Title: Like a Lover (Housemates #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Jay Northcote (Jaybird Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 4, 2015 – 48, 450 Words
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.
Jay Northcote is fast becoming one of my favourite m/m authors and an automatic pre-order. This story follows on from Jez and Mac’s story in Helping Hand. Their housemate Josh is secretly paying his way through university as a rent boy. So far, so sordid. Josh needs the money and older men are willing to pay for the attentions of a beautiful young emo-twink. He plays safe and only takes calculated risks.
Rupert isn’t his usual client. Young, wealthy and gorgeous, he is a little taken aback when the guy he tries to pick up at the bar asks for money.
I completely fell for both of these men. The streetwise student isn’t as cold or as hard as he wants to be. The affluent professor isn’t as detached or as sophisticated as he’d like to be. With both men desperate for someone to love, their financial arrangement soon becomes much more emotional than either man expects.
This feels a little more grown up than most of Jay Northcote’s new adult short stories. Rupert (there’s just something so hot about that name!) is very much an adult and even though Josh is a student, he is a mature student with a pretty complex history. He may live with Jez and Mac but he feels years older than his porn-fiend housemates.
This is the first longer length novella I’ve read by the author and it works beautifully. I enjoyed getting to really know both Rupert and Josh, and I really enjoyed Rupert’s mum’s wedding and the interplay between Josh’s housemates.
While Rupert and Josh are more layered and more nuanced than Northcote’s usual new adult characters, the author hasn’t lost her sense of humour or her ability to exploit the bizarre and the awkward for comic effect. She never allows the story to get too dark or too heavy.
I loved this and I’m already looking forward to Jay Northcote’s next book.
It was easy to get into the story. Both Josh and Rupert are likable, and there are plenty of hot moments. Their emotional intimacy unfolds slowly through their physical interactions, and it’s a nice slow build. I particularly liked the sex in this book–it was descriptive without being over-the-top graphic, which is something I’ve come to really appreciate about Jay Northcote’s particular style of erotic writing.
I liked that these were guys dealing with life issues. Josh’s financial worries and Rupert’s woes over his mother’s impending wedding made a nice backdrop for getting these two together. The pace was good, and I didn’t feel like there was a lot of time wasted on unimportant details.
That said, I simply didn’t love it as much as the first part of the series. It didn’t have the same sense of playfulness and fun. I had to chuckle at Josh’s declaration to Rupert that “this isn’t Pretty Woman,” when what followed was basically exactly that (only with more kissing and a very slightly different ending). I kind of hoped we’d see Rupert end up being more open-minded rather than acting quite so possessive with Josh, and I also hoped we’d see Josh assert himself and his line of work as well. Instead, the resolution felt a bit too tidy for the rest of the story.
Other than that, this was a well-written and enjoyable book. It’s definitely one for curling up and being swept away in the characters and situations.
“I like your lip ring,” Rupert said. His gaze dropped lower to Josh’s collarbones. “What are your tattoos of?”
“Swallows.” Rupert would just be able to see the wing tips that showed in this low-necked T- shirt. “Two of them.”
“Have you got any other tattoos?”
Josh gave a slow, teasing smile. “Maybe. Do you want me to show you?”
Rupert met his eyes again. There was a flicker of uncertainty before he answered. “Yes. I’d like that.”
Josh turned over the possibilities in his mind. It had been a long time since he’d had sex for anything other than for money. He usually saw clients at least three nights a week. They scratched the itch for him, and he didn’t have the time or inclination to hook up with other guys. He hadn’t dated since he’d started working as an escort. Josh didn’t like lying about his job, but most guys didn’t want to date escorts.
It would be easy to pick Rupert up tonight, though, and have no-strings sex with him for fun rather than cash. But Josh’s rent was due.
“Me too. But it’ll cost you,” he finally said.
Rupert frowned, obvious confusion crossing his features as he tried to make sense of Josh’s words. “What? I don’t—”
“You’re hot, and I wish I could do this without asking you for money. But a client let me down this evening. I have a hotel room booked and paid for next door, and I need someone to cover the cost for me.” The lie came smoothly. “I can’t afford to have sex for free tonight.”
Rupert’s mouth dropped open. Shock was evident on his face, but there was something else that was harder to read. His cheeks flooded pink again and his eyes went dark. “You’re….” His voice came out husky, and he cleared his throat. “You’re a….”
“A sex worker. An escort, to be precise. Hooker, rent boy, you get the gist. I’m an expensive one too. But my clients think I’m worth the money.” Josh waited, tension making a muscle tick in his jaw as he forced himself to stay still and hold Rupert’s gaze. On the occasions he’d tried picking up clients face-to-face, their reactions had varied. Interest, anger, excitement, disgust… he’d seen them all. He steeled himself, ready for rejection.
Rupert licked his lips. “How much?” he finally asked.
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.