who they really are.
Bless our English language. It permits choosing one definition, of many, most apt to a specific situation. So, I’ve selected metamorphosis as a spot-on description of Mud & Lace. It can mean “a marked or complete change of character, appearance, condition, etc.” It particularly suits the emotional, and even physical, changes that gradually occur to the novel’s feature characters, constituting the story’s heart, and making it successfully interesting to and emotionally fulfilling for the optimistic reader of gay romance.
We are all familiar with the “gay for you” genre – a supposedly straight gentleman, A, falls irresistibly in love/lust with mister B. That can really appeal to the hyper-romantics among us, rooting for a love and sexual passion that supercedes societal gender roles. Mud & Lace nicely celebrates that belief with intense charm and lots of super sex.
Wicksy, a successfully active heterosexual, finds himself becoming obsessed with the drag personna of Charlie. Wicksy knows Charlie’s actual gender, but can’t quite figure out whether he is aroused despite that or because of it. Wicksy’s acts of self-pleasure don’t generate any clarification for him. And Internet “research,” if anything, only sensualizes Wicksy with the physical possibilities of gay sex. Self-deluding, he is first convinced that Charlie’s excessive femininity in drag is really further assurance to Wicksy that he is really straight. Curiosity still overwhelms him.
Charlie finds great satisfaction in drag and performing for the public. A generally quiet and ordinary person, drag is truly liberating for him. Deep down, Charlie questions the the source of the “uncertainty” he feels about his gender, but he still responds to Wicksy’s approach.
These are sexually and emotionally evolving people. The sex starts out as mostly one-sided, but the underlying emotional attachment inevitably draws our heroes towards great sexual reciprocity. Ultimately, they yearn, beyond sex, for the simple pleasures, such as cuddling with a partner. And Wicksy, almost unknowingly, starts to think he may be bi-sexual, with a bent for men who evince a femme nature, leading Wicksy, subconsciously, to begin thinking of Charlie as “Her.”
The novel is fun, sexy and an easy read. While Mud & Lace is a stand alone, as this reviewer, you may be tempted to get into the other books in the Rainbow place series.