Title: Helping Hand
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press (self published)
Length: 33,000 words
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
Release Date: Friday June 26th
Wanking with a mate isn’t gay—as long as you keep your hands to yourself.
Jez Fielding and James MacKenzie—Big Mac to his mates—are in their second year at uni. After partying too hard last year, they make a pact to rein themselves in. While their housemates are out drinking every weekend, Jez and Mac stay in to save cash and focus on their studies.
When Jez suggests watching some porn together, he isn’t expecting Mac to agree to it. One thing leads to another, and soon their arrangement becomes hands-on rather than hands-off. But falling for your straight friend can only end badly, unless there’s a chance he might feel the same.
Afterwards, Jez blamed the alcohol for loosening his tongue, because he didn’t think about it before he spoke. The words tumbled out before he could stop them.
“Man, I’m seriously horny now. Have you got any decent porn on that laptop?”
“Huh?” Mac snapped his head around to meet Jez’s gaze. Jez’s heart pounded erratically, but his dick was still standing to attention. “What… you mean, you want to wank in here? Now? Wouldn’t that be weird?” Mac sounded seriously freaked out.
Jez backtracked quickly, cheeks hot. “It doesn’t have to be weird. I’ve done it before with guys at school, and it’s never been a big deal. But don’t worry about it. I’ll go and watch my own stash instead. But I need something soon, ’cause I’m gonna explode after watching that sex scene.”
Jez was expecting an instant no from Mac. He wouldn’t have blamed him. A lot of guys wouldn’t be into what Jez was suggesting. Jez’s heart still thumped hard, but his arousal didn’t abate despite his anxiety. He was shocked by how much he wanted this.
Mac bit his lip and frowned. “Seriously. You’ve done that?”
Jez shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. “Yeah. Like I said, it was no big deal. Just guys messing around.”
Mac stared a moment longer, then he stood, and Jez’s heart sank as he walked away. But Mac only went to fetch his laptop from the dining table. He sat back down and then opened it and tapped in his password.
“What sort of stuff do you wanna watch?” Mac’s voice was gruff and he focused on the screen rather than Jez.
Fuck. They were really going to do this, then.
What can I say? It is getting very hard to write about Jay Northcote’s books without repeating myself because she consistently gets it spot on. Helping Hand, like every previous book by her I’ve read, drew me in from the opening paragraph and kept me hooked until the very last sentence.
This is a sweet, somewhat angsty and very hot story. Mac and Jez's journey from friends via friends with benefits to more than friends was compelling and the characters themselves were vivid, realistic and relatable.
While this is a light and mostly fun read, it did provide me with food for thought. It must be very confusing when you suddenly find yourself attracted to somebody of the same gender when you’ve always considered yourself straight. I was mesmerized with Mac’s journey from denial, to enjoyment to the realisation that no matter how much he might want to blame it all on lust there was more happening between him and Jez. And I loved how Jay Northcote dealt with Jez and Mac’s confusion as to how to label themselves in the future.
“Labels can be restrictive. Sometimes you need to stop thinking about gender and sexuality and focus on the person. If you care about them, if you feel good when you’re with them, if you’re hot for them...then what does any of the rest matter?”
What does the rest matter indeed. As a fervent hater of labels in general, this quote spoke to my heart and my believes.
Once again, I highly recommend a book by Jay Northcote. Written so fluidly the book almost reads itself, Helping Hand will entertain and excite you in equal measure.
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.