Nothing Special (ParisDude’s Review)

Title: Nothing Special
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 158
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5


When Noah’s insecurity threatens their fledgling relationship, can Sol convince Noah that he’s enough?

Noah thinks he’s nothing special. Average height, a bit on the skinny side, and cute but rather geeky, he’s relentlessly ordinary. He certainly doesn’t expect to be noticed by Sol, the gorgeous dark-haired stranger Noah usually sees on his commute home.

When a friend persuades Noah to take a big risk in a bid to get Sol’s attention, things turn out better than Noah dared to hope. But Noah doesn’t believe he’s interesting or sexy enough to hold Sol’s attention.

As Sol tries to get closer, Noah tries to protect his heart by pulling away. If their relationship is going to survive, Noah needs to accept that Sol sees him very differently to how Noah sees himself. Because to Sol, Noah is something very special indeed.

This is a standalone story with a satisfying happy ending.

Some would say there’s not much of a plot in this book. No angst, no high drama, no suspense, nobody’s chased, kidnapped, or killed, nobody transforms into an odd being out of a legend, nobody’s heart is broken, nobody has ghosts from the past haunting them… And yet. This was one of the most fulfilling reads I’ve enjoyed these last few months. And I’ll tell you why.

First, however, let’s have a look at the story-line. Noah, aged twenty-five, lives in London and is working in a bookstore. He has that geeky look-thing going, which makes him think he’s average to the point of being insipid—a lad nobody would give a second glance. His best friend Dom has coined the phrase “adorkable” to describe him. Now, each evening on the tube, Noah sees an offhandedly, almost obliviously handsome dude from the London Zoo, who’s his personal fancies come true. But of course, Noah doesn’t have the guts to talk to him. He’s nothing special, the dude’s a hunk. That’s when Dom persuades him to put an ad in the classifieds section of a free daily, in which he asks the dashing stranger if he’d care to have a drink with him. To his utter surprise, not only does the stranger called Sol react by talking to him, but he also accepts and seems openly interested in Noah. They date, they shag, they fall in love. Add a short intermezzo where Noah’s insecurities come back with a vengeance, an open-hearted talk to clear any misunderstandings. HEA, curtain, last full stop, close book.

So, yeah, I guess you’d be disappointed if you were looking for some angst, some Boom, some Bang, some Boink. But let me tell you that I really loved this little gem of a book. Why? Well, first of all, when a well-told, well-paced story feels so genuine and real, when it’s cute and heart-warming, I don’t need any supplementary Boom, Bang, or Boink. Not at all. Secondly, the setting. Don’t take me wrong, I don’t dislike stories set in the US. But it’s simply very nice to read a story taking place in my good, ole, familiar Europe for a change. Moreover, London as the background for a book—yep, please, any day! Third point: the topic of uncomplicated young love. Sure, both guys have had bad experiences with their exes. Sure, they both have minor issues and insecurities, they both are reluctant to disclose too soon how they feel about each other for fear of beiing rejected. You see, these are problems we all might have or might have had, no more, no less. No major Big Issues, but average-person problems the average-person reader can easily relate to.

What I enjoyed above all in this book is how accurately Jay describes the dynamics of two lads in their twenties who meet, date, then fall in love. You know, some writers dish out prolonged courting rituals where the main motto seems to be, “Never shag on first dates.” That almost always makes me cringe. I guess it’s because most of the time, we real-life gay guys simply don’t act or react like that, especially not in our young and formative years. I for sure didn’t. I liked someone? Well, I’d talk him up, we’d kiss, we’d shag, and not even necessarily in that order. With not regrets, no I-feel-like-such-a-slut-thoughts afterwards. I was longing to fall in love, each and every time, knowing fully well that I’d get there after talking/kissing/shagging if I was lucky. So, this book and its two unashamed, unabashed main characters with their normal reactions was a welcome change after all those other MCs in other books who, when dating, seem to invent complications almost as if they wanted to make their own lives more difficult. Is my point of view a European thing? Do you guys in the US do things diferently in the dating-department? I wouldn’t know…

Alright, some of you like their stories with more spice, more complications, more “oomph”, as you would say. Such stories can appeal to me, too, don’t get me wrong. But this one felt so astoundingly familiar, as if all the things going on in it could have happened to me (a long, long, looooong time ago, granted). I was blushing with Noah, I was getting hot, and cold, and lovey-lovey all over my body with Noah, I fell in love with Sol at the same time and in the same manner Noah did, with ants and butterflies in my belly. My overall impression: a very sweet, straightforward, honest, and gratifying book indeed.

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Galley copy of Nothing Special provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review.


Dieter, born and raised in Austria, studied Political Sciences in Vienna in the early 90s. He's living in Paris, France, with his boyfriend and working as a graphic designer. In his spare time, he loves to write, read, cook, take photos, and travel as often as possible. He’s already published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. His first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on Jan. 6, 2019, and is available in English, French, and German. By the way, the French version "Le cercueil farci" has won the prestigious Prix du roman gay 2019 in the category murder mystery. Dieter runs a gay book reviews site in French and is also writing reviews for Gay Book Reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude.