Title ~ Nothing Special
Author ~ Jay Northcote
Publisher – Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
Release date – 13th August 2014
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 sees on his commute home most days. But when Noah’s friend, Dom, persuades Noah to take a huge risk in a bid to get Sol’s attention, things turn out better than Noah dared to hope. Noah and Sol start dating, and much to Noah’s surprise, his feelings seem to be reciprocated.
But Noah’s insecurities make him doubt Sol. He doesn’t believe he’s interesting enough or sexy enough to hold Sol’s attention, and as Sol tries to get closer, Noah’s instinct is to pull away to protect himself. If their relationship is going to survive, Sol needs to convince Noah that he sees Noah very differently to how Noah sees himself. Because to Sol, Noah is something very special indeed.
Hot and sweet...warm and fuzzies...cute and sexy...go to comfort read...low level angst...each of these statements sums up this story perfectly. So if you're in the mood for any of the above then this appealing little nugget of a novella will definitely fit the bill.
In retrospect this is really one of those story's that just rolls along nicely with not an awful lot happening except for the growth and slight blip in a relationship between two very likeable, no make that loveable,characters, but I think that's where the charm of the book lies.
Noah and Sol are both extremely endearing and I can't see anyone not engaging with them. Noah is the bloke in glasses who doesn't think of himself as anything out of the ordinary, hence the title 'Nothing Special', pleasant enough looking but not stand out, he's tallish, pale skinned, slim built, not a gym bunny or fashion plate...just your run of the mill, everyday average fella who works in a well known book store in town and travels there every day on the train like most of his fellow passengers. He's single, lives at home, has had a past relationship that didn't last and just gets on with his daily routine. There's one bright spark in his day though and that's the hunk of gorgeousness who travels home with him on the underground most days. The dark haired, dark eyed, hot bodied beauty in the London Zoo uniform who makes his mouth water and who he thinks he would never have a chance in hell with, looking as he does...of course that's what he thinks because of his own perceptions of himself, but then haven't most people felt that about themselves, unless they're drop dead gorgeous model types. Anyway, he talks about him with his work mate and best friend Dom, who comes up with a solution that horrifies Noah at first. He dares him to place an ad in the Metro, a free newspaper that he sees the hottie reading everyday, in a section called 'Rush hour crush' suggesting he asks the mystery man out on a date using that! Noah's first reaction is "No way!" but Dom types up a version for him regardless, which he grudgingly agrees to think about over the weekend, never for one minute imagining he'll ever pluck up courage to do it, but on the Friday he sees his hearts desire reading the paper and notices he is actually reading the 'Rush hour crush' section and then...be still Noah's beating heart!!! ...his brown eyed cutie actually speaks to him! He's too flustered to make the conversation last but it pushes him to take that risk he's been dithering over since his conversation with Dom, so he picks up his phone and types the words that will change his life forever:
'Do it. Place the ad for me.'
And he presses the button......
'To the gorgeous dark-haired guy who works at London zoo. I see you on our journey home most days, and I'd like to get to know you. If you're gay and interested, will you go on a date with me?
From the ordinary guy in the WHSmith uniform.'
It's no spoiler to tell you guys that Sol reads the ad and happily takes Noah up on his offer, surprising the shit out of him by admitting that he's noticed Noah too and he doesn't think he's ordinary at all. So they go out on a date, which turns out to be very successful, and from then on begin to see each other on a fairly regular basis... Noah spending more and more time at Sols place, getting to know his friends and flat mates, meeting each other's families, and having lots of steamy (verrrry nice!!!) sex which gets hotter and more intimate each time they hit the sheets. Noah just can't believe that this knockout, good looking, sweet, sexy guy could find someone as ordinary as him attractive but he's happy to take what he can for as long as it lasts. The trouble is he finds himself falling fast because Sol isn't just a pretty face he's a really nice guy. Thoughtful, attentive, considerate, understanding and so warm and tender with Noah. *sigh* His inadequacies about himself start to gnaw at him. Does Sol feel the same way? It's all going too well isn't it? Surely something's got to give? He's going to realise that Noah isn't really good enough or his type—isn't he?
We can see how Sol feels, it's just a matter of convincing Noah!!
You can probably see where it's going and I'm sure you'll have a good idea how it ends but I found getting there a real pleasurable reading experience. The requisite 'misunderstanding' moment comes fairly late on in the story so that's why for me this is definitely a low angst read but when it does arrive it provides a nice little emotional kick to that part of their romance that lifts it from the easy level they've fallen into, in their relationship up to that point of the story. There's no particular high conflict or kitchen sink drama in this at all but when they did hit their 'emotional crossroads' moment, I had a couple of instances where I actually felt myself burning a bit behind the old eyeballs, and there might not have been actual flowing tears but there was definitely dampness around the lashes! Showing me that I was more than a little immersed in their budding romance.
Honestly, there's no surprises in this story at all, it's a trope we've read before and one that will be used again but it's like I always say, it's all about how the author draws you into their version of that storyline, how they make you engage with their characters, how they mould them into people you want to read about, how they forge the chemistry between their MC's that in turn generates the connection for you as a reader and how they take it up to that level of enjoyment that stops you thinking "Hmm...been there, done this before." Jay Northcote did that for me with 'Nothing Special.'
It might not have been the most exciting book I've ever read but it gave me an opportunity to sit back and enjoy something that's, quite simply, sweet and sexy, and let's be honest, sometimes that's just the type of fix you need. I got my connection, I loved Noah and Sol, I felt the draw straight away and I thoroughly enjoyed time spent with them. I came away smiling, satisfied and contented. The epilogue was lovely and as stated at the start of the review, gave me a nice case of the warm and fuzzies, so overall, I'm a happy, sated reader.
Nothing Special is available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press and will be released on 13th August 2014.
As they rounded the corner into Sol’s street, Sol backed up against someone’s garden wall in the shadow of a tree and pulled Noah with him, drawing him into a kiss.
“That’s better.” He kissed him again, harder this time, until Noah parted his lips for him. Sol’s mouth was warm, velvety-smooth, and he tasted of rain with a hint of chocolate from before. Noah drew back to rest his forehead against Sol’s, clasping the back of Sol’s neck.
Sol’s palms were warm on the small of Noah’s back under his shirt as he whispered, “I’ve been wanting to do that all evening.”
He slid his arms higher and pulled Noah closer, burying his face in Noah’s neck and holding him tight. Noah hugged him back, breathing in the scent of Sol’s wet hair and listening to the sound of the rain. The background noise of the city was almost masked by the sound of the rain falling, and for a few minutes, Noah could almost imagine they were the only two people in the world and his chest swelled, too full of emotions that he couldn’t express. Water dripped off his hair and ran down his neck making him shiver.
About the author
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.
Jay is giving away a copy of one of her backlist books to the winner. The winner can choose from Nothing Serious, The Little Things or Not Just Friends.